• Rob George

Week 6 Research: Who They Are: Language

Updated: Dec 3, 2020


To learn what language and terms are used in the U.S. retro gaming culture and the contemporary gaming culture. I want to have a clear understanding of how they communicate with each other through the terms that are involved in conversation and in games. Understanding this may help with not only preserving the nostalgia of retro gaming but connect the younger generations to the retro gaming community.

Note: This is a wordy post and will be updated as research continues


Player - The person or people playing the game. Varies from Player 1 to Player 4.

Flip / Turn Over - The point in the game where the score would turn back to zero. Turn over was used more frequently.

Board - "Stage" and "Level" are common alternatives. Referring to the visual platform the characters are on. A single screen that would change once it is completed.

Cross Country / Speed Running - Playing without high scores or powerups and trying to complete the level as quick as possible while competing against other players. More often called "speed running" today.

Smart Bomb - Limited item in a game that allowed the player to destroy everything in that moment. Will sometimes appear as different names in other games.

Doubles - When only two players are allowed to play simultaneously on the same game. Would be considered "multiplayer" today.

Split Screen / Kill Screen - In retro terms "Split Screen" is not what you think. When people reached level 256 on Pac-Man, the Pac-Man character would get white hot and mess up half of the screen. The term "Kill Screen" is more commonly used now to define when the code in a classic game malfunctions at a certain point.

1 Up - An extra life that is given to you after reaching a certain score.

Cheat Codes - Button combinations / words and numbers that you could enter to cheat your way through the game.

Game Genie - A company called Galoob made a device that could be inserted into a console with a game that is being played and enter cheat codes for games that did not provide the option of cheat codes. Was mainly used for NES, SNES, Genesis, Gameboy, and Game Gear games.

Cartridge - These were the vessels that carried the games. Before CD game disks, there were these big, colorful plastic containers that held motherboards for different games. These would be inserted into the consoles to play the games and could only hold so much data. Players would also blow into the cartridge if it wasn't working to get rid of dust which was proven to not be a true reason why the cartridge wasn't working. Most of the time the cartridge simple would just need to be reinserted into the console.

Fog - Some early stages of 3D games could not register a large capacity of detail in the games so they would use fog as backgrounds in the distance. Indicating that something is there but it just hasn't been rendered yet. As you move through the fog, the game would render but you would not be able to see where you were or where you're going.

CRT - Cathode-Ray Tube

Bits - A term used to measure the processor quality of the consoles and games; 8-bit, 16-bit, 64-bit, etc. Example: Nintendo 64 got it's name because the console was a 64-bit console.

Continue - A term used in games after you've used up all of your lives. There would be a limited amount of continues that would return you to the spot you died and you can continue playing. Once you've used up all your lives and continues the game is over and you start back at level one. Was used in arcades to get people to spend less time playing and more time spending quarters.

Game Over - Still used today. Pretty self explanatory but this term will always pop up whenever you lose all your lives in a game or when the game has been completed.


Gamer - A person or people who play video games.

Multiplayer - Two or more players playing a game at the same time.

Easter Eggs - pointless features that developers hide in a game that players can unlock.

Glitches - An error with the game's code that causes either minor or large problems during gameplay.

Farming - gathering supplies for your game

AAA - A big game title backed by large companies and marketing budgets.

AFK - away from keyboard

GLHF - good luck have fun

MOB - Monster or Beast: an enemy that must be killed to continue the game.

GTG - Good to Go

DPS - Damage per second

FFA - Free For All

BRB - Be Right Back

PUG - Pick Up Group: Gathering people to make a group on a game.

TLDR- Too Long Didn't Read: usually posted in a forum when someone writes a really long post.

IGM - In Game Name: Your avatar name for your game.

Owned - Lets people know you are getting beat up in a game.

Ghosting - Watching another player's moves to find an advantage.

FTW - For The Win

Rez - When you need to be resurrected.

Sux - Sucks

Flagged - when your character is no longer safe



Retro Gaming

Video Games’ Forgotten Terminology From the Early Days of Gaming

ARQADE Stack Exchange Discussion (What does 8-bit / 16-bit actually refer to?)


Modern Gaming

Popular Gaming Terms Now in the Dictionary

Slang Gamers use

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