Basic Video Game Terminology: What You Need to Know

Are there times when you don’t understand what someone is saying to you when they talk about video games? Have you ever wanted to better understand the words gamers commonly use? Well, here’s your chance to do just that.

Sit back and relax, and prepare to learn as you join me in going through some of the most common words in video gaming.

Models: Models are the physical shapes of everything you see. The character you play, the buildings you see, and the cars and animals you see are all models. Models can be very complex and highly detailed, but don’t usually contain color. Simply put, models are the physical things in the game. Once a model is complete, textures are added to it so that it has color. Textures are flat and are designed to give color to everything you see, including skin, walls, and various objects.

HUD: HUD stands for Heads Up Display. Anything you can see while playing a game that shows the status of the game is considered a HUD. For example, in FPS games, the HUD can show information like your current health, what gun you are using, or how much ammunition you have. Because HUD’s are created from scratch for each game, every HUD is unique.

: Gameplay is a general term that refers to anything you do in a game. Gameplay features can include shooting, jumping, buying and selling in-game items, and interacting with NPC (Non-Player Controlled) characters. A game with a high number of available gameplay features gives every gamer a unique experience. This is good because it means the game is more interactive and fun to play.

Game Environment
: A game environment is everything your character interacts with. Anywhere you can walk, drive, or fly through is the game environment. For example, many games’ settings are on a planet, but only the places you can navigate in and actually see can be considered the environment. The largest game environments today exist in RPG’s (see below) and Action-Adventure games, and cover as much area as a real life comparison of 20 square miles.

FPS (First Person Shooter)
: First Person Shooters are an extremely common and popular genre of videogames. In this genre, you see through the eyes of your character, and always use guns. In some FPS games, your character never has any dialect. This is done so that any reaction your character may have is imagined by you. This tactic is most often used to immerse the player further into the story. The vast majority of these games take place in the future and the past, most notably World War I and World War II. The games of this genre that take place in modern times are typically based on fictional wars, but include real weaponry. Games of this genre are typically fast-paced (events in the storyline happen quickly), and have good graphics. Examples of FPS games are Halo and Call of Duty.

First Person Shooter

RPG (Role-Playing Game)
: In Role-Playing Games, you control one or more characters, and every attribute about them. This means that while you play the game, your character(s) may get stronger, faster, gain intelligence, or improve in a number of other skills. Most RPG’s are based in fantasy worlds, often times not ever connected with Earth. This genre specializes in creating very large and interactive environments for the player to explore, and to utilize a very wide range of items and weapons. Games of this genre typically take a long time to complete, have good replay value (you can play the game more than once), and have good strong story lines.   Examples of RPGs are Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts.

Simulation Game
: In simulation games, you simulate an activity based on the real world. This may include flying, sports games, life games (like The Sims), and war simulators. These games range from bad to great graphics, but almost always allow you to have great control of what happens in the game. For example, in sports games, you control the player(s) of your sport, and decide the outcome of every game. In games like Sim City, you control large populations of people. You have the power to build roads, schools, police stations, water and power grids, and zoning for various buildings. Positives of this genre are that there are many gameplay features, good replay value (able to play the game more than once), and create a realistic model of the world we live in.

The Sims

Action-Adventure Game
: Action-Adventure games are games that involve combat and exploration. This usually equates into violence, but games range anywhere from no blood to very bloody. Most current-day games in this genre have RPG characteristics as well; this is because most Action-Adventure games allow you to modify your character, and increase your character’s abilities as the game progresses. It’s sometimes hard to differentiate between RPG’s and Action-Adventure games, but Action-Adventure games usually have less depth in character modification. Games in this genre usually have a lot of action, good combat systems (easy to play), and good graphics.  Examples of Action-Adventure games are Tomb Raider and Resident Evil.

Puzzle Game
: In puzzle games, you solve a series challenges, ranging in difficulty. Games in this genre tend to be more difficult. Most puzzle games are similar to an Action-Adventure game, but can also employ a barrage of mini games to challenge you. Positives of this genre are that games require quite a bit of thought, and are simple to navigate and play due to simple controls.  Example of Puzzle Games are Grim Fandango and Tetris.

Sandbox Game
: In Sandbox games, the player is free to go wherever they like within the game environment. These games are also referred to as “free roam” games. The character that you play can navigate around the environment, explore, and complete goals and missions at their own pace. This differs from a linear game, in which you are required to take specific paths everywhere you go. Like all games, though, Sandbox games still have a limited amount of area you can travel. Boundaries are usually set by physical obstacles, like mountains or water. Notable games of this genre include the Grand Theft Auto series and the Smugglers Run series.

Smugglers Run

Honorable Mentions(Somewhat Obvious but Important to Understand):

Developer: Company or companies that create the game from scratch. The developer controls everything that goes into the game, ranging from game controls to the game’s story.

Company or companies that take a completed game and sell it to the public. To do this, the publisher puts the game onto the storage format of the target console(s).Current consoles use versions of DVD. The publisher markets and distributes the game on the disks in different regions. The regions usually correspond to geographic continents; North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, etc.

I hope this list is a helpful resource to you. If you feel this list is useful, think about bookmarking this so that anytime a gamer speaks about a video game, you have a quick and handy reference.

This is the first of a series of articles I plan on writing on gaming vocabulary. If you were already familiar with these words, stay tuned for more advanced terminology. Also, feel free to join in the comments if you feel I have forgotten any very basic termninology that would be helpful to add here.

SEE ALSO: 10 Horror Games You Absolutely Need To Play

Matt Wood