Video Game Terminology
Glossary of video game terms, acronyms and definitions for the gamer.
This page will be updated regularly as technology evolves.
||A console manufactured and distributed by a company
other than the original developer which is at its core a technical replicate of the original model.
||An interactive computer with the primary function
of being a gaming device, typically dependent upon an external display device and utilizes an interchangeable media format for
game programming/delivery through the system.
||Acronym for Complete In Box. Used
to define the completeness of a system/game and to indicate that all manuals, inserts, cord wrappings, etc. are included with
the respective item.
||Hidden features of a game or system that are not
readily visible to the user. Programmer's delight in adding these.
||There are two common uses for this term, each completely
separate in nature. When used to describe a game, this indicates that most of the game code has been copied and reused in
a new game release. The 'hacked' game release is often very similar to the original game, but with some slight differences
in terms of graphics and game setting (story). When applied to a console, this term refers to upgrading the hardware outside
the manufacturers original specifications and/or releasing certain capabilities of the system that are not part of the general
out of the box user experience.
||Portable, lightweight gaming system that has all
controls and screen display compiled into one unit.
||Acronym for New In Box. Used to indicate
that a system/game is brand new and has never been opened.
||Typically used to define certain home personal
computers which primary function is to serve as a computer, but does have certain characteristics of being a console (i.e. has
a cartridge slot, controller ports, etc.).
||General term to define early systems that were
based on the General Instruments AY-3-8500 chip. Games are all built directly into the
system and are generally variations of the original Pong tennis game.
||Acronym for Shipping and Handling (mainly
used in this site to estimate the cost of this service for items)
Interfaces \ Connections
||Acronym for Apple Desktop Bus, which is
a type of port used on Apple products for peripheral device connection
||Standard communication protocol designed for wireless
devices and PANs (personal area network)
||The current standard for A/V delivery that utilizes
cables. Video is delivered through three separate channels (green, blue and red) that correspond to the respective color
signals with standard red/white cabled used to transmit audio.
||Followed the RF Connection method by using
three cables - Yellow for video, Red for the right audio channel and White for the left audio channel.
||Port on Macintosh computers which was primarily
used for modem communication. Abandoned in the late 1990's
||Primarily used to state that game controllers for
a system are permanently wired to the system and not removable
||Acronym for High definition Multimedia Interface
and is a single cable with a USB type port that transmits uncompressed digital A/V data. Definitely the way to go if your
television supports this.
||Any port whose purpose is to receive audio, video
or other data from an external source
||Acronym for National Television System Committee,
which is used to define the analog standards for the display, color, refresh rate and other technical items for televisions to
deliver programming\A\V content to the end user. Utilized in North America, Japan and a few other countries worldwide. Basically,
it displays video using 525 lines of information and up to 16 million colors.
||Any port whose purpose is to transmit audio, video
or other data to an external source
||Acronym for Phase Alternating Line, which
is used to define the analog standards for the display, color, refresh rate and other technical items for televisions to deliver
programming content to the end user. Utilized in most of Europe, Australia, China, parts of South America, and a few other countries
worldwide. Basically, it displays video using a maximum of 625 lines of information and up to 16 million colors. There
are many sub groups using this standard.
||Acronym for Peripheral Component Interconnect,
a type of computer bus used to connect peripheral devices to a computer or system.
||General term used to describe an interface on a
system for use in connecting devices
||Obvious - some have the power supply built into
the system, others utilize an external source contained in the actual cord
||Current universal connection method used for basically
all standard definition A/V cables
||Connection through the coaxial cable of televisions.
Many older systems use this. Audio and Video are delivered through the same cable with overall low quality compared to today's
||Better than Composite in delivering video quality
- audio connection is the same. The port structure is also different than the other cables in that it uses a computer PS-2
like port and not the standard RCA
||Acronym for Small Computer System Interface, yet another type device connection method
||Older style port used for connecting a mouse, modem
and other devices
||Acronym for Universal Serial Bus, the current standard for connecting peripheral devices
||Acronym for Video Graphics Array, which
is the standard 15-pin computer monitor port.
||Stands for Wireless Fidelity, a type of wireless networking standard protocol
||General term to describe any network connection
communications are transmitted via radio waves and/or microwaves rather than through a wired connection between sender and receiver.
Controllers \ Peripherals
||These controllers respond to the degree of pressure
exerted on a button, D-pad, etc, rather than the On\Off mechanics of a Digital Controller
||Catch-all term for any interface device to control
||Controllers respond with an On\Off action (shoot,
turn left) and does not take into account the pressure exerted on a button
||Generic term for today's modern controller, which
typically feature a directional controller (D-pad) and action buttons
||Controller featuring a handheld directional stick,
often accompanied by an action button(s)
||Obvious, but early models featured Up\Down\Left\Right
arrows above the WASD keys to control PC game movement and input.
||Action buttons are aligned in a 3 x 3 grid of buttons,
often accompanied by a circular motion button. Games came packed in with overlays to identify the respective action of the
||Usually deigned to resemble its name, this type
of controller emits a beam of light at the game screen to 'shoot' the target. A receiver/transmitter unit records the accuracy
of the 'shot' and reports back the findings to the game console.
||Standard term for the device which allows electronic/digital
communication with an external network source
||General term used to describe game control through use of the movement of the controller of by
technology enabling the capture of body motion or voice recognition
||Obvious - still a favorite for PC gamers
||Connection device to expand the number of controllers
that can plug into a console
||Used with Keypad controllers to identify the action
associated with the respective Keypad button. Also used to describe the plastic film used to cover a television screen to
give color and add graphics to early gaes/consoles that technologically could not (Magnavox Odyssey)
||A circular wheel provides directional control,
while action buttons are used for firing, etc.
||Generic term for any device that requires a connection
to a console or PC
||Wireless keyboard type of device used in a few
early model consoles (Bandai Pippin)
||A large ball that interacts with two or three axis
wheels that are enclosed in the case. Centipede was the big starter of this.
Technical \ Performance
||Other processing units that augment the central CPU, or at times control completely certain
system functions (i.e. audio).
||The number of colors that a system is able to display. This does necessarily mean that the
respective unit is able to display all of these on the screen at one time.
||The unit of which a Processor
belongs. The CPU is plugged into the motherboard and is the most important piece of hardware
||A sound company that pioneered
stereo and surround sound systems
||The frequency at which a system is able to display unique images in sequence. The unit of
measurement is expressed in FPS (frames per second).
|Full Motion Video
||Pre-recorded video that is presented to the gamer, usually used during cut scenes to communicate
the story line. Games that allow interactivity (via an additional overlay) are known as interactive movies. More
commonly known as FMV.
||Sound that comes through a
single channel speaker system
||A group of computers connected
wirelessly or through a system of Ethernet cables
||Single unit is able le to display a color. The result when combined is a cohesive image.
||Display of an image/video at a greater resolution that what was intended. The result is
that the user is able to discern the individual pixels that comprise the original content (which is not optimal nor was
intended by the creator).
||A flat, enclosed shape that is defined by three or more lines. Coloring individual
polygons can provide a variety of effects, primarily depth.
||A computer chip that "thinks"
for the computer. Controls and regulates all memory and data as well as system processes not handled by the video and sound cards
||The amount of pixels that are displayed on a display unit.
||Method for displaying an image, or animation, over a background that does not modify that
||Sound that comes through evenly
on a two-channel speaker system
||A multi-channel speaker system
that creates the illusion of sound immersion
||Method for adding detail, surface texture (a bitmap or raster image), or color to a
computer-generated graphic or 3D model.
Storage \ Media
||Units of memory. Plural - Bytes.
The term was often applied to describe the CPU power of a console (8-Bit, 16-Bit, etc.).
||Optical disc storage medium offering up to 128 GB of data (BDXL).
||A plastic encased unit for
storing and then using data to play games. Originally had no memory storage and had a password database, but the addition of a
special battery allowed for storage of memory
||Magnetic tape storage for analog storage of data
||Compact Disc. Optical disc to store digital data. Available in a variety of formats
(i.e. CD-R, CD-RW, etc.). Storage capacity is approximately 703 MB.
||Compact Disc + Graphics. Optical format for combing low level graphics alongside audio.
Often used for karaoke programs.
||Content that is delivered and/or stored on the console
||Digital Video Disc\Writable\Rewritable
- Most games and movies are released in DVD format. R and RW are used for burning discs on your computer for personal or commercial
||Portable and Enclosed HDDs
as well as flash drives, jump drives, and microdrives. Memory storage, ranging from 56KB to over 1TB
||Memory storage for cameras,
camcorders, and PSP systems. It uses a small card inserted in a slot on the electronic device or PC for data storage and transfer
||Flash memory is an electronic (i.e. no moving parts) non-volatile computer storage device that
can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.
||Removable media type that is used to store data
||Gigabyte; One Billion Bytes
||Officially called a "Hard Disk
Drive", a solid memory system for storage of massive amounts of data over a period of time
||High-Definition Digital Video
Disc, a DVD that plays in High Definition formats
||A game, usually a cartridge
game, that is made by indie or garage developers and designers, usually based off of NES or SNES cartridges
||Proprietary memory card used to store game code. Used in the PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16 and
SuperGrafx consoles. Also known as the TuirboChip.
||Dedicated area on either a Hard Disc or memory that is allocated for game saves and user
||Large discs that were meant
to be the wave of the future. Large, expensive, and the release of the DVD killed Laserdisc
||Megabyte; One Million Bytes
||MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III encoding format for digital audio
||Generic term for the encoding of audio and video digital data
||Random Access Memory. What
is used for temporary storage on computer systems
||Read Only Memory
||Generic term used to describe content delivery. Computing power is performed at a
dedicated server, with the result sent to the device for user interation.
||Terabyte; One Trillion Bytes.
Currently the highest available commercial size for data storage
||Acronym for Video Home System and the analog magnetic tapes used for data storage
Gaming \ Software
||Typically played from a third person
point of view, these games focus on investigation of one's surroundings and retrieval of item(s) compiled with combat versus various
||Uncommon for games released in the
USA and more widely available in Japan and certain European markets; game content is obvious
||Games based on the Japanese style of
||Used to describe a single software
release containing more than one game.
||Game demonstration software that has
either a time/level limit or other features disabled to encourage purchase of the full software.
||Games focused on learning activities
for both children and adults. Most are the Point & Click affairs.
||"Beat'em Ups" - usually one-on-one
combat between two characters.
||Acronym for First Person Shooter.
The point of view is always from the perspective of the character the player is controlling (like looking through the character's
||Any game th
||Acronym for Massively Multiplayer
Online. A network required environment where interactions with other 'real' characters is the key. Most games
in this genre are RPG based, but there are a growing number of RTS games that are springing up in this category.
||Probably the newest genre, games are
all about music and audience participation. Growth in this area has been exploding as of late.
||Mostly presented in 2D, games in this
genre require the character to start from point A and get to point B by jumping and traversing various obstacles (bad guys as
well) to reach the next level. A Boss battle typically is the culmination of one's efforts.
||Mind over matter - complete objectives
using your brain to navigate through problems and/or puzzles.
||Hop in your vehicle and get to the
finish line. This genre is all about vehicles and games are presented from all points of perspective (2D, 3D, Third person)
||Acronym for Role Playing Game.
This genre focuses on a central protagonist that is controlled by the player and involves them adventuring through a world(s)
to achieve various objectives for the story to continue. Item collection and stat\level building is also a mainstay of this
||Usually 2D scrolling affairs, the action
is simple - keep mashing the fire button and kill all the bad guys.
||Games attempt to simulate real life
situations, actions and/or events.
||The genre with the most titles ever
||Overall game play is usually slower
than most and requires extreme thinking and planning to achieve objectives. Usually defined as RTS (real Time Strategy)
and TBS (Turn Based Strategy)