Every game genre develops its own language and terminology over time. These words make no sense to anyone outside of fans of that genre; your mom isn’t going to know what turtling is, unless she’s one of those cool moms that plays RTS games. Of all the genres I’ve played before though, MMOs seem to have the most exclusive and complicated words and phrases.
Some people have an ear for foreign languages and can pick them up with relative ease. I had a friend in college who spent a summer in Italy – when he came back, he was speaking Italian to my grandmother, an immigrant from there, better than I had ever been able to despite having taken five years of Italian classes. Not surprisingly, I had absolutely no idea what the hell everyone was telling me to do when I started SWTOR.
After the jump, confusion abounds
At first, I just tried making a list of words I didn’t understand and looking up their meanings when people would say them. By the time I’d figured out what I was being told, though, I was already dead or close to death.
Then I tried yelling to Alex – a veritable MMO dictionary – outside of voice chat. This worked great for me, but kept getting him killed.
Eventually my constant pestering of “what does that mean again?” pushed past Alex’s annoyance level and he made me go with him to the mixed martial arts gym to “make me less stupid”.
“I’m going to try to put this in terms you may understand by using your beloved MMA as a guideline. Let’s start with something simple,” Alex told me, moving to the center of the room.
“What if I spun around in a circle with my fists swinging outwards? Has anyone in the UFC ever done this?” he demonstrated. People stared.
“No. One time a guy tried to just punch his opponent’s fists in an attempt to break his hands. He got knocked out in like two minutes.”
“Well that has nothing to do with the question I asked you, but okay. My point being that if anyone walks in the area of my fists of fury, then they will be hit by them and take damage. In the case of these bad boys, they’d probably be killed instantly,” he said, kissing his fist. “When you do your AoE attack, think of it as though you’re placing me spinning in a circle like thi-”
“Yes yes, point made, no further demonstration necessary.”
“Okay, now let me show you some moves using the dumb pajama hug fighting,” Alex said. Of all the aspects of MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is easily his least favorite. It takes away his favorite part of fighting (hitting things) and focuses entirely on something he doesn’t really care for – a whole lot of physical contact.
We warmed up for a bit then he used a slick transition to get me into the mount position – basically sitting on top of me and pinning me down.
“So from here, you’re completely motionless. You can’t move anywhere, but you can still hit me, right? This could be considered rooting; you’re stuck in place but aren’t completely helpless. And if you bridge using your hi-”
I threw my hips up from underneath him and bucked him off, reversing our positions and leaving me on top.
“Yeah, like that,” he said. “You could say bridging is using your CC breaker to stop the root. It takes a lot of effort and energy to do, so you should use it only when you absolutely need it. Now let me show you something from back mount.”
Over the course of that night, Alex explained all the words that were confusing me by putting them in MMA terms. Afterwards, I had a much better understanding of what I should be saying to effectively communicate to my allies.
Now, I’m actually coordinating the fights in warzones by using all the lingo like a pro. Most of the time, at least… thankfully most of my guildmates have realized that when I scream out “bridge” I mean CC breaker. I wonder if they ever spent a month in Italy too.
Here’s a short glossary of some of the more common and uncommon phrases you might hear if you play an MMO. I hope that you learn them quicker than I did.
Adds – additional enemies. In an operation, bosses will often spawn adds to cause further chaos and difficulty.
Common usage: “Adds are up – kill them fast before they can do a lot of damage.”
AoE – stands for area of effect; a power that does damage in an area rather than one target.
Common usage: “My AoE will hit all three of those droids in the corner of the room.”
Buff/de-buff – an ability that increases an ally’s stats or decreases an enemy’s.
Common usage: “Everybody buff up before this next big fight,” and “Use your de-buff at the start of the fight, it’ll decrease his armor.”
Burst Damage – a high amount of damage over a short period of time.
Common usage: “My class is especially good at burst damage, but it lacks AoE and has no healing.”
CC – stands for crowd control; an ability that completely incapicatates an enemy for an extended period of time, usually a minute. To prevent spamming of the ability, an enemy that is CC’d regains health while in its incapacitated state. The term is also sometimes used as a synonym for stun in PvP.
Common usage: “Okay, I’ll CC the one on the left, Rudy get the one on the far right.”
CC breaker – an ability that pre-emptively ends the effects of a CC or stun.
Common usage: “That guy did a thing to me and now I can’t move!” “Use your CC breaker, Rudy. How many times have I told you that?”
Cooldown – a set amount of time before you can use an ability again.
Common usage: “Rudy, can you use your aimed shot ability?” “Not yet, it’s still on cooldown for seven seconds.”
DOT – damage over time; an ability that does a set amount of damage of the course of several seconds.
Common usage: “Stack your dots early to maximize your damage.”
Enrage Timer – a raid mechanic in which bosses gain a significant damage increase if not defeated within an allotted time period.
Common usage: “He’s enraged! Quick, kill him before he murders all of us!”
Farming – killing a boss that presents no challenge in an attempt gain better gear.
Common usage: “Yeah, I need the tier two helm, so I’m going to farm The Battle of Ilum flashpoint tonight.”
Instance – a type of mission outside the main world of an MMO, created specifically for a party. Instances are exclusive only to members of the party; no outsiders can join them. In SWTOR, instanced missions are called flashpoints.
Common usage: “Sorry, can’t level with you at the moment, I’m in an instance.”
LFG + LFM – looking for group and looking for members; often seen in general chat when forming a PUG.
Common usage: “Level 14 tank LFG to do Esseles,” or “LFM 1 more DPS and 1 more tank to do Esseles.”
PUG – a pick up group of random people brought together to do an instance.
Common usage: “Ugh, I’m in a PUG with a bunch of idiots.”
Peel – inhibiting an enemy from attacking an ally.
Common usage: “I’m planting the bomb, peel for me!”
Re-spec – changing your character’s abilities to focus on another role.
Common usage: “I’m re-speccing to my healer tree; I’m getting tired of DPS.”
Root – a power that causes another player to lose the ability to move for a set period of time. Other abilities are still retained while rooted.
Common usage: “Damn it, that operative rooted me! I can’t move at all.”
Rotation – a set order of abilities to best maximize a player’s damage output.
Common usage: “I’m still working on getting down the rotation on my operative.”
Stunlock – when an enemy player incapicatates you with more than one consecutive stun power, leaving you helpless and open to getting beat up for several seconds.
Common usage: “Damn it, that operative’s got me stunlocked! I can’t do anything.”
Tick – each individual damage on a DOT.
Common usage: “There are two more ticks before the DOT runs out.”
Rudy Basso, an accountant with an English degree, is living proof that your major really doesn’t matter that much. His series Farming Vader will appear here every Friday. You can find more of his writing (and occasional acting) at Cows Come Home.