Glossary of video game terms

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This glossary of video game terms lists the general video game industry terms as commonly used in Wikipedia articles.

0–9[edit]

1-up
In games where player have a number of "lives" to complete a game or level, an object or the act of gaining an extra life. The term "1-UP" also commonly referred to Player number 1. Two player games scores were displayed as "1-UP" and "2-UP".
8-bit
A descriptor for hardware or software that arose during the third generation of video game consoles, targeting 8-bit computer architecture.
16-bit
A descriptor for hardware or software that arose during the fourth generation of video game consoles, targeting 16-bit computer architecture.
2D graphics
The game features 2-dimensional objects.
2.5D graphics
A game consisting of 3D graphics set in a 2D plane of movement, where objects outside of this 2D plane can have an effect on the gameplay.
32-bit
A descriptor for hardware or software that arose during the fifth generation of video game consoles, targeting 32-bit computer architecture.
3D graphics
3D graphics. The game features 3-dimensional objects.
4X
A genre of strategic video games, short for "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate".
64-bit
A descriptor for hardware or software that arose during the fifth generation of video game consoles, targeting 64-bit computer architecture.

A[edit]

AAA
A high-budget game with a large development team, or game studios that make them. AAA games are usually multiplatform, have multimillion dollar marketing budgets, and plan to sell over one million copies.[1]
Abandonware
The idea of a game being forgotten about, or abandoned by the developers for multiple different reasons, one being copyright issues.[2]
Act
See Level
Action point (AP)
A subunit of a player's turn. For example, during each turn, a player can take a set number of actions, each costing a point.[3][4]
Action role-playing game (ARPG)
A genre of role-playing video games where battle actions are performed in real-time instead of a turn-based mechanic.
Actions per minute (APM)
The total number of actions the player can perform in a minute.
AFK
Abbreviation of Away From Keyboard. Generally said through a chat function in online multiplayer games when a player is temporarily unavailable and doing something else.
Aggro
See Hate. Causing aggro is the act of performing (usually) aggressive actions in a video game in order to attract attention of NPCs to defeat the player character. Often used in gaming to grind.
Aimbot (auto-aim)
A first-person shooter cheat that lets players shoot other player-characters without aiming. In most cases, the reticle locks on to a target within the player's line of sight and the player only has to pull the trigger. Aimbots are one of the most popular cheats in multiplayer FPS, used since 1990's Quake.[5]
Alpha release
The alpha version of a game. The stage of development before beta.
Always-on DRM
A type of digital rights management that typically requires the player to be always connected to the Internet to play the game.
Analog stick
A small variation of a joystick, usually placed on a game controller to allow a player more fluent 2-dimensional input than is possible with a D-pad.[6]
AoE
Abbreviation of Age of Empires
Abbreviation of Area of effect
Arcade game
A coin-operated game machine.
Area
See Level
Area of effect (AoE)
Screenshot from FreedroidRPG showing Area of Effect.
A term used in many role-playing and strategy games to describe attacks or other effects that affect multiple targets within a specified area. For example, in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, a fireball spell will deal damage to anyone within a certain radius of where it strikes. This term is not limited to just role-playing games, however; in most tactical strategy games artillery weapons have an area of effect that will damage anyone within a radius of the strike zone.
Area of effect can also refer to spells and abilities that are non-damaging and non-explosive. For example, a powerful healing spell may affect anyone within a certain range of the caster (often only if they are a member of the caster's party). Many games also have what are sometimes referred to as "aura" abilities that will affect anyone in the area around the person with the ability. For example, many strategy games have hero or officer units that can improve the morale and combat performance of friendly units around them. The inclusion of AoE elements in game mechanics can increase the role of strategy, especially in turn-based strategy games. The player has to place units wisely to mitigate the possibly devastating effects of a hostile area of effect attack; however, placing units in a dense formation could result in gains that outweigh the increased AoE damage received.
Point-blank area of effect (abbreviated PBAoE) is a subset of AoE in which the affected region is centered on the character that is performing the ability, rather than a location of the player's choosing. That term, however, is rarely used by players because of its relatively higher complexity to spell out. Thus AoE is more favorably used, especially in MMO games.
ARPG
Abbreviation of Action role-playing game.
Attract mode
The attract mode for the arcade game San Francisco Rush: The Rock showcasing one of the race tracks available to play in the game.
Also known as display mode or show mode, attract mode is a pre-recorded demonstration of a video game that is displayed when the game is not being played.[7] Originally built into arcade games, the main purpose of the attract mode is to entice passers-by to play the game.[7] It usually displays the game's title screen, the game's story (if it has one), its high score list, sweepstakes (on some games) and the message "Game Over" or "Insert Coin" over or in addition to a computer-controlled demonstration of gameplay. In Atari home video games of the 1970s and 1980s, the term attract mode was sometimes used to denote a simple screensaver that slowly cycled the display colors to prevent phosphor burn-in while the game was not being played. Attract modes demonstrating gameplay are common in current home video games.
Attract mode is not only found in arcade games, but in most coin-operated games like pinball machines, stacker machines and lots of other games. Cocktail arcade machines on which the screen flips its orientation for each player's turn in two-player games traditionally have the screen's orientation in player 1's favour for the attract mode.
Auto-aim
Also known as aim-assist is a gameplay mechanic built into many games to decrease the level of difficulty. The game itself has the ability to lock onto or near targets for faster aiming. Games such as the newer Grand Theft Auto titles utilize "hard" or "soft" aim settings to respectively either lock directly onto an enemy or assist the player's aim towards the enemy while giving some freedom of precision for headshots. It is not to be confused with aimbots.

B[edit]

Balance
Beta release
An early release of a video game, following its alpha release, where typically the game developer seeks to remove bugs prior to the released product through feedback from players and testers.
Board
See Level
Bonus stage
A level that is usually unlocked and not normally on the level choose screen until unlocked.
Boss
An opponent non-player character in a video game that is typically much more difficult to defeat compared to normal enemies, often representing the end of a level or a game.
Buff
An effect played on a video game character that beneficially increases one or more of their statistics/characteristics for a temporary period.
Bullet hell
A type of shoot 'em up where generally the player must dodge an overwhelming large number of enemies and their projectiles.

C[edit]

Campaign mode
A campaign mode, story mode, or simply campaign refers to one of several possible operating modes of a game in which levels are specifically encountered in a linear or branching fashion, often with more story elements present compared to other modes (such as a skirmish mode or sound test).
Camping
A controversial strategy in which a player stays in one place – preferably a fortified, high-traffic location – for an extended period of time and waits to ambush other players.[8] It is most common in first-person shooter games.[9] Spawn camping, or spawnkilling, is a related strategy in which players camp at a spawn point.
Character class
A character type with distinct abilities and attributes both positive and negative,[10] such as a warrior, thief, wizard, or priest.[11][12]
Cheating
To play the game unfairly; giving an unfair advantage via illegitimate means.
Checkpoint
See Saved game
Chiptune
Music composed for the microchip-based audio hardware of early home computers and gaming consoles. Due to the technical limitations of earlier video game hardware, chiptune came to define a style of its own, known for its "soaring flutelike melodies, buzzing square wave bass, rapid arpeggios, and noisy gated percussion."[13]
Class
See Character class
Cinematic
See Cutscene
Circle strafing
An advanced method of movement in many First Person Shooter (FPS) games where the user utilized both thumb sticks (console) or mouse and keyboard controls (PC) to maintain a constant circular motion around an enemy, while maintaining a relatively steady aim on that target in the center of your circular movement. This skill minimizes incoming external fire to your character from your target's teammates, as any misses are likely to hit and harm their teammate inside your circle.
Clipping
A game technology that turns objects (e.g., walls) into solid, impenetrable barriers. Also see noclip, a cheat where clipping is disabled.[5]
Closed beta
A beta period where only specific people have access to the game
CMS
Abbreviation of Construction and management simulation
Coin-op
See Arcade game
Combo
Combinations of attacks in a fighting game, during which an opponent is helpless to defend themselves. Introduced in beat-em ups as Double Dragon and Renagade, and becoming more dynamic in Capcom's fighting games Final Fight and Street Fighter II, to correctly execute a combo, a player needs to learn complex series of joystick and button combinations.[14]
Competitive gaming
See Electronic sports
Console
A video game hardware unit that typically offers connects to a video screen and controllers, along with other hardware. Unlike personal computers, a console typically has a fixed hardware configuration defined by its manufacturer and cannot be customized.
Construction and management simulation (CMS)
A video game genre that involves planning out and managing a population of citizens in towns, cities, or other population centers; in such games the player rarely has direct control of the computer-controlled citizens and can only influence them through planning.
Continue
A7Xpg gives the player the opportunity to continue playing after losing his or her last life.
A common term in video games for the option to continue the game after all of the player's lives have been lost, rather than ending the game and restarting from the very beginning. There may or may not be a penalty for doing this, such as losing a certain number of points or being unable to access bonus stages. In arcade games, when a player loses or fails an objective, they will generally be shown a "continue countdown" screen, in which the player has a certain limited amount of time to insert additional coins in order to continue the game from the point where it had ended by pressing the start button; deciding not to continue will result in the displaying of a Game over screen.[15] The continue feature was added to arcade games in the mid-1980s due to arcade owners wanting to earn more money from players who played for longer periods of time.[15] The first arcade game to have a continue feature was Fantasy,[15] and the first home console cartridge to have this feature was the Atari 2600 version of Vanguard.[16]:26 As a result of the continue feature, games started to have stories and definite endings; however, those games were designed so that it would be nearly impossible to get to the end of the game without continuing.[15] Salen and Zimmerman argue that the continue feature in games such as Gauntlet was an outlet for conspicuous consumption.[17]
Controller
A means of control over the console or PC you are playing the game on.
Control pad
See D-pad
Control point
A gamemode which involves the team capturing each required "capture point" in order to win the round or level.
Also known as CP.
Control stick
See Analog stick
Conversation tree
See Dialog tree
Cooldown
The minimum length of time that the player needs to wait after using an ability before they can use it again. This concept was first introduced by the text MUD Avalon: The Legend Lives. Similar to the reload time and firing rate of weapons. For example, a machine gun has very fast firing rate, so it has a very low cooldown between shots. Comparatively, a shotgun has a long reload/cooldown time between each shots. Cooldown also can be used to 'balance' a weapon such as a turret-mounted machine gun having infinite ammunition, since it can only sustain continuous fire until reaching a threshold at which the weapon would have to cool down (hence the term) before it could be fired again.
In design terms, cooldown can also be thought of as an inverted 'casting time' where instead of requiring a wait time before using an ability, cooldown may replace casting time and put the wait after the ability is activated. This creates a new dimension to the balancing act of casting speed versus power: "lower cooldown, faster cast, but weaker strength" versus "higher cooldown, slower cast, but greater strength." This sort of mechanic is integral to such games as World of Warcraft, where cooldown management is key to higher-level play and various abilities deal with cooldown (for example, cooldown reduction or immediately finishing cooldown on certain abilities). From the technical point of view, cooldown can also be used to assert control over frequency of cast (for spamming) in order to maintain a fluid frame rate and ping. For example, in the game Diablo II, cooldown was added in the form of a patch to several graphically and CPU intensive spells (blizzard, frozen orb, hydra, etc.) to solve the problem of extreme lag caused by players spamming these spells in multiplayer.
Moves and attacks in fighting games (like those from the Street Fighter series) have the amount of time each of them take to execute measured in "frames" (1/60th of a second per frame). Each move has a certain amount of frames in which it is considered to be "recovering" before another move can be executed, which is similar to cooldowns in concept. However, unlike the concept of the cooldown, where a move, spell or ability is considered to be cooling down before it can be used again but control over one's character/unit is still available, the recovery frames of a move in a fighting game do not allow the player to perform any other attacks or movement until the move has fully recovered. Because of this mechanic, strategic use of skills is necessary to make sure the opponent cannot immediately counter the player during the recovery phase of an attack, since it leaves the player wide open.
Corruptor
A computer program used either as or in conjunction with an emulator to corrupt certain data within a ROM or ISO by a user-desired amount, causing varied effects, both visually and audibly, to a video game and its data, including but not limited to displaced or misdirected pixels in a spritemap, never-ending levels, artifacts, distorted or entirely incorrect sprites, polygons, textures, or character models, spastic animations, incorrect text or dialogue trees, flickering graphics or lights, incorrect or distorted audio, inconvenient invisible walls, lack of collision detection, and other forced glitches, usually meant to be done for humorous effect. Most often, the end result is unwinnable, if the game doesn't end up freezing in some way or entirely crashing the corruptor and associated programs as a whole.
Cover system
A gameplay mechanics which allows the player to use walls or other features of the game's environment to take cover from oncoming ranged attacks, typically gunfire in first-person shooters. Many cover systems also allow the character to use range attacks in return while in cover although with an accuracy penalty.[18]
CPU vs. CPU
See Zero-player game
Crafting
To craft an item in game. Practically every modern Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game and many "world builders" (Minecraft, Terraria) utilize this mechanic. The ability to create your own gear takes some of the "grind" out of properly gearing your characters.
Critical hit
A type of Hit that will do more damage than usual. Normally a rare occurrence without Upgrades
Cross-platform
See Multiplatform
Crowd control
An ability, usually with an area of effect, that is used primarily in Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games to incapacitate or hinder enemy creatures so that they can be handled in an ordered or controlled fashion. In early raids (a form of large group, end-game content of extreme difficulty) in World of Warcraft, proper use of crowd control was vital to be able to successfully complete many of the objectives of the raid and defeat the raid bosses.
CRPG
Abbreviation of computer/console role-playing-game
Cutscene
A (usually) short video which provides detail and exposition to the story. These videos, usually in much higher graphical resolution and detail than the basic game, are used extensively in MMOs and RPGs to move the story forward.
Cybersport
See Electronic sports

D[edit]

D-pad
A 4-directional rocker button that allows the player to direct game action in eight different directions: up, down, left, right, and the diagonals involving these. Invented by Gunpei Yokoi for the Game & Watch-series of handheld consoles, Nintendo used the "directional pad" (or "cross-key" in Japan) for their Nintendo Entertainment System-controller and it has been used on nearly every console controller since.[6]
Damage over time (DoT)
An effect, such as poison or catching on fire, that reduces a player's Health over the course of time or turns.
Damage per second (DPS)
Used as a metric in some games to allow the player to determine their offensive power.
Day one (release date)
The day of release for a video game.
Debuff
The opposite of a buff, an effect placed on a character that negatively impacts their statistics and characteristics. Can also refer to effects that nullify or cancel the effects of buffs. Also known as a nerf.
Design
See Video game design
Development
The development period of a game.
Dialog tree
Found primarily in adventure games, a means of providing a menu of dialog choices to the player when interacting with a non-player character as to learn more from that character, influence the character's actions, and otherwise progress the game's story. The tree nature comes from typically having multiple branching levels of questions and replies that can be explored.
Difficulty
How hard (or difficult) the #Level is.
Digital rights management (DRM)
Software tools for copyright protection
Directional pad
See D-pad
Display mode
See Attract mode
DLC
Abbreviation for downloadable content.
Double jump
An additional jump that follows the first in quick succession[19]
Downloadable content (DLC)
Additional content for a video game that is acquired through digital download and often requiring additional purchase.
DPM
Abbreviation of "damage per minute", used as a metric in some games to allow the player to determine their offensive power.
DPS
Abbreviation of Damage per second
DRM
Abbreviation of Digital rights management
Dungeon
See Level
Dungeon crawl
A type of video game that is based around exploring a dungeon or similar setting, defeating monsters and collecting loot.
Dynamic game difficulty balancing

E[edit]

Emulator
A software program that is designed to replicate the software and hardware of a video game console on more modern computers and other devices. Emulators typically include the ability to load in software images of cartridges and other similar hardware-based game distribution methods from the earlier hardware generations, in addition to more traditional software images.
Episode
Electronic sports (esports)
Organized competitions around video games, typically using games from the first person shooter and multiplayer online battle arena genres, and often played for prizes and recognition.
Endgame or End game

The gameplay available in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game for characters that have completed their level progression

Emergent gameplay
Strategies of play that use the game environment in ways unintended by the game developer, e.g., scaling a wall by placing proximity mines in Deus Ex.[5]
ESP cheats (extra-sensory perception cheats)
A package of multiple cheats. E.g., "distance ESP" shows the distance between the enemy and the player, "player ESP" makes enemies highly visible, and "weapon ESP" shows enemy weapons.[20]
eSports
See Electronic sports
Experience point
In games that feature the ability for the player character(s) to gain levels such as CRPGs and JRPGs, experience points are used to denote progress towards the next level.

F[edit]

Free to Play (F2P, FTP)
Games that do not require purchase from a retailer, either physical or digital, to play. Wildly prevalent amongst smartphone apps, many "Free To Play" games are "free", but to achieve any real success in them requires in-game purchases of materials or abilities.
Farming
Repeating a battle, quest or a similar part of the game in order to receive either experience points, money, or specific items that can be gained through that battle or quest; see Grinding
Fast Travel
Common in role-playing games, a means by which to have the player-character(s) travel between already-discovered portions of the game's world without having to actually interactively move that distance.[21]
Field of view (FOV)
A measurement reflecting how much of the game world is visible to the player on the display screen.
Final boss
See Boss
First-party developer
A developer that is either owned directly by a console maker, or has special arrangements with the console maker that provides greater access to internal details about a console compared to traditional developers.
First-person shooter (FPS)
A genre of video games where the player experiences the game from the first person perspective, and where the primary mechanic is the use of guns and other ranged weapons to defeat enemies.
FOV
See Field of view
FPS
An abbreviation for either First-person shooter or Frames per second (see Frame rate)
Flashing invulnerability
(Sometimes called "invincibility frames", "invulnerability period", etc.) An invincibility or immunity to damage that occurs after the player takes damage for a short time, indicated by the player's character blinking or "buffering", to prevent the player from taking any immediate additional damage again until it wears off.
Fog of war
A means by which a portion of a game map may remain hidden or without visibility of units occupying that region, typically due to lack of visibility (a function of the gameplay mechanics) or having been unexplored. Common in strategic or tactical game genres.
The player cannot see enemy activity beneath the greyed out fog of war.
Frag
See Kill
Frame rate
A measure of the rendering speed of a video game, typically in frames per second (FPS).
Free look
To be able to look around the map freely. This is usually an ability that is disabled to common users, but left in the game coding as a developer's tool and is unlockable if the proper code is known.

G[edit]

Game design
See video game design
Game localization
See Localization
Game mechanics
This is an overarching term to describe the specific in-game interactions of any specific game or family of games. Mechanics are rules or methods designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing gameplay. Examples of game mechanics include points, turns, as well as a game's direct reaction on the player's input.
Game mode

A mode is a distinct configuration that varies gameplay and affects how other game mechanics behave, such as a single player mode vs a multiplayer mode.

Game over
The end of the game (failure screen).
Gameplay
Game port
When a game is Ported from one platform to another
Game save
See Saved game
Game studies
An area of social sciences that attempt to quantify or predict human behavior in various game-based scenarios, often where there is a reward or risk in taking certain actions.
Ghost

A feature included in time attack or time trial modes in video games allowing the player to review their previous rounds. In racing games, for example, a "ghost car" may follow the last or fastest path a player took around the track. In fighting games, the ghost is an opponent that the computer AI player can train against outside of normal player versus player or story mode.

Ghost cars in racing games generally appear as translucent or flashing versions of the player's vehicle. Based on previously recorded lap times, they serve only to represent the fastest lap time and do not interact dynamically with other competitors. A skilled player will use the ghost to improve his time, matching the ghost's racing line as it travels the course. Many racing games, including Gran Turismo, F-Zero, and Mario Kart, offer a ghost function. Some also show ghosts set by staff members and developers, often showing perfect routes and lap times. A variation of the feature, dubbed by Firemonkeys Studios as "Time-Shifted Multiplayer", was implemented in the mobile racing game Real Racing 3.[22] It works by recording the lap times of people in each race, and using statistics from other players for the game's artificial intelligence to recreate their lap times for the player to beat. The ghost cars can collide with the player and other vehicles, and are fully visible to the player.

In some rhythm games, such as the Elite Beat Agents and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! games multiplayer mode, you can choose to use your saved replay data as one of the players instead of playing the game yourself.

Gib
To "gib" one's opponents is to hit them with such force (often with explosives) that they rupture.
Gimp
God mode (infinite health/life, invincibility, invulnerability)
A cheat that makes player-characters invulnerable.[5] Occasionally adds invincibility, where the player can hurt enemies by touching them (e.g., the Super Mario Super Star).[23] The effect can also be temporary.[24]
Gold farming
See Farming
Gone gold
The point in the software development cycle where the software is considered final and ready to be shipped. The term traditionally related to the production of games on CD-ROM, where the final version of the game, the master copy, would be written to a gold film-based writable CD and sent to be replicated for retail.
Graphic content filter
A setting that controls whether the game displays graphic violence[25]
Griefer
A player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game, using aspects of the game in unintended ways.
Grinding
Completing repetitive tasks, especially in an RPG, which is generally agreed to be undesirable because it does not advance the plot. Grinding may be necessary to begin defeating harder enemies in an RPG when normal play lacks enough content to level the player. It is usually necessary in order to reach the highest level. Although normally a negatively-charged term, some players enjoy grinding for the sake of it and do not find the requirement to grind to be a flaw in game mechanics; some even consider it a charm of the genre.

H[edit]

Handheld console
A portable gaming console
Hate
A mechanism by which Non-player characters prioritize which players to attack.
Head bob
In first-person view games, the up-and-down (and sometimes left and right) motion of the player's camera to simulate the bobbing of one's head when walking or running. It is often an option that can be disabled as it may induce motion sickness in players.
Headshot
See Critical hit
Health
The remaining amount of metered damage that a character or player can take before dying or losing a life.
Hitbox
The physical envelope describing precisely where the game will register any hits on a player.
Hit points
See Health

I[edit]

In-app purchase (IAP)
A purchase (microtransaction) made within a mobile game or app, usually for virtual goods in low-cost games[26]
Indie game (independent video game)
Loosely defined as a game made by a person or studio without any financial, development, marketing, or distribution support from a large publisher, though there are indie games that are exceptions to this definition.
Infinite health/life
See god mode
Inventory
A menu or area of the screen where items collected by the player during the game are stored. This interface allows the player to retrieve any item to use it as an instant effect, or to equip the player character with the item.
Invincibility
See god mode
Invisible wall
A physical impediment in a video game that halts progress in a specific direction, even though terrain and features can be seen beyond the boundary. Bethesda Softworks popular series The Elder Scrolls utilized this feature in the fourth release, Oblivion, much to many users' frustration.
Invulnerability
See god mode

J[edit]

Joystick
Note: Do not confuse this with "an Analog stick"
An input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling, such as a plane.
JRPG
Abbreviation of Japanese role-playing game, typically referring to a subgenre of RPGs that originated from Japan
Jump
A basic move where the player jumps vertically upon pressing the action button[27]

K[edit]

Kill screen
For the magazine, see Kill Screen.
Level 256 in Pac-Man, considered to be unplayable under normal circumstances due to an integer overflow in the game's code.

A stage or level in a video game (often an arcade game) that stops the player's progress due to a software bug.[28] Kill screens can result in unpredictable gameplay and bizarre glitches.[29]

Notable arcade kill screens include:

  • In the coin-operated version of Dig Dug, the game ends on round 256 (round 0), where the player cannot move and ultimately dies.[30]
  • Pac-Man has a kill screen on level 256 based on an integer overflow.[31][32] Ars Technica calls this "one of the most well known accidental endings in gaming".[30] Billy Mitchell was the first person to perform a perfect play of Pac-Man, stopped only by the kill screen.[33] The games Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man also have kill screens.[30] Pac-Man's kill screen was playable, but rendered in such a way that it was not possible to gather sufficient points to advance.
  • Donkey Kong has a kill screen caused by an overflow condition, where the game timer kills the player before it is possible to beat the level.[30] Ars Technica calls it the "second-most famous kill screen of all of gaming"[30] and Wired described it as "mythic".[34][35] This was popularized in the documentary The King of Kong.[30]
  • Duck Hunt also has a kill screen after level 99 in which the ducks become invincible and fly at a high speed.[30]
  • Galaga's kill screen occurs on level 256 (level 0), when an integer overflow occurs and the game turns into a blank screen that Joshuah Bearman described as "an existential void".[36]
Kill stealing
The practice of arranging to get credit for killing an enemy, when it should have clearly been another player's kill.
Kiting
A maneuver for a video game player-character to use ranged attacks to continually attack an opponent, often luring the opponent into following the player. This can be used in team-based or cooperative games to allow the player's teammates to attack the opponent, or to prepare a trap for the opponent to fall into once lured into a specific area.
Knock-back

When a character in a fighting game or platform game gets hit by an attack, it might experience being knocked back. During knock-back, the character is unable to change its direction until a short animation is finished.[37] Knock-back commonly results in falling down pits as the player loses control of their character.

L[edit]

Lag
The time between the stimulation and response; often discussed as network-caused delay between player control actions and on-screen effects during on-line gameplay.
Let's Play
A type of video game run-through done by players, through screenshots or video, where the player provides commentary about the game as they work through it.
This is a bird's eye view of a typical MOBA level in the mobile game Vainglory.
Level
A stage in a game. Level may also represent experience levels or difficulty levels, depending on context.
Level editor
A program, either provided within the game software or as an additional program, that allows players to create new levels for video games.
Life
In video games, if a player character loses all of its health points, it loses a life. Losing all of one's lives is usually a loss condition and may force the player to start over. It is common in action games for the player character to have multiple lives and chances to earn more during the game. This way, a player can recover from making a disastrous mistake. role-playing games and adventure games usually give the player only one life, but allow them to reload a saved game.[38][39] A life may similarly be defined as the period between the start and end of play for any character, from creation to destruction.[40]
Light gun
A specialized game controller which the player points at their television screen or monitor to interact with the game. The controller has means to determine where the player is aiming on the screen as to have the game respond appropriate to a firing action.
Localization
During publishing, the process of editing a game for audiences in another region or country, primarily by translating the text and dialog of a video game. Localization can also involve changing content of the game to reflect different cultural values and censoring unlawful content.
Loot system
Methods used in multiplayer games to distribute treasure among cooperating players for finishing a quest.

M[edit]

Magic
Any of a variety of systems in games to render fantastical or otherwise unnatural effects utilizing a game mechanic, either accessories (scrolls, potions, artifacts) or a pool of resources inherent to the character ("mana", magic points, etc).
Maining
A term meaning to "Main" or focus on a certain character.
Map
See Level
Massively multiplayer online game (MMO)
A game that involves a large community of online players co-existing and cooperating (and sometimes combatting one another).
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)
An MMO that utilizes traditional role-playing game game mechanics into its gameplay. Classic games such as EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot were progenitors of the genre. The most popular and most well-known game of this type is Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft.
Matchmaking
A game type that involves player specifying the type of game play they want to take part in (Capture the Flag, Slayer, etc) and sometimes which specific map or level they want to use. The game server then gathers players together who have matching game play requests into a single game and launches the game. Online shooter/FPS games such as Call of Duty and Halo are famous for these mechanics.
Maxed out or Maxing out

Reaching the maximum level that a character (or in some cases, a weapon) can have, or raising all the character statistics to the maximum value.

Meta
A term used to describe the current norm or standard class in games.
Microtransactions
The use of real money in in-game stores.
Miniboss
See Boss
Minigame
A game that is not part of the main game, hence the name "mini".
Min-Maxing
The practice of playing a role-playing game, wargame or video game with the intent of creating the "best" character by means of minimizing undesired or unimportant traits and maximizing desired ones.[41] This is usually accomplished by improving one specific trait or ability by sacrificing ability in all other fields. This is easier to accomplish in games where attributes are generated from a certain number of points rather than in ones where they are randomly generated.[42]
Mission
See Level and/or Quest
MMO
Abbreviation of Massively multiplayer online game
MMORPG
Abbreviation of Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Mob
Mob is a term for an in-game enemy who roams a specific area. It is an abbreviation of "mobile", and came into prevalence with the explosion of MMOs and the greater computing power available to these games. In older games, enemies you encountered were stationary, only occupying a specific location within the game and were therefore not "mobs".
MOBA
Abbreviation of Multiplayer online battle arena
Mod
An addition to a game that is not officially in the game.
Mode
See Game mode
Mouselook
See Free look
MP
See Magic
MUD
Multiplatform
Also cross-platform
Multiplayer
A game that allows multiple players to play at once.
Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)
A genre of real-time strategy games popularized by Defense of the Ancients that pits teams of players to defend their home base from enemy onslaughts.
Multiple character control
An emerging feature of role-playing video games where the player controls multiple characters in real-time. The PlayStation 2 was the first console to pick up this feature with the Summoner series and Dynasty Warriors series. Four computer games have implemented this feature, all free massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs): 2029, Eudemons Online, Granado Espada and Kingdom Heroes. Both Granado Espada and Kingdom Heroes have Automatic character training/AFK Leveling, and thus require high computer specifications.
Multiplier
In games with a scoring system, a gameplay element that increases the value of the points earned by the given multiplier value while the multiplier is active.

N[edit]

Nerf
A change intended to weaken a particular item, tactic, ability, or character, ostensibly for balancing purposes.
Newbie
Someone new to the game, generally used as a pejorative, although usually light-heartedly. See also, "Noob" (below).
Noclip mode
A cheat that lets players pass through normally impenetrable objects, walls, ceilings, and floors (by disabling clipping). It lets players reach inaccessible areas.[5]
Noob
A pejorative used to insult a player who is making rookie mistakes or mistakes a player new to or unfamiliar with the game would make. Generally the most common term for flaming found in and around the gaming community.
See Newbie.
Non-player character (NPC)
A computer controlled character.
Noscope
Similar to Quickscoping, this is a term where the gamer technically, doesn't use the scope to shoot his opponents.
Note highway
A visual element of most rhythm games that show the notes the player must match as they scroll along the screen. This is more commonly considered a "highway" when the notes scroll down the screen on a perspective-based grid, making it appear as a road highway.
NPC
Abbreviation of Non-player character

O[edit]

Old-school gaming
See Retrogaming
Online game
A Multiplayer game that supports gameplay over the internet.
OP
Abbreviation of Overpowered
Open beta
The game is open to the public whilst in beta.
Open world
Another term for a sandbox game. Bethesda Softworks The Elder Scrolls series of games are nominally sandbox/open world games, within their defined physical boundaries. Once the game starts and the mandatory opening sequences are played through, the game is wide open. You can follow the main storyline, you can wander about righting wrongs and doing good deeds, or you can ruthlessly murder everyone you find and pillage whole villages. There are no restrictions on your travel or interactions within the scope of the entire game world (minus any special locations that are only unlocked/accessible for or during certain quests or events).
Overpowered (OP)
An item, ability or other effect that is too powerful, thus making the game unbalanced.
Overworld
See Level

P[edit]

Paddle
A game controller that primarily included a large dial that could be turned either clockwise or counter-clockwise as to generate movement in one direction within a game.
Parry
The action of blocking an attack.
Perks
Special bonuses that video game players can add to their characters to give special abilities. Similar to Power ups, but permanent rather than temporary.
Permanent death (permadeath, PD)
A game or mode where once the player's character has died or lost the game, they must restart the game completely instead of from a save or checkpoint.
Persistent world
A common feature of open-world multiplayer games that are run on a server, in which the game's world remains open while players may log in or out, with all affects that players have staying persistent in the world.
Physical release
A version of a video game released on an optical disc or other storage device, as opposed to a digital download.
Pixel hunting
Also known as Hunt-the-pixel, refers to a common trope in old adventure games when players had to find very small items hidden in pixellated graphics. It is a term used to describe some computer game interfaces involving point and click with a mouse. The term is usually applied to adventure games in which the primary difficulty with some portion of the game lies in finding an object on the screen. In some cases, the required object is quite small, and may be only a few pixels in size. The player may not have any idea what to look for, but often the game cannot progress without finding it. Players often apply the term to any game in which the gameplay is hindered by the frustrating task of determining precisely where on the screen to click.
An example of pixel hunting appears from The X-Files: The Game, where a vital clue is a bullet exactly 2x2 pixels in size. Other examples can be found in Dark Seed, where the player must locate a small bobby pin lying on the floor of a library, or in Beneath a Steel Sky, where the player must identify and use (without prompting) such tiny items as a 2x2 pixel lump of putty, a thumb-sized metal plate in a poorly lit club, and a barely distinguishable light socket in an abandoned metro tunnel. Pixel hunting is also crucial in Future Wars, where items are not only hard to find and required relatively late in respect to their original location but also, to successfully find an item, the player character has to stand close to its location on the screen. Dreamweb actually incorporates a "magnifying glass" effect with a sighting reticle into its interface to assist the player in locating the many infinitesimal hotspots scattered thickly through its rooms. The problem was endemic in the controversial adventure Limbo of the Lost, which featured minuscule, crucial objects in deep shadow, sometimes off the edge of the screen or obscured by the game's status bar.
Missed objects will not always lead to an unwinnable situation, but sometimes will offer just better alternative approaches to future puzzles, being thus something like Easter eggs. Some games made by Sierra On-Line, including Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers and portions of the Space Quest and King's Quest series, featured interfaces that at times required a hunt-the-pixel approach. One situation in LucasArts's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, which required the player to locate a particular book among several screens full of book stacks. However, LucasArts games have the advantage of a status line indicating the object the cursor is currently over. Another remedy was to make essential objects flash, or some other method to make the element more visible against the benign background, as is done for example at the beginning of King's Quest VI with Alexander's twinkling insignia ring on the beach. In LucasArt's Sam and Max Hit the Road the cursor will have a red border when above a clickable location. The Simon the Sorcerer series avoided pixel hunting all together, by allowing the player to press F10 at any time to highlight all the hotspots on the current screen.
Pixel-hunting is extremely common in games of the escape the room genre. Players must not only find and click on very small items, but sometimes must also find very small arbitrary, and invisible hotspots in order to trigger a change in point of view. Many authors of on-line Flash point-and-click adventure games have disabled the tab key to prevent players from easily cycling through all the hotspots. Digital Spy argues having "a cursor that changes shape when over an item of interest" makes this problem "nonexistent".[43]
Platform
Refers to the specific combination of electronic components or computer hardware which, in conjunction with software, allows a video game to operate.
Platform game (platformer)
Player-character
A Player Character, or PC, is the main protagonist controlled and played by the human player in a video game. Tidus from Final Fantasy X, Doomguy from the Doom series, and Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series are all "player characters" developed by their game studios. Your characters you create in MMOs and MMORPGs are also "player characters".
Player versus environment (PvE)
Refers to fighting computer-controlled enemies (non-playing characters), as opposed to PvP (player versus player).
Player versus player (PvP)
Refers to competing against other players, as opposed to PvE (player versus environment).
Playthrough
The act of playing a game from start to finish, in one or several sessions.
Port
See Game Port.
Power-up
Objects that instantly benefit or add extra abilities to the game character, usually as a temporary effect. Persistent power-ups are called perks.
Power creep
The gradual unbalancing of a game due to successive releases of new content.[44] The phenomenon may be caused by a number of different factors and, in extreme cases, can be damaging to the longevity of the game in which it takes place. As new expansions or updates are released, new game mechanics, units, equipment and/or effects are introduced, usually stronger than previously existing content. Game developers use this primarily to push the new content, as it gives an incentive to buy it for competitions against other players or as new challenges for the single player experience. As new content with more power is introduced, the average powerlevel within the game rises, making it increasingly difficult for older content to remain in balance without changes. This means older content becomes regressively outdated or relatively underpowered, effectively rendering it useless from a competitive or challenge-seeking viewpoint. In extreme cases whole parts of the game will be avoided by the players, as they are overshadowed by newer content.
Procedural generation
When the game algorithmically combines randomly generated elements for things like map or level creation.
Professional gaming
See eSports
Publisher
The publisher of the game.
PvE
Abbreviation of Player versus Environment
PvP
Abbreviation of Player versus Player

Q[edit]

QTE
Abbreviation of Quick time event
Quest
A "quest" is any objective-based activity created in-game for the purpose of either story or character level advancement. Quests follow many common types, such as "Kill X number of Y monster", "Gather X number of Y item", or "Escort this person from point A to point B and keep them safe". Some quests involve more detailed information and mechanics and are either greatly enjoyed by players as a break from the above common monotony, or are reviled as uselessly more complicated than necessary to the game.
Quick time event (QTE)
An event within a game that typically requires the player to press an indicated controller button or move a controller's analog controls within a short time window to succeed in the event and progress forward, while failure to do so may harm the player-character or lead to a game-over situation. Such controls are generally non-standard for the game, and the action performed in a quick time event is usually not possible to execute in regular gameplay.[45]
Quicksave/Quickload
A mechanism in a video game where progress to or from a saved game can be done by pressing a single controller button or keystroke, instead of opening a file dialog to locate the save file. Typically, quicksaving will overwrite any previous saved state.
Quickscoping
A technique in first-person shooter video games used to kill an opponent by quickly aiming down the sniper rifle scope and firing immediately after.

R[edit]

Rack
See Level
Rage Game
A video game which is designed to be extremely difficult and frustrating, with elements that intentionally try to 'cheat' in some way or form, with the intent of causing a player to become extremely angry and rage quit.
Rage Quit
Quitting a game in an act of anger.
Raid
A type of mission in a video game in which a very large number of people (larger than the normal team size set by the game) attempt to defeat a boss monster. Common in MMORPGs.
Real-time corruptor
A type of ROM/ISO corruption program which incrementally and gradually corrupts video game data in real time as the game is being played. A game could look fine at start-up, but as time goes by, the game data becomes more and more distorted, and the game will eventually become unplayable and/or crash.
Real-time strategy (RTS)
A genre of video games where the player controls one or more units in real-time combat with human or computer opponents.
Remorting

Restarting a game with a new character from level 1 after having maxed out a previous character.

Retrogaming
Rhythm game
A genre of video games requiring the player to perform actions in time to the game's music.
Roguelike
A genre of video games featuring procedurally-generated level generation and permanent death.
Role-playing video game (RPG)
An RPG is a game where in the human player takes on the role of a specific character "class" and advances the skills and abilities of that character within the game environment. RPG characters generally have a wide variety of skills and abilities available to them, and much theorycrafting (the art of developing a specific character type to its highest in-game potential) is involved in creating the best possible form of each of these character classes.
This is different from games such as First Person Shooters (FPS), wherein the "player character" in those games are all standardized forms and the physical skills of the player involved are the determining factor in their success or failure within the game. In an RPG, a human player can be the best player in the world at the game, but if they are using a character build that is substandard, they can be significantly outplayed by a lesser player running a more optimal character build.
ROM hacking
Room-over-room
In video game environments, room-over-room is the placement of a room directly above another room. This was impossible to achieve in id Software's Doom series, since the Doom engine did all of the mapping in 2D, while height variance was done via numbers. In true 3D game engines to follow, such as those using the Quake engine, room-over-room became an easy effect to pull off.
RPG
Abbreviation of Role-playing video game
Round
See Level
RTS
Abbreviation of Real-time strategy games.
Rubber banding
A game mechanic resulting from dynamic game balancing that alters the rules of the game to keep the game both competitive and fun. It is most notable in racing games, where human players may easily outdistance computer opponents; in these games the computer opponents are often given the ability to go faster than normal or avoid certain obstacles as to allow them to catch up and outpace the player, the effect acting as a stretching and releasing a rubber band between the player and the computer opponent. This effect may also apply to human players as well, with the game providing unstated handicaps for losing players to stay competitive.[46]

S[edit]

Sandbox game
A game wherein the player has been freed from the traditional structure and direction typically found in video games, and is instead given the ability to choose what, when, and how they want to approach the available choices in content. The term is in reference to a child's sandbox in which no rules are present and play is derived from open-ended choice. While some sandbox games may have building and creation aspects to their gameplay, those activities are not required. Sandbox games usually take place in an open-world setting as to facilitate the freedom of choice a player is given.
Saved game (game save, savegame, savefile)
A file or similar data storage method that stores the state of the game in non-temporary memory, enabling the player to shut down the gaming system and then later restart the system and load the game state from the game file to continuing playing where they left off. Saved games may also be used to store the game's state before a difficult area that, should the player-character die, the player can restart from that save point.
Save point
A place in the game world of a video game where a game save can be made.
Save scumming
The manipulation of game save states to gain an advantage during play or achieve a particular outcome out of unpredictable events.[47] It is used, for example, in Rogue-like games that automatically delete any save files when your character dies.
Season pass
A purchase made in addition to the cost of the base game that generally enables the purchaser access to all downloadable content that is planned for that title without further cost.
Secret level
A game level which is only accessible to the player by completing specific tasks within the game; these tasks are rarely described in detail to the player, if at all, and are often only found through exploration and trial and error.
Shovelware
A type of often-licensed video game released in large amounts and with little attention to quality control. Usually makes up the majority of titles on any given system.
Show mode
See Attract mode
Simulation game (Sim)
Single-player
A game that can only have one player at a time.
Skill tree
A simplified example of a skill tree structure, in this case for the usage of firearms.
A character development gaming mechanic typically seen in role-playing games. A skill tree consists of a series of skills (sometimes known as perks or by other names) which can be earned by the player as he or she levels up or otherwise progresses his or her player character. These skills grant gameplay benefits to the player; for example, giving the character the ability to perform a new action, or giving a boost to one of the character's stats.[48]
A skill tree is called a "tree" because it uses a tiered system and typically branches out into multiple paths. A tiered skill tree will require a player to achieve certain skills before the next tier of skills become available. The player may be required to achieve all skills in one tier before moving on to the next tier, or may only be required to complete prerequisites for individual branches. Skill trees are a common tool used for in-game balancing by game designers. Skill trees also offer a "game within a game" in which players are not only playing a video game, but their decisions on how they allocate points into their skill trees will affect their overall gaming experience as they play on.[48]
The action roleplaying game Diablo II, released in 2000, is often cited as the true innovator of in depth skill trees.[48]
Skirmish mode
A gameplay mode in which players can fight immediate battles without having to go through the linear, story-based campaign mode. In comparison to a campaign mode, skirmish mode neglects story elements and often pits the player against peer- or computer-controlled opponents in a one-off round of gameplay, which may differ from gameplay in other modes slightly. The level or stages may be variable, and will often be similar or identical to stages encountered in a story mode. This is more common in real time strategy and tactics games. It is popular in real-time strategy games.[49]
Smurfing
The act of playing a game under a different name or account to either play against less skilled/unskilled players, spy, etc.
Sound test
A page or option in which the game makes noise to confirm that the player's audio equipment is working and at a good volume.
Speedrun
An attempt to complete a game as fast as possible. Players may exploit graphical glitches or bugs in the game to speed up their gameplay.[50]
Split-screen multiplayer
A game that presents 2 or more views seen by different players in a multiplayer game on the same display unit.
Stage
See Level
Status effect
This is an overarching term that covers both "buffs" and "debuffs". Essentially, any effect to a character that is outside of the normal baseline is a "status effect". Common negative status effects are poisoning (damage over time), petrification/paralysis (inability to move), or armor/damage reduction (lowering of defensive/offensive abilities). Common positive status effects include a heal-over-time (a small, pulsing heal that triggers multiple times over a set period), armor/damage increases, or speed increases.
Strafing
To move sideways to dodge incoming attacks.
Strategy guide
Printed or online manuals that are written to guide players through a game, typically offering maps, lists of equipment, moves, abilities, enemies, and secrets, and providing tips and hints for most effective play strategies.
Survival mode
See Survival mode
Subgame
See Minigame
Superboss
See Boss

T[edit]

Technology tree (tech tree)
A branching series of technologies that can be researched in strategy games, to customise the player's faction. See Skill tree.
Theory
See Game studies
Theorycraft
The analysis of a video game to mathematically determine the most optimal approach to winning the video game, typically in games that feature a number of player-character attributes that are enumerated; one common type of theorycraft is figuring out how to best maximize one's damage per second by the right selection of equipment in a action role-playing game.
Thumbstick
See Analog stick
Title screen
OpenArena title screen.
The initial screen of a computer, video, or arcade game after the credits and logos of the game developer and the publisher are displayed. Earlier title screens often included all the game options available (single player, multiplayer, configuration of controls, etc.) while modern games have opted for the title screen to serve as a splash screen. This can be attributed to the use of the title screen as a loading screen, in which to cache all the graphical elements of the main menu. Older computer and video games had relatively simple menu screens, that often featured pre-rendered artwork.
In arcade games, the title screen is shown as part of the attract mode loop, usually after a game demonstration is played. The title screen, as well as the high score list, urges potential players to insert coins. In console games, especially if the screen is not merged with the main menu, it urges the player to press start. Similarly, in computer games, the message "Hit any key" is often displayed. Controls that lack an actual "Start" button use a different prompt; in the Nintendo Wii, for example, usually prompts to press the "A" button and the "B" trigger simultaneously, as in Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Mario Party 9. Fan-made games often parody the style of basis of the creation.
Triple A
See AAA
Triple jump
An additional jump that follows the second in quick succession[19]
Touchscreen
When the screen of the console can be touched and get a response.
Trackball
A form of a video game controller, most often found on video game arcade cabinets, which the player uses a freely-rotating ball to interact with a game .
Turn-based game
When a game consists of multiple turns. Once one player's turn is up, they must wait until everyone else has finished their turn.

U[edit]

Underpowered
A character, item, tactic, or ability considered to be too weak to be balanced.
Upgrade
A way to make the given item, character, etc. more powerful.
See also: Upgrade.

V[edit]

Vaporware
Video games which are announced and appear in active development for some time but then subsequently are never released nor officially cancelled.
Replay value
The ability to play the game again and get the same enjoyment a second(+) time.
Video game design
For non-video game design, see game design

W[edit]

Walkthrough

It may be used with two meanings:

Wallhack
A cheat that makes walls translucent.[5] Some wallhacks also let players shoot weapons or physically pass through walls (noclip).[20]
Wall jump
A jump performed off of a wall to propel the player in the opposite direction. Wall jumps between two tight walls can be done in quick succession to climb vertically. As a special jump, it is sometimes an acquired skill instead of available from the game's start.[19]
Warp zone
An area in a video game where players can go from one place or level to another.
WASD keys
A common control mechanism using a typical QWERTY keyboard, with the keys "W", "A", "S", and "D" bound to movement controls.
Wave
In game genres or modes where player(s) are to defend a point or stay alive as long as possible (such as tower defense games), enemies are commonly grouped into "waves" (sometimes referred to as levels). Once all foes in a wave is completed, player(s) are typically given a short bit of time to prepare for the next such wave.
Win quote
A phrase spoken by a fighting game character after defeating an opponent. In older games such as Fatal Fury and traditionally in 2D fighting games such as Capcom vs. SNK, it is not an actual voice sample, but text superimposed on an image of the winning character, occasionally depicted alongside the visibly injured defeated character (Street Fighter II for example). Win quotes are rarely particularly profound, and are often little more than trash talk, but they help players to understand and identify with the characters.
In most games, characters have one or more win quotes that they use indiscriminately, but sometimes special win quotes are used in special circumstances. For example, in The King of Fighters '94, each character has special win quotes against each of the 8 teams; in Street Fighter Alpha, players can choose one of four win quotes by holding certain button combinations after winning a battle; in Street Fighter III: Giant Attack, characters sometime use special win quotes if they finish the battle with a certain move; and in SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium, players can input their own win quotes in edit mode.
Some win quotes have characters break the fourth wall, such as Chun-Li's Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter win quote in which she suspects the game is set on the easiest difficulty setting; or are in-jokes referring to other video games, like Sakura's Street Fighter Alpha 3 win quote in which she says she prefers "street fighting to sparring in rival schools."
Wrapping
Camera wrapping is a technique often used in video games, which allows a player to move in a straight line and get back to where they started. This was more often used in older games to make it seem that the player is moving up or down an extremely high hill; memory can be saved by using wrapping instead of creating a larger area filled with unpassable walls. Wrapping is also used to make a 2D game world round; for example, in PacMan exiting the game screen to the right wraps the player to the same position on the left side of the screen. Similarly, in Final Fantasy VII, exiting the game map to the right wraps the player to the same position on the left side of the map, and exiting the map to the top wraps the player to the bottom of the map.
World
See Level

X[edit]

XP
Abbreviation of Experience Point

Y[edit]

YouTube Bait
Games that are made for an audience; games created with YouTubers and/or Twitch streamers in mind.

Z[edit]

Zero-day patch
A software patch that is set to be released on the day of the game's official release ("the 0th day"), reflecting updates and fixes that were added after the final release candidate was prepared.
Zero-player game
A game that has no sentient players. In video games, the term refers to programs that use artificial intelligence rather than human players.[51]
Zone
See Level

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