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Spamming, in the context of video games, refers to the repeated use of the same item or action. For example, "grenade spamming" is the act of a player throwing a large number of grenades in succession into an area. In fighting games, one form of spamming would be to execute the same offensive maneuver so many times in succession that one's opponent does not receive a chance to escape the series of blows.
Types of spam
Chat spamming is the repetition of a word or line typed out by a player using a game's chat system. Most games have some form of text messaging built for in-game communication, there is little to stop a frustrated player from flooding a server with text in the same way a user can flood a chat room. Some servers enforce rules regarding spamming, possibly resulting in players being kicked or banned. Some games allow text to be turned off or mute the player after a limited number of messages at the same time, hence nullifying this form of spamming. People usually "Copy and Paste" or use spambots.
Grenade spamming or 'nade spamming involves throwing multiple grenades into an area. Grenade spamming can have two distinct subgenres. The first occurs when a single player will repeatedly acquire grenades (usually with the assistance of hotkeys) and throw them without moving. The second version involves a player or group of players all throwing large numbers of grenades into an area. Grenade spamming has the effect of real-life artillery barrages, suppressing an area of the map and killing any characters caught within the spammed zone. When multiple players spam the same area, it is near-impossible for the opposing players to avoid having their avatars wounded or killed, and this effectively denies that area to enemies.
In objective-based, or flag capture games like Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory or Battlefield 4, Battlefield 3, grenade spamming is also used to keep the enemy from passing through a needed passage, or to spam the objective itself while allies perform a flank attack on the pinned opponents. This presents some problems in team-based attack-and-defense maps, where the defending team may have a (deliberately designed) strong defensive position from which to spam. In Starsiege: Tribes, a group of dedicated mortar spammers can confine an entire team within an enclosed area (such as their own base) indefinitely. Usually, victimized players will simply quit the server when this happens. Spamming grenades in Tremulous often has significant consequences such as obliterating the player's own base if friendly fire is allowed, and if done repetitively the user may get banned.
In addition to throwing fragmentation or explosive grenades, players can also spam smoke grenades, which obscures or completely eliminates vision and often lags the server.
Grenade spamming is often criticized as requiring little to no skill and often seen as "unfair" by some players, as it does not put the player in direct conflict. Some see spamming as a valid tactic that prevents the opposition grouping together or camping and that it is reasonable for more grenades to have a greater chance of eliminating opponents than just using one. Nonetheless, the tactic is a highly effective one, and recommended by some developers, such as Infinity Ward in their game Call of Duty 2.
A variation of grenade spamming is noob tubing, the act of simply having a grenade or rocket launcher equipped (more commonly grenade launcher) and simply shooting in the general direction of your foe in hopes the splash damage will kill or injure them.
Apart from grenades, "spam" can also describe spray and pray tactics with firearms. In its most general definition, weapon spamming involves using a large amount of ammunition irrespective of having any visible targets. While rapid automatic fire is often desirable against multiple targets or for suppression purposes, many gaming communities will frown on the reliance on automatic fire.
The issue is most evident in games with light, fast automatic weapons and plenty of ammunition, such as light machine guns, allowing players to run around maps with the trigger held down and usually being able to score many points before being killed. While this style of gameplay often exposes players to direct conflict, as the style is largely based on luck, players relying solely on spam tactics are often looked down upon for their apparent lack of skill. However, some differentiation is made between weapon spamming against invisible targets (identified by sound, for example) and simple blind firing with the hopes of randomly hitting a target.
Nonetheless, spamming is seen as an important skill to possess even in competitive gaming circles, and some weapons are designed for the sole purpose of sustained rapid fire. Some games provide weapon feedback (making the gun rise) or decrease the shot accuracy for each bullet in a burst, hence encouraging controlled fire. Limiting ammunition availability, or keeping the maximum amount a player can hold low, also encourages controlled firing. Similarly in Team Fortress 2, the Heavy Weapons Guy class has a very large, extremely high rate of fire minigun which is principally useful for suppressing enemies as well as killing careless players in large numbers, encouraging caution rather than recklessness around him. The weapon also holds an extremely large number of bullets and never requires reloading; however, it is highly inaccurate over long range, and firing it prevents the Heavy from quick movement, rendering him virtually stationary during sustained fire. According to developers at Valve, the weapon was intended to allow players without twitch-firing skills to engage in heavy firefights by developing a different combat skill-set based around predicting the start of combat and thus being in a defensive position and having the weapon ready in advance of enemies' arrival.
Spamming certain weapons that require a large amount of game data to use or deploy, such as smoke grenades, is known to cause lag, mainly because the computer cannot easily render the effects. This can often be a problem, especially in a multiplayer setting. Many players look down on intentionally spamming data-intensive weapons with the goal of causing an unfair advantage. Similarly, weapon spamming can be used in games such as Counter Strike for the purposes of limiting the ability of opponents to hear anything other than the weapon being fired.
Move spamming in fighting games is very prevalent and its use is just as controversial as other forms of spamming. Move spamming involves using the same move or set of moves repeatedly. Usually these moves have high damage and/or speed, and can be difficult to block. They allow a player to inflict high damage with little effort, and prevent the opponent from getting into a good footing to attack.
Like other forms of spamming, many players complain that it is unfair and diminishes the skill of the game, but experienced players will frequently use spamming to force their opponents into a different fighting style or a compromising position. The downside to move spamming is that it frequently leaves the player open to attack if they are not careful of when they spam a move. Frequent spamming of particular moves can also make a player very predictable, making the likelihood of an opponent falling victim to a spam move very low. Many games attempt to reduce move spamming by having long recovery times at the end of highly effective moves, giving characters effective counters to break spamming, as well as the damage of a move gradually lowering as it is used repeatedly.
Many fighting games have moves that are easily spammed or are purposefully created to be spammed. Some moves have an "infinite" capability, where the move will continue to execute without stopping as long as the player is pressing the right button(s). The Super Smash Bros. series, for example, has multiple characters with the ability to enter an infinite move by rapidly tapping the A button. The character will then stand in place and begin a rapid flurry of attacks which only ceases if the player stops pressing the button. Since the attacker is stationary, the victim can simply move away from this attack. As such, infinite moves are frequently used when the victim is backed up against a wall to prevent their escape. Other moves can be chained into themselves, meaning that a move can be executed many times in a row without giving the opponent any time to react between hits. Many fighting games have moves like this, especially throws that allow a player to throw their opponent on the ground or against a wall, leaving them open to another throw before they can get to their feet.
One form of spam which is regarded as reprehensible by the gaming community as a whole is spawn spamming (more commonly known as spawn killing or more vulgarly baserape) (see spawn camping). As the name implies, this involves spamming an enemy's spawn point with weapon fire in an effort to kill the enemy as they spawn. Many games include some kind of spawn protection which prevents players being injured for a few seconds after spawning. Spawn points may be spammed using grenades, proximity mines, bullets, or other weaponry.
In some sandbox-style open ended video games, players may spawn props, NPCs or other items. This is prevalent in the Half-Life 2 modification Garry's Mod, where it is possible to spawn numerous quantities of large, complex, or explosive items in order to crash the server. This is also common amongst Griefers in Second Life, who spam sandboxes (areas which allow anyone to spawn custom scripted items) with the intent of either slowing the FPS for other players, or crashing the server altogether.
In role-playing video games spam usually takes the form of repeated use of one powerful or low-cost skill or spell. Buff, debuff, and condition spamming has the goal of making the player or his allies invulnerable, or the enemy too weak to react. More common is direct-damage spamming, where a single attack or spell, which has a low casting-cost and recharge time, is used continuously. One notable example is the spell 'Charged Bolt' in Diablo II. Its instantaneous cast and low cost allowed high level mages to cast the spell as quickly as they could press the casting key, dealing large amounts of damage in the process. Players can also spam high-end powerful skills, such as the 'Apocalypse' spell in Diablo or the Moonfire spell available to druids in World Of Warcraft, which can be spammed to do high amounts of damage in a short period of time. Most games place heavy restrictions on the most powerful skills to prevent this kind of spamming, however, and it is often only possible through the use of cheats.
There is significant overlap with skill spamming and the skill training in some MMORPGs which require a skill to be used to improve it. A player which uses the same skill over and over for this purpose is also said to be skill spamming. This is generally less frowned upon unless done in a highly populated area of the game where the accompanying graphical or sound effects will cause annoyance to others.