Understanding PC Games: Acronyms

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One of the perennial problems of videogames journalism is the jargon. Too quickly people become used to an abbreviation that makes sense to them, but can leave others in the dark. In response to this, Rock, Paper, Shotgun proffers its thirty-eighth entry in a four hundred and seventeen part guide to Understanding PC Games.

FOV: Field Of View
As anyone who has played RTS games will know (see RTS), such games tend to contain a “fog of war”. As over 90% of RTS games take place in large, boring fields, these ridiculous games attempt to disguise this by hiding them in smog. The small area you’re allowed to see at any one time is known as the Field Of View.

FPS: First Person Shooter.
There is a lot of controversy over the true definition of this term, with gamers divided into two camps. There are those, generally thought of as fundamentalist gamers, who ardently believe that the First Person Shooter depicted Adam, in the Garden of Eden, slaughtering the local fauna as he named them, 6,000 years ago.

43“KAPOWETH!” shouted Adam. “You shall be named a deer.” 44“BLAMMO!” he crieth to the Lord. “From now thou shalt be known as a panda.” – SegaGenesis 1:43-44

Others vociferously dispute this, saying that all scientific evidence suggests the First Person Shooter was a proto-shooter, not immediately recognisable as a part of the genre today, that was then developed over millions of years. Those who suggest that FPS (see FPS) can also stand for “Frames Per Second” are liars.

HUD: Heads Up Display
One of FPS (see FPS) gaming’s greatest achievements over the last decade has been to increasingly complicate the amount of information shown on screen at any one time. The idea, to put it in layman’s terms, is to distract the player from the action in the bulk of the screen. Ideally this should involve needlessly cropping up to half of the available space with the inside of a helmet, and some animated details that constantly snag the attention of your eye.

MMO: Massively Multiplayer Online

MMOG: Massively Multiplayer Online Game

MMORPG: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

MMOGIRPGE: Massively Multiplayer Online Game Incorporating Role Playing Game Elements

MMOGIRPGEAITFRTSG(SRTS): Massively Multiplayer Online Game Incorporating Role Playing Game Elements And Ideas Taken From Real Time Strategy Games (See RTS)

RPG: Role Playing Game
This is, as the title suggests, a game in which you play a role. Although it’s not as broad as you might immediately think. While many games ask you to play a role, the only ones that earn this title are those that ask you to play a role that would socially ostracise you if other people found out.

RTS: Real-Time Strategy
There was serious concern among strategy gamers that TBS (see TBS) that while their games were required to be mind-numbingly boring, too many players were dying of lethargy or old age during play. In response to this, the RTS was created, resulting in an all new hectic pace for strategists. Based on its name, the games take place in a realistic time, with merely up to fifty or sixty years between major conflicts for players to engage in.

TBS: Turn-Based Strategy
Like an RTS (see RTS), but played by ancient giants who sleep for thousands of years between gos.

TPS: Third Person Shooter
Such was the ego of shooter developers that they began to refer to not only themselves, but also their games, in the third person. “Quake II is very pleased to be so good,” said the opening message of Carmack’s brown-tinged classic. “Quake II is glad you have bought Quake II, and looks forward to allowing you to shoot Quake II’s creatures.” Very embarrassing for all involved.


  1. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Nice Stuff here, will there be a hardcover release? (Time to think about “Why aren’t we rich?”)

  2. damn lightning says:

    I vote we seriously adopt that definition for RPG.

  3. Rei Onryou says:

    I have to say, I’ve always been a fan of those MMOGIRPGEAITFRTSG.

  4. DosFreak says:

    Here’s some actual PC Games Acronymns:

    link to vogons.zetafleet.com

  5. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    I’m sure this is against the law, somewhere.

  6. VPeric says:

    Actually, when I think of FOV, I think of the FPS field of vision concept, as seen in, for example, This – Ed. Most open source shooters I’ve played allow for easy changing of FOV, because a higher FOV is a genuine advantage, provided you can stomach it.

    Then again, maybe the whole dictionary thing is a bit more tongue-in-cheek than I gathered at first glance.

  7. Jonas says:

    I think your TPS definition is a terrible mixed opportunity to turn Meer’s “like-an-FPS-but-with-more-shoulder” into an official RPS in-joke.

  8. Meat Circus says:


    None of the above are acronyms. HTH. Except, maybe, HUD.

  9. John Walker says:

    Ha ha! You made a grammatical correction but missed out an entire word!

    Argument lost. And that means acronym has changed meaning.

  10. Saflo says:

    Quake 1 was the brown-tinged classic. Quake 2 was more of a red/green affair, no? Let’s discuss.

  11. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    … Looks like Walker’s racking up the points. Aim for the combo finisher, John!

  12. subedii says:

    DPS: Damage Per Second: A statistical term used in reference to any games with a measurable damage statistic (RPG, RTS, FPS). Used by people who are far more hardcore than you and have elevated discussion of a game’s mechanics to the kind of obsessive minutiae that you should never, ever, approach if you appreciate leaving your basement and not having a negative reaction to sunlight.

  13. Dangerdad says:

    Yep, VPeric you’re right. I’ve never heard FOV used to mean the cleared fog of war. It’s a property of optics and is simulated in games.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

  14. sinister agent says:

    “Saddened, I Go Home.”

  15. Pox says:

    You better listen to those guys, John. They know what they’re talking about. You can’t go putting an incorrect definition of FOV amongst the truthful tidbits that make up the rest of that post.
    Good read.

  16. Chris R says:

    lol, FOV as defined here is meant to be SATIRICAL. FIELD of view… get it? EHHH??

    Pssst…. now’s the part where you laugh, hold your sides, and slap your knees.

  17. John Walker says:

    No, I’m quite certain my definition of FOV is as accurate as every other entry here. I did thorough research for this piece, which is a culmination of my life’s works. I can only think someone has maliciously changed the Wikipedia entry, perhaps to discredit me. I’ll catch the blaggard.

  18. Noc says:

    I think I’m going to use this definition the next time the “What makes something an RPG” question comes up.

    I can’t see how this could possibly be anything but helpful.

  19. Rosti says:

    What? Jokes?

    –> Also, more of this sort of thing. RPS’ commitment to public information is a shining example to a bereft internet. Oh yes it is.

  20. Dangerdad says:

    …forehead smack….

    I got whooshed. That’s what I get for reading the first entry quickly. My humble apologies.

  21. Dangerdad says:

    Indeed, I can now admit that I was part of the conspiracy. I hope I can be forgiven.

  22. RichPowers says:

    PC Gamer: Many erroneously attribute PC to “personal computer”; it actually stands for “pirating cunt.”

    The Gamer’s Dictionary by Clifford Bleszinski

  23. Xilnold says:


    Oh, it’s my go? Uh… Crap. Can I just go back to sleep?

  24. Dinger says:

    awesome. Articles like this leave me with wonder.
    I always thought a Third Person shooter was a modern reinterpretation of the Cain and Abel story with guns. In that case, it’s blatant sexism, if not gynophobia, that the industry still hasn’t released a Second Person Shooter (although it’s come close with Biblefight.

    But now that I think about it, wouldn’t a *Second Person Shooter be a game where the player looks at the gun-wielding protagonist and gets shot all the time? Maybe there’s a screen-mounted USB gun that fires a bullet to the player’s head?

  25. InVinoVeritas says:

    I laughed out loud multiple times when reading this article. This led to me reading the hilarious parts out loud to my wife, which then led to her giving me that “look”. Way to go RPS, any last vestiges of non-gamerness that my wife thought I had are now gone…

  26. Thiefsie says:

    you forgot QTE

  27. OIdahad says:

    And RTT.

  28. Greyface says:

    Also, I think that while “WTF” is phrase observable outside PC gaming, it may useful to note that “WTF” followed by, “Seriously, it’s my (insert hardware that is a non-issue in console gaming) or I woulda pwned (see clueless latecomers to a never cool subculture) your ass!” is a phrase unique and cherished in PC gaming.

    Example: “WTF! Seriously, it’s totally my graphics card, it’s last year’s model; you’re lucky, or I woulda pwned your ass!” The aforementioned is best used during rounds in which hardware means nothing… like RISK online.

  29. Kavika says:

    ‘wouldn’t a *Second Person Shooter be a game where the player looks at the gun-wielding protagonist and gets shot all the time?’

    Not so sure about that. I’ve been deathmatching for years, and you’ve described the experience perfectly.

  30. caramelcarrot says:

    I think we need a second person shooter told entirely through the eyes of henchmen that the hero kills.

  31. Gap Gen says:

    Hooray for RPGs.

  32. Dinger says:

    caramelcarrot — I think we may be on to something. We could finally explore the other side of the monster closet. You’d get an inside look at the workings of the bad-guy society. The goal, I suppose, would be to go about doing your tasks that would only serve to delay and frustrate the hero (at the early levels, that would involve having him swear and trudge off for healthkits, which would probably be very satisfying; at the later levels, conducting abhorrent torture-experiments that would slow his progress, all the while hearing comms, then sounds of the hero plowing through the defenses).

    It would kinda be like a fun version of Evil Genius, if it were an SPS.

  33. Bobsy says:

    Yes indeed: Quake 1 was brown, Quake 2 was grey, Quake 3 was red and Quake 4 was so bloody multicoloured it was way too busy to tell what was going on.

  34. mister slim says:

    Hmm, for second person perspective you could do Resident Evil from the viewpoint of the zombies. That would even make the camera better.

  35. Dante says:

    Dinger, that wouldn’t be second person, that would simply be playing as a henchmen. Second person is where you control the hero, but look through the eyes of the villian.

    There is a boss fight in Pyschonauts that takes place in second person, inside the head of the conspiracy theorist.

  36. James Lyon says:

    Professor Game and Doctor Watch would be proud.

  37. Duoae says:

    You forgot DPS: Damage Per Shot which is derived from the development side of the FPS but, due to a small clerical error during staff turnaround, ended up being misplaced and later found in aRPGs (See aRPG) and MMORPGs and incorrectly linked to the fourth dimension (time).

    aRPGs: action RPG (see RPG) – like the transition from turn-based to real time events in RTS games, action RPGs also tried to simulate the gruelling effects of real battle. Wear and tear on a keyboard’s ctrl, Z and shift keys (along with the left mouse button) increased to signify the degradation of weapons along with the discovery and application of carpal tunnel syndrome to simulate real wounds. Action RPGs tend to be isometric – which means that all measurements are equal. aRPG players are currently at war with the RPG players – who themselves are split between an East/West divide. The origin of the war is unknown.
    NOT to be confused with LARP (see LARP)

  38. SPEEDCORE says:

    The power of the internets!

  39. Gap Gen says:

    Martin: That is genius.

  40. Ginger Yellow says:

    ““KAPOWETH!” shouted Adam. “You shall be named a deer.” 44“BLAMMO!” he crieth to the Lord. “From now thou shalt be known as a panda.” ”

    That has to be the least convincing fake King James Bible English I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot.

    “The aforementioned is best used during rounds in which hardware means nothing… like RISK online.”

    On the contrary: those with CUDA enabled graphics cards have an edge in simulated dice rolls.

  41. clovus says:

    I can only think someone has maliciously changed the Wikipedia entry

    I hate it when that happens. And there is NO way to confirm if the page was changed or who changed it!!!!

    Isn’t advent, and all other text adventures, in the second person? You are in a dark corridor. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

  42. KingMob says:

    This was hilarious. Some of John’s best work – I’d love to read an extended entry later.

  43. Vanderdecken says:

    “While many games ask you to play a role, the only ones that earn this title are those that ask you to play a role that would socially ostracise you if other people found out.”

    Oh _WIN_!

    Very nice Nhoj. Did you think of this after the Showdown? More plspls, extended version.


    PC Gamer: Many erroneously attribute PC to “personal computer”; it actually stands for “pirating cunt.”

    The Gamer’s Dictionary by Clifford Bleszinski

    I roffled for several minutes, my parents ventured into my dungeon to enquire. You are a master sir, I salute you. Featured comment.

    @clovus: There is to both, it’s called the History tab. link to en.wikipedia.org

  44. moonracer says:

    I think I’d really like a zombie shooter in which the camera is from a random nearby zombie view. If you shoot it the camera switches to another zombie view. The disorientation would counter the slow, shambling of your enemies.

    Also, The FOV issue could be fixed with multiple definitions. Although I thought FOW or Fog of War was the commonly used term.

  45. clovus says:


  46. John Walker says:

    Ginger Yellow – I’m familiar with the ghastly KJV. I find it much funnier to be as awful as possible when abusing 16th C English.