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MMO Gaming Dictionary - General Terminology

by: Michael Hartman ; edited by: Michele McDonough ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

This section of the MMO Gaming dictionary is a catch all for general terms and everything that does not fit into the more specific categories. MMO terminology can be overwhelming to new fans. This dictionary is designed to help explain and define some of the more confusing terms and acronyms.

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    MMO Gaming Dictionary - General Terminology

    The MMO Gaming Dictionary is an ongoing project here at Bright Hub. It was originally begun on my blog, Muckbeast. It has been expanded here on Bright Hub and is updated periodically. This section of the dictionary covers general concepts as well as other acronyms and terms that do not fit in more specific categories.

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    Auction House through MMORPG

    AFK - Away From Keyboard. People will generally announce they are "afk" when they need to step away from the computer to take care of a personal matter of some type.

    Auction House (AH) - A place where goods can be sold between players through an NPC automated merchant / auction system.

    Bind on Equip (BoE) - This refers to items that "bind" to the first character to equip it or use it. Other games refer to this as the item being "attuned" or something similar. Once it has been equipped or used, it cannot be traded or given away.

    Bind on Pickup (BoP) - This refers to items that "bind" to the first character to pick it up. BoP items cannot be traded or given to any other player. Similar to BoE (Bind on Equip).

    Boss - Boss mobs are usually extra powerful beings that are very difficult to kill. Some boss mobs require 1 or more groups to take down. Bosses frequently appear in dungeons or instances, and they tend to have some of the better loot or rewards in an MMO.

    Crafting - Game systems that are designed around the creation of goods. Crafted items generally include things like weapons, armor, potions, enchantments, dyes, food, drink, and the like.

    Dungeon - A dungeon is a general term for a type of zone or area in a game that is self contained in some sort of structure. It might be a cavern complex, a fortress, a castle, or even an actual dungeon. The term is used in a manner that incorporates more than just "dungeons." Dungeon zones are frequently instanced (see below).

    Freemium - A term that is the combination of FREE + PREMIUM. Games of this type are free to play but provide premium services or content at an extra, optional fee.

    Grinding - Engaging in a repetitive activity to generate experience points, gold, or items in an efficient manner.

    Instance - Instancing is the concept of creating an entire copy of a zone or area that only a specific individual or group of individuals can access at a time. The instanced zone is private to that person or persons, and cannot be accessed by other random players. This is frequently done so the story or scripted events can unfold in a logical manner and not be interfered with by outside players.

    Mats - SEE: Materials.

    Materials - This term is frequently used when referring to the materials used in a crafting recipe. SEE ALSO: Resources.

    Microtransactions - This business model is commonly found in free to play games that offer additional goods or services that can be purchased for an additional fee. Generally, the customer purchases credits or units of token currency in large chunks which are then spent in smaller amounts on optional features, content, items, etc.

    MMO - MMO is short for Massively Multiplayer Online, which sounds like a strange term on its own. It is basically a shorter, easier to type, and much easier to say acronym than MMORPG.

    MMORPG - Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. This mouthful of a term was coined early in the MMO industry, and unfortunately it stuck. Many people have tried to come up with alternate terms that were less cumbersome, but the best we have come up with is MMO (See: MMO).

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    Mob through RMT

    Mob - This term is derived from the term "mobile" in DIKU MUDs. It is generally used now to refer to any NPC that you might choose to kill.

    Mount - Mounts are any type of creator or object that a player can ride to increase his or her transportation speed through the game.

    MUD - Originally this acronym stood for Multi User Dungeon, and later became Multi User Dimension. It is the general term for online, multiplayer games on the internet. The first MUD, MUD1, was created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw at Essex University, England around 1978. It is a dramatically superior term than MMORPG, but sadly we are stuck with MMORPG instead of MUD.

    Nerf - In the world of gaming, a nerf is a reduction in power, utility, or usefulness of a character class, race, realm, zone, item, etc. Nerfs are very controversial because people do not enjoy being nerfed. Unsurprisingly, people often enjoy seeing OTHER PEOPLE get nerfed… especially in PvP or conflict oriented games.

    NPC - Non-Player Character. This is the general term for monsters and other living beings that are controlled by the game itself rather than run by actual users/players. See: mob

    Permadeath - Permanent Death. If your character dies in a Permadeath game, you must create a new character. This is an extremely rare feature in the commercial MMO industry.

    Persistent Online World - (see: POW)

    Pet - A pet is some type of creature, machine, or other object that is in the player's command. It can be an actual summoned pet, something that is trained or captured, a machine that is constructed, or a variety of other similar things. Some pets are actually functional - they fight, gather loot, or perform other tasks. Other types of pets, often called "vanity pets", are simply cosmetic and follow the player around for fun.

    PK - See: Playerkilling.

    Playerkilling - This is a type of gameplay where players of the game engage in fighting against and killing other players. The increased challenge of going up against another player is what attracts people to this type of gameplay. Some games focus heavily on PK, whereas others forbid it completely.

    POW - Persistent Online World. This is a more accurate, but less popular, term for MUDs or MMORPGs. It sounds great, it implies action and excitement, and it is very easy to say. It also focuses on three of the most important elements of an online game: Persistence, the fact that it is Online, and the fact that it is more than just a game, it is a World.

    PvE - Player versus Environment. (Sometimes: PvM - Player vs. Monster). This is combat/content that puts the player against the game controlled environment, NPCs, monsters, etc.

    PvP - Player versus Player (See: Playerkilling)

    Resource - Most MMO crafting systems require that you first gather resources, and then turn those resources into finish products. These resources can be wood, ore, hides, or any manner of base materials (mats).

    RMT (Real Money Trade) - This is a category of online commerce that includes the buying and selling of game currency (gold, dil, influence, platinum, etc.), items, characters, powerlevelling services, etc. This is a highly controversial issue in the gaming world. Developers claim to be against it, and so do most players, and yet the market for RMT is over $1 billion USD worldwide.

    Roleplaying - Roleplaying or Role Playing is the act of getting into character and acting out a role. People who are roleplaying will generally not engage in any OOC (out of character) communication.

    RP - See: Roleplaying

    RvR - Realm vs. Realm. A type of PvP content where there are multiple Realms or Kingdoms that wage war against each other. Such wars are generally ongoing as they are part of a constant struggle in the game. Classic examples of this type of gameplay are Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online.

    Trade - Trade in MMOs is almost entirely between players. It involves the exchange of goods or services for other goods, services, or coinage. Some games make heavy use of trade between players, whereas in other games it is virtually non-existent.

    User Interface (UI) - The user interface is the screen and controls through which you control the game. Many MMOs allow user customized interfaces or at least have moveable interface elements.

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    Visit Our Blog and Add Your Own Terms

    The MMO Gaming Dictionary is a work in constant progress. We invite all of our readers to visit the blog post connected to this project and suggest other terms that should be included. Please visit the MMO Gaming Dictionary blog post.

    Thank you!

MMO Gaming Terminology

MMORPGs have a language all of their own. It is heavy on acronyms, backronyms, and other confusing terms. This series of articles is a handy reference that explains many MMO terms.
  1. MMO Gaming Dictionary - Combat Terminology
  2. MMO Gaming Dictionary - Character Terminology
  3. MMO Gaming Dictionary - General Terminology


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