46 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Video Game Vocabulary

mario, end of world 1-3

MMO and RTS and FPS, oh my! What is a platformer? Should my toddler play a sandbox game? We define a few common video game terms and abbreviations.

What we’ve been playing

T.I.M.E. Stories – We enjoyed this RPG, although we haven’t beaten the base game yet. We can understand why it tends to be a love-it-or-hate it game. There are currently 4 other stories available: The Marcy Case, A Prophecy of Dragons, Expedition: Endurance, and Under the Mask.

Anitra played as many games using Knot Dice as possible, in order to write this week’s review. There are co-operative and competitive puzzle games, pathfinding games, racing games, an abstract storytelling game, and even a semi-cooperative building game.

Box of Rocks – a silly and fun trivia game. The group competes against the box of rocks! It would make a great icebreaker.

Andrew beat Zelda: Breath of the Wild, to no one’s surprise.

Overcooked, the co-operative cooking game. Fun, high-adrenaline. You have to communicate with your co-players in order to complete orders through the challenging layouts, which makes it an excellent couch co-op.

Type: Rider, a beautiful and compelling platformer based on typography and fonts. We got it as one of the “free” PS Plus games for May, but it is available for under $5 on just about everything: Steam, iOS, Android, and PlayStation.

Our kids are still playing the ever-present Disney Infinity, and are branching out from the sandbox (“toy box”) mode to a few of the themed adventure options.

Video Game Terms

FPS (first person shooter): first person perspective, your only indication of the player is a gun or hands. Can lead to motion-sickness. Examples: Goldeneye, Wolfenstein 3D, Marathon.

TPS (third person shooter): third person perspective, showing the body (or at least the head) of the player character.

Platformer: basically Mario. Jump around, get to the end of the level. A recent example of 2D platformer: Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, or Type:Rider as previously mentioned.

Puzzle Platformer: Navigate in the same platforming way, but with puzzles you have to figure out to get through the level. There is a special sub-genre called “Metroidvania” (after the first 2 of this type, Metroid and Castlevania), where you re-tread the same ground several times, discovering new things as you gain power or weaponry.

Shmup (Shoot-em-up): a scrolling battlefield with limited movement; kill waves of enemies and receive power-ups to kill more enemies. Examples: Gradius, Ikaruga, Sine Mora, maybe Geometry Wars?

2D and 3D are self-explanatory, but there’s also 2.5D. This is a game that is primarily two-dimensional but still have a depth component.

Turn-based game: I take a turn, then you take a turn. Action pauses in some way between turns.

Synchronous gameplay: everyone playing at the same time. No pausing.

Asynchronous gameplay: players do not have to be online at the same time to play the game together. Turn-based games lend themselves to asynchronous play.

AAA game: the big name, big budget games, the ones that are heavily marketed and available in Target. Gears of War, Halo, Mario. Anitra saw this played out at Target recently – their Mario Kart marketing is on-point.

CMS (Construction and management simulation): Build stuff and make sure it doesn’t fail. Examples: SimCity and the rest of the Sim-whatever games, RollerCoaster Tycoon, FarmVille.

MMO, MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game): An online game with a persistent setting, allowing players to interact with the environment and with each other. Examples: World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest

MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena): also known as “action real-time strategy”. Teams work to destroy the enemy team’s base on a known playfield. Popularized the idea of e-sports because of the huge tournaments that can be held. Examples: League of Legends, DotA, Heroes of the Storm

MUD (Multi User Dungeon): text-based games that were mostly popular before MMOs. Andrew’s favorite was Gemstone. Different than the BBS games such as Legend of the Red Dragon.

Roguelike: a procedurally generated game that has permanent death.

PvP: Player versus Player.

PvE: Player versus Environment.

RTS: Real Time Strategy – not turn-based. Age of Empires, StarCraft, WarCraft, etc.

Sandbox game: a game with no goals, usually involving building and creation. Minecraft is popular for its sandbox mode, and it’s our kids favorite part of Disney Infinity. DinoTrucks may be our favorite example.


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