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Jargon: Battling through the boss levels of esports jargon

Welcome to another episode of Jargon, the show from Digital Trends that deciphers the complex terminiology of various industries into words and concepts the rest of us understand. We’re live each week on Tuesdays with a fresh set of jargon from a different industry.

On this episode, host Myq Kaplan sits down with Marcus “djWheat” Graham, director of creator development for Twitch, to button-mash their way through the complicated jargon of esports. Join Kaplan as he moves up from NPC (non-playable character) status to an elite player, at least when it comes to defining the acronym-heavy world of esports. As esports continues to become its own entertainment giant, we take a closer look at some of the words that make up this industry.

Jargon discussed on this episode:

• MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) – MOBA encompasses such titles as League of Legends, DOTA, and some mobile games. MOBA games are games in which a player controls a single character as part of a team that competes against another team of players.

• FPS (first-person shooter) – First-person shooters such as Counter-Strike, Quake, and Call of Duty are games centered on weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist.

• Battle Royale – Battle Royale games such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are multiplayer games that blend the survival, exploration, and scavenging elements of a survival game with last-man-standing gameplay. In other words, everyone battles until one player is left.

• PvP (player vs. player) –  Graham admits a bit of bias when comparing PvP (player vs player) and PvE (player vs environment) games. “In a PvE game, you fight something within the game that allows you to level up, or to get a certain item,” Graham says. “PvP is you battling another human. It truly showcases the skills of the player. PvPs have driven so much of the gaming industry. It’s what gives games a lot of life, because it’s never the same game twice.”

• KDA (Kill, Death, Assist ratio) – KDA stands for Kills/Deaths/Assists, andis  a way to measure how much a player has achieved in one game. While Graham notes that KDA “is really inside baseball,” it’s a helpful tool to evaluate your play, as well as a team’s play.

• RNG – RNG, or “Random Number Generator,” is a term where the results of a play in the game are determined by luck. Many rol- playing games involve rolling dice (or equivalent) to determine what the player receives, sort of like when you draw in poker.

•Nerf vs. Buff – These terms are used in the context of playable characters in a game. If a developer determines that a character has become too powerful, that character will get “nerfed,” which means some of the power will be reduced in order to maintain fairness within the game. On the other side of the spectrum is “buff,” which is when a character or its traits need to be more powerful within the game, and is adjusted accordingly.

On next week’s episode, we’re putting our stylus to the Wacom tablet and tackling the jargon of digital art.

For past episodes of Jargon, go to


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