Note: This page will be constantly updated over time with more and more terminology.

This page is a collection of some of the common terminology you’ll find in the game development industry. It is written to act as a dictionary to help give detailed definitions to words and phrases you might hear in your day to day adventures in the industry.

Dictionary

A

AA (Double A)
An unofficial name given to studios, publishers or developers that are larger than the Indie offerings but don’t quite fit the criteria for AAA.

Example: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fall Guys are seen by most to be AA.

AAA (Triple A)
Triple A is term given to games, game studios or publishers who release games that require large budgets (and usually large marketing budgets) to create and release.

Example: Halo Infinite and Call of Duty are classed as AAA, Inscryption and Super Meat Boy are not.

Abandonware
Games that are no longer sold or supported by whomever owns the rights to the title. It is a common misconception that Abandonware titles are in the Public Domain or are Copyright Free - this is incorrect in most cases but usually it does not make financial sense for a company to chase copyright infringement of Abandonware titles due to to their lack of commerical value.

Example: The Oregon Trail (1971) is classed as Abandonware.

Artifical Intelligence (A.I)
A.I in video-games means the fake brain the computer uses to make non playable characters act and react to certain conditions in video-games. This can be something as simple as a character that moves to a location (pathfinding) to a highly reactive enemy character that can anticipate the player’s next move and act accordingly.

B

Bullets-To-Kill (BTK)
Refers to the amount of bullets required to kill an opoonent. Usually used in reference to shooters.

C

Central Processing Unit (CPU)
A component that acts as the brain of a computer or console.
A name historically given to an AI character, usually in competitive or co-operative modes, to distingish them from a real player in situations where they are intended to act like a real player.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A collection of servers in multiple locations used for fast servicing of data. Sometimes the term is misused in reference to any external content storage platform (Google Drive .etc).

D

Denial Of Service Attack (DoS)
A malicious attempt to slow down or terminate connections of servers by flooding the target with requests and/or junk data.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
Refers to copy protection, usually software-based but historically has been hardware based - tools utilized to stop people illegally sharing games.
Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)
Similar to Denial of Service, Distributed Denial of Service attacks are a DoS attack using multiple endpoints to send the requests and/or junk data.
DRM-Free
Term used to refer to a product that does not have DRM (See: DRM).

E

F

Free To Play (F2P)
A game that does not require an upfront payment to play.
Example: Fortnite and Genshin Impact are popular Free to Play games
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
An internet protocol used for transfering files between computers. Sometimes used as slang for “Send me this file directly”.
Example: “Can you FTP me the previous build?”

G

Game Design Document (GDD)
A highly detailed, descriptive document that acts as the central hub for the design of a project.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Component within a computer or console that focuses on handling graphics and rendering.

H

I

Indie (Independent)
This has changed in meaning from the past; it used to mean indepedent but now means a game developer (or studio) that creates games with either no publisher or a small-mid sized publisher.

Example: Stardew Valley and Celeste are classed as Indie, Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring are not.

J

Jira
A popular project management tool usually used for sprints and issue tracking. Studios that use Jira usually also use Confluence. This term is sometimes confused with “Projet management tool” due to its overwhelming use in studios across the industry.

K

Kill-Death Ratio (KD) / Kill-Death-Assists (KDA)
A number generated from kills divided by deaths, usually used in shooter games. In some titles, such as League of Legends and Halo Infinite, assists (helping another player kill someone without firing the killing blow yourself) are also counted (KDA). Note that some games count how much an assist is worth differently (Halo Infinite counts an assist as 0.333 when a kill is worth 1).
Example for KD: 10 kills and 5 deaths is a 2.0 KD [Kills / Deaths]
Example for KDA: 10 kills, 5 deaths and 5 Assists is a 3.0 KDA [(Kills + Assists) / Deaths]

L

Level Of Detail (LOD)
This is the system where the further an object is from the camera, the less detail is rendered. The closer an object is, the more detail is rendered on the object.

M

Mixed Reality (MR)
A combination of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality with the aim of offering experiences that use interactions in both the physical and virtual worlds.
A term used when describing both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in the same context.

N

Non-Playable Character (NPC)
Similar to other terms for AI controlled characters in a game but tends to refer to static characters that offer story progression or for A.I that is noticibly more dumber than a real player.

O

P

Pay To Win (P2W)
A game that does not require an upfront payment to play but there are items you can purchase that make you better than other players (and make it easier for you to win).
Example: APB Reloaded was considered to be a Pay-To-Win Game
Pathfinding
This is the name given to a system that allows an AI controlled character or object to find a path to a location within the game world. Normally, a starting point and destination are fed into pathfinding systems and other variables are then layered on top to find the clearest logical path for the AI controlled entity to take.
Physically Based Rendering (PBR)
A rendering method that aims to render realistic game worlds by using realistic lighting and surface models.
Playtest
Usually an internal event where some (or all) of the team play a build of the game to check for quality, bugs, test a new feature or to get a “feel” for how the game is currently playing.

Q

Quality Assurance (QA)
A part of a game development team that regularly checks builds for bugs and problems.

R

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
RDP is a protocol for dialing into a computer and controlling it remotely. The term is generally used loosely for anytime you remote into a machine (such as with Parsec, Chrome Remote Desktop, Remote Desktop Connection) .etc.
Example: “I’m working from home today so I’ll RDP for the playtest”

S

T

Technical Design Document (TDD)
A document that acts as a blueprint for the software engineers and details requirements, core features and how they should be implemented as well as the tools required to make said features work. This document normally includes answers to questions such as what game engine is going to be used alongside high level diagrams of feature implementations and how the project is going to utilize the technologies of the target platforms. Not to be confused with a Game Design Document (GDD).
Telemetry
A system that collects data and sends it back to the server at specific intervals (or events). Usually used for collecting statistics of player behaviour.
Time-To-Kill (TTK)
Refers to the time it takes for a specific item to kill an opoonent. Usually used in reference to shooters.
Turing Test
Test to see if an A.I can fool someone into thinking it is a real player.

U

User Experience (UX)
Commonly confused with UI (User Interface), User Experience is all about the experience for the end user. This is the bridge between Game Design and the player, ensuring that the experience “feels good” for the player.
User Interface (UI)
A discipline focused on how the end user interfaces with the in-game menus and HUD (Heads-Up Display)
A term given to the collection of menus and visual components that allow the user to interact with the game.
Example: Title Screens, Main Menus, player Health Bars are all examples of UI.

V

W

X

Y

Z