Unifying the critical terminology of video games. A glossary of common (and not-so-common) terms, with helpful examples. Please feel free to link to individual definitions or the ludoglossary as a whole from elsewhere; it exists to be used!
Talking about video games, it’s why we’re here. But it can be a little confusing. Everyone has their own idea of what certain words mean, much of our vocabulary for discussing games is directly cribbed from other mediums, like film and theatre, and a lot of the time there’s just no easy way to describe a phenomenon without wasting a few sentences (or paragraphs) making sure everyone is on the same page. Many of the words we use are too vague (“gameplay”) or ill-equipped for the specific complexities of interactive experience (“narrative”).
The ludoglossary is a way to get everyone on equal footing. It is a list, with definitions and examples, of the critical and analytical terms used in discussing video games. The glossary represents a consolidation of, and elaboration on, many existing terms utilised and coined by various games writers. It also includes terms which close a few gaps in the existing vocabulary, in the hopes that games writing can become less about products for sale, and more about the medium itself.
Games writing often falls into two extreme categories: enthusiast press–where basic overviews, personal experiences and simple descriptions are key–and academic writing. Our hope is that the ludoglossary will allow these two sides to (sometimes) meet in the happy middle. We’re also firmly of the belief that anyone can talk about games in an intelligent and interesting way, and this glossary is a gateway to that end.
And yes, it does have ludonarrative dissonance, the most used and abused term of them all.
The glossary is constantly evolving and growing to include new concepts. If you see something that needs to be added, or you find one of the existing terms needs some work, let us know!
Still to come:
- Genre definitions
- Design and development terms