Respect the Ratings

Whether you're a gaming fan yourself or you simply want to understand more about the games that the children in your life are excited about, knowing how to "talk the talk" can really help you score some bonus points.

In the gaming world, platforms are the hardware on which the games are played. GameStop and EB Games specialize in games for consoles, handhelds, and PCs. You probably recognize the console systems by their brand names Nintendo®, PlayStation®, and Xbox®. These manufacturers also make many of the popular handheld devices including Sony PSP® as well as Nintendo Game Boy and DS™. And of course, there are plenty of games that can be played on your home PC. Remember, sometimes you'll find that games are only available for certain platforms, so be sure to read the package or online description closely.

Just like movies, music, and other popular media, there are so many kinds of video games that there truly is something for everyone. Knowing more about these categories can help parents and concerned adults protect younger players from overly mature content, while staying aware of what older children are playing.

Family - Easy-to-play games based upon popular board games or children's characters. Typically rated E for Everyone, or E10+ for Everyone 10+, they're a safe bet for younger players.

First Person Shooter (FPS) - A game where the player sees the action through the eyes of the main character. These types of games usually involve the heavy use of weapons to shoot and kill opponents.

Free-for-All (FFA) - A multiplayer environment where individual players compete against each other to score the most points in a given amount of time or reach another kind of predetermined goal.

Limited Player Online Game (LPOG) - An online game that sets a specific limit for the number of concurrent players.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) - Allows hundreds and thousands of users to play a game together online. These types of games tend to be mission and goal-oriented.

Massively Multiplayer Online Social Game (MMOSG) - This is like a MMORPG, only the focus is more on having fun than earning points.

Role-Playing Game (RPG) - In this world, the player controls a character or party of characters as they venture through a lengthy quest. During the game, these characters earn points for completing tasks and overcoming opponents, while become increasingly powerful.

Real-Time Strategy (RTS) - This kind of game takes players to the front lines, controlling an army by managing troops and creating battle plans in order to defeat other adversaries.

Simulation Games (Sims) - These games give players the chance to control or recreate a specific environment. Popular challenges include tackling flight simulators, creating sports teams, building cities, and even controlling simulated humans.

Third-Person Shooter (TPS) - A game where the action is viewed from outside or behind the main character. Similar to a first-person shooter, these games also feature the use of many weapons.

Zone - An online term listed next to a username to describes a player's style.

Gaming has a language all its own. Here are a few terms to help you "crack the code."

Achievements - Specific term for special goals that can be completed on Xbox Live-enabled games. Achievement points are awarded for completing these goals and count towards a gamers "Gamerscore."

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Technology that allows computer-controlled characters to think, move and act as if they are human.

Avatar - The character that an individual is playing online. In most games you can choose many aspects of your avatar's nature including appearance and skill level.

Backwards Compatible - When a game system can run games or use accessories created for an older system.

Bot - A robotic, computer-controlled opponent that usually possesses some degree of artificial intelligence.

Bug - A game error or glitch

Casual Game - An easy-to-learn game targeted at and/or played by people without extensive video game experience.

Cheat Code (Cheats) - Codes that change the way the game is played, giving the player special advantages.

Camping - When a player (camper) stays in one place to block or guard an important item or location.

Chat-Frag - Chatting online during first- or third-person shooter games. P.S.: It's considered uncouth to shoot others players while they're chatting.

Clan - A team of players who play together online, most often in first- and third-person shooters.

Debug - The phase of development where bugs and/or program glitches are found and fixed.

Easter Egg - Hidden items in games, often placed by creative developers, to amuse or reward players.

Experience Points (XPs) - Points earned during role-playing games that help characters gain new abilities and powers. Also known as leveling up.

Frag - Defeating an opponent in a first- or third-person shooter game.

Frame Rate - The number of individual image frames a game is capable of producing in a given amount of time. Usually measured in frames per second.

Gibs - The tiny little pieces of what is left of characters when they meet an unfortunate end.

Guild - A group of players who work as a team in a multiplayer environment to create an advantage or just to socialize.

Griefer - A player who taunts or heckles other players. Also known as a troll or lamer.

Hack - A code that allows a player to get past anti-cheating or security measures.

Hosed - When you're soundly defeated or embarrassed. Also know as pwned, schooled, or owned.

Kick - To remove a player from a server for submitting questionable content, cheating, or other unsportsmanlike behavior. This can be done by an administrator or by a vote of the other players.

Lag - When an online player's connection slows or gets hung up. Also known as packet-loss.

LAN - A gathering of gamers focused on playing networked, multiplayer games such as Half-Life or Halo.

Lamer - A player who taunts or heckles other players. Also known as a troll or griefer.

Leetspeak - The unique language that gamers use to communicate with one another.

Leveling Up - The process by which characters gain new abilities and powers in role-playing games. Also known as earning experience points (XPs).

Mashing - Pressing all the buttons on the keyboard or controller. This technique is most often applied by adults who are first-time players.

MMORPG, MMO - Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. Any game featuring a large number of players interacting in a persistent world through online communication with other players.

Mod - A downloadable application that modifies the content of a game. It's important to remember that mods are not reviewed by the ESRB, so adults should be sure to monitor this type of play.

Newbie, Noob - A novice player.

Owned - When you are soundly defeated or embarrassed. Also know as pwned, schooled, or housed.

Packet Loss - When an online player's connection slows or gets hung up. Also known as lag.

Patch - Common in multiplayer and online games, patches allow developers to change game play, modify scenery or add new challenges. Also known as a point release. Like mods, patches are not reviewed by the ESRB, so adults should be sure to monitor this type of play.

Platformer - A game focused on jumping or navigational challenges. Often include elements of action games. Examples include: Super Mario Bros., Psychonauts and Pitfall.

Power-Up - A feature that gives a character more strength, speed, or life force.

Pwned - When you're soundly defeated or embarrassed. Also know as owned, schooled, or housed.

Real-Time - A game in which action does not stop for the entry of commands.

Respawn - This is when a character that dies in a multiplayer game suddenly reappears. Many players count on this tactic as part of their strategy during these games.

RPG - Stands for a "Role Playing Game."

Sandbox Game - A game where you're free to explore anywhere you want, without being tied down by a plot or specific mission.

Schooled - When you're soundly defeated or embarrassed. Also know as owned, pwned, or housed.

Simulation (SIM) - A game whose sole or main purpose is to simulate real-world processes, often without a final goal or explicit purpose. Examples include: Sim City or The Sims.

Strategy Guide - A book or Web document that tells you all you need to know about a specific game. They're very useful when you're unable to get past a certain level.

Streaming - Content that is played in real-time.

Troll - A player who taunts or heckles other players. Also known as a griefer or lamer.

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