One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.

This week, an important word relating to gaming etiquette and a note about aggression.

What It Is: AFK – Away From Keyboard

What It Means: AFK is a short acronym used as a courtesy to indicate the player will be temporarily “Away From Keyboard” – typically to perform some short-duration task such as answering the phone or going to the loo. Players who remain AFK for unreasonable amounts of time are usually removed from the game, a process called “kicking.” AFK is a catch-all; players using controllers or joysticks will also claim to be “AFK” when taking a short break.

Why You Care: Arguments often arise between parents and young people when online etiquette and real-world etiquette collide. It is extremely rude for a player to abandon an online game without warning in the middle of play. Worse still, it is unsportsmanlike, because it leaves their team a player down and this is often the difference between winning and losing. “Going AFK, 2mins brb!” is announcing that some unavoidable real-world distraction has occurred and must be dealt with. It is both an apology for the intrusion and a promise to return as soon as possible. If your teen or child is being short, snappish and impatient with you, visibly keen to end the conversation as quickly as possible and get back to the computer/console, it could be that they are worried about being AFK for longer than is politely acceptable. Try not to surprise your child with chores or requests in the middle of a play session – wait until the round ends (rounds are typically no longer than a few minutes for the majority of online competitive games) before posing your question or request. As the game is in a natural pause, it is far easier for the player to politely inform their team that they are permanently leaving the game for the day and a replacement player should be drafted in. In addition, the player will be far less prone to an irritable response to their real-world distractor. Online play is fast, frantic and highly charged, so distracting a player when they are “in the zone” will almost always make them cross-tempered and aggressive  – it is not the game creating an aggressive response, but the act of being distracted whilst in a state of high concentration. Interrupt a knitter reverently counting stitches or a golfer mid-swing, and you’ll see a very similar response!

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