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.

What is XP what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: XP = Experience Point(s)

What It Means: Exp or XP is a numerical way of totting up the player’s progress through a game. XP serves as a record of how far the player has come through the game. XP usually is accumulated by completing puzzles or defeating enemies, with many games unlocking new levels, abilities or gameplay modes as rewards for certain quantities of accumulated XP. The methodology for counting the quantity of XP the player has gained varies from game to game, with some games using complex algorithms which allow for multiple mediating factors, whilst others simply convert the health points of downed enemies directly in XP, add one XP for every enemy killed, or other alternative methods of counting. Harder enemies or puzzles will usually reward players with higher quantities of XP, so players will often “grind” by repeatedly completing smaller, easier tasks for a steady stream of XP, as well as chasing the more challenging, risky-but-rewarding goals.

Why You Care: Games in genres that count XP will normally use the XP number to determine the player’s character’s level, with enemy difficulty and rarity of rewards sometimes scaling to match that number as the player gains mastery, either automatically and dynamically, or in response to the player cashing in their XP, or in stages. Numerous games will wipe out much or all of the XP the player has accumulated if they die or fail tasks in the game before being able to bank it. This can give rise to the “Stress Response” many parents see in their children when they interrupt them whilst gaming, which is often misunderstood as aggression rather than frustration. Players will lose large quantities of progress, or even unique digital rewards, if they fail a task, such as by dying or by running out of time, and thus their tolerance for having their focus interrupted during these moments is very low. Watch the screen; the XP bar is usually clearly labelled, and ask your children to pause the game so that they may give you their full attention whilst you are speaking. Games may offer special time-limited events, such as a “Double XP Weekend” in order to entice players to return to the game and play for longer.

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