Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Escort Mission

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 is our final WWK for 2016. We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

What is an escort mission, what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Escort Mission = Despite its alarming name, an escort mission is simply the generic name for a quest, challenge or mission in which the player must escort a player from point A to point B on the game map. Despite being a standard of game design in many genres, escort missions are almost universally unpopular!

Why You Care: Escort missions are the bane of many players lives! The accompanying character is often defenceless or slow-moving, making them vulnerable to attacks. Some escort characters require the player’s character to carry or support them, making the player themselves vulnerable to attack. Some escort characters are invulnerable, causing a huge headache for the player who suddenly has many assailants to fight without assistance. Escort characters may be programmed to be more aggressive, inquisitive, exploratory or timid than the player’s own preferred play style, causing a conflict which can drive even the most even-tempered player to absolute distraction. Some escort missions require the player to stay hidden, yet the escorting character attracts attention at every turn, or require the two to stay within close proximity, which is challenging when the escorted party insists on forging ahead into dangerous territory. In some story-heavy games, escort missions are a slightly awkward way of shoe-horning exposition into the game, and players will become bored and irritable as they are forced to tail a chatty character around the game listening to them waffle on! Whatever kind of escort mission the resident gamer in your house is currently enduring, expect a great deal of bad language and controller throwing. Proffer biscuits and retreat to a safe distance.

 

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Demo

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 a demo what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Demo = Demonstration version.

What It Means: A scaled down version of a game, eg the first few levels, offered for free to allow players to try the game out and decide if it’s for them. This term applies primarily to the PC and console markets. Popular in the 90s and 00s, demo versions are not as commonplace as they once were.

Why You Care: Demo versions allow players to get a taste of a game and see whether they enjoy it before committing to a full purchase. For console games, which may RRP at around £40-60, this makes financial sense and can reduce or resolve family tensions over game purchases.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: DRM

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 DRM what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: DRM = A copyright protection system for digital media, including games, films and music.

Why You Care: DRM is a catch-all term for any number of anti-theft technologies that prevent players from making copies of games they own. DRM is a thorny topic in video-game communities. Though it is ostensibly intended to prevent piracy, DRM attempts are often implicated in game-breaking bugs, and there have been a number of scandals in which DRM technology is used to implement planned obsolescence, to selectively “curate” player communities, or to install spyware onto player computers for “research”/corporate espionage. Thus there are many factions in the debate over DRM, including both camps who object to any kind of DRM on idealogical grounds, and those who agree with the spirit of DRM as a measure to protect the livelihood of games creators, but are wary of its misuse. Intrusive DRM often cited as a reason for pirating games, with a significant number of players going so far as to legally purchase a game, then download a hacked “DRM-free” copy instead of their actual purchase. “DRM-free” is a selling point for many players, who will actively seek out marketplaces which offer legitimate DRM-free versions of games and boycott companies or services that have persistently been implicated in DRM related scandals.

Words Worth Knowing

New Entries: Slither.io

We see a lot of iterations on the classic game of Snake pass through the GameHub offices and we are pretty OK with that, because Snake is a good title for families. It’s familiar to gamers of all ages, and this gives it a “pick up and play” appeal to a wide range of people, from both die-hard gamers to cautious casual players to complete first-timers. And Slither.io is a Snake game with a really quite innovative twist.  Its what’s properly known as a MMO, a Massively Multiplayer Online [Game,] meaning that you don’t just play against the computer, or against yourself, but against thousands of other people, online, from around the world, all at the same time!  The screen quickly gets hectic as players duck, dive and weave around one another, but, as with almost all multiplayer games, there are some social aspects of the game which parents may wish to make themselves aware of.

Click the icon below to read our parental content report for Slither.io:

slitherio

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Boss Fight

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 a boss fight what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Boss Fight = A challenging fight against an unusually powerful enemy.

What It Means: Boss fights are the most challenging fight sequences in a game, testing the player’s skills. These fights often have a secondary function of dividing the game up into chapters, with the boss battle signalling the end of an area or level and heralding a new section of the story. Though not always the case, boss battle enemies are often much physical larger than the player’s own character. Completing a boss fight nearly always earns the player a useful in-game reward, but they long-winded to play, requiring precise timing and complex moves, and represent a bottle-neck to player progression. Struggling to complete a boss fight can cause a player to become very frustrated and irritable as they are forced to retry the segment over and over again.

Why You Care: A traditional component of game design, boss fights have fallen out of favour amongst some creators and critics, though it does vary considerably from genre to genre. Experienced gamers will often find they have played boss fights with the same “solution” in multiple games, eg tricking the enemy into running into a wall and becoming dazed. Boss fights often require the player to react quickly and accurately in order to win the day, with even one wrong move requiring them to start the long sequence all over again. Players need to concentrate deeply at these times and may become bad-tempered and snappish if disturbed. If stuck, it is usually beneficial to take a break and return to the challenge refreshed.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Skins

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 are skins what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Skins = The appearance of the player’s character.

What It Means: In games which permit a player a character or avatar to represent them on the screen, the appearance of that character is referred to as it’s “skin.” The word skin is a useful one to know, as it gives non-gamers and gamers alike an interesting insight into the “magic behind the curtain” of games creation. The appearance is referred to as a “skin” because when it is saved by the game, all the layers of clothing, accessories, colours and illusions of shapes are saved down as a completely flat 2D file, a literal skin. When that skin is used in the game, it is exported and wrapped around the 3D “mesh” that forms the body of the character.

Why You Care: Many games allow players to customise their character with new outfits, facial expressions, skin tones, accessories and more and this is referred to as customising the “skin.” Players will often enjoy creating skins for the characters of their favourite games and downloading the creations of other players. A word of caution: parents of teenagers may wish to perform a cursory check to ensure that any downloaded skins are wearing an appropriate number of items of clothing…

croftskin-2
Minecraft’s blocky art style makes the concept of “skins” easy to grasp. Like folding up a box from a 2D paper template, these skins start off flat and become 3D images in the game.

croftskin

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Bundle

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 a bundle what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Bundle = A package of  games sold together.

What It Means: Bundling is a the term for multi-buys on games. The consumer receives multiple games in one purchase for a reduced price.

Why You Care: Bundling is a great way to get lots of games for a reduced price. Games bundles allow players to make big savings, and encourage them to try new titles they might not otherwise have bought. We recommend bundling deals as a good way to save money, particularly around festive holidays.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Speed Running

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 speed-running what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Speed Running = Playing a game through from start to finish far faster than it was originally intended to be played.  Speed-running is a public entertainment performance, broadcast online by talented individuals as well as at large-scale sponsored entertainment events.

What It Means: Speed-running is when a player utilises known bugs, glitches, shortcuts, console commands and tricks in order to play a game through at high speed. Games which would take an ordinary player many hours to complete can be “completed” by talented speed-runners in mere minutes. The Games Done Quick events are the most famous example of an international speed-running event and, as with most gaming events, has a strong element of community and charitable giving, with money raised for cancer charities, autism charities, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières and for emergency relief during the aftermath of the 2011 Japan Earthquake.

Why You Care: Speed-running requires an expert level knowledge of the target game, delving deeply into the code, theory and structures of how the game is put together, in order to rip it apart and find new paths. This meticulous research and play-testing takes hundreds of hours, and can appear obsessive. Speed-running is a public entertainment form – a sort of “magic tricks with video-games” – and often with a competitive or faux-competitive angle. When speed-runners are online, they are performing under immense pressure. If the young people in your life want to take up speed-running, they will likely need a level of support from you to ensure they take regular screen breaks and are able to channel their stress effectively when on camera. Good speed-runners become celebrities within their own communities, who recognise the hard work and talent required to execute the most impressive speed-runs.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Walkthrough

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 a walkthrough, what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Walkthrough = A guide to the game

What It Means: A walkthrough is a written, or as is increasingly the case, recorded video content, guide to a game. It will detail the answers to puzzles, how to resolve difficult fight and how to find hidden objects. Walkthroughs are normally used to cheat when a player is stuck or confused. Creating walkthroughs for popular games is a time-consuming task requiring focus and dedication, and is a conscientious way to contribute to the gaming community.

Why You Care: As a parent, walkthroughs are definitely a thing worth knowing about! Have you ever been in the situation of encountering your frustrated child/teen on the verge of a tantrum because they are stuck on a puzzle or fight in a game? Or worse, those dreaded words “I can’t do it, can you have a try?!” and then the controller is thrust into your hands!? If you can’t do it, you lose a lot of parent-cred. So here is an alternative solution:

  • Find the title of the game being played. Look for the box or disc.
  • Pull out a tablet and slap the following magic words into Google:” [Name of Game] Walkthrough.” For example “Far Cry 4 Walkthrough”
  • Pass the tablet to the grumpy youngling and resume peaceful Saturday morning actives.

Google will normally return both video walkthroughs on YouTube, and written text ones from a variety of fan sites. As walkthroughs are instructional rather than entertainment products, there tend to be fewer issues with inappropriate video content, but always check first. Turning the sound off and quickly scrubbing (using your finger on the video slider to fast-forward it) through the video for any obviously inappropriate images will give you piece of mind.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: Map

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 a map what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Map = The generic term for all the playable space the player can freely explore.

What It Means: The “map” refers to the footprint of the game world in games where the player is engaged in exploring, attacking, defending  and collecting activities.

Why You Care:  When you ask your son or daughter what they are doing in their game, they might reply with something like “I’m scouting the map for hidden collectables” or “I’m practising this map for when we next play online together.” To non-gamers, this use of the word “map” might sound strange, but it is the correct technical term and is nothing to be concerned about. Some games permit create and capable players to create their own maps to add to the game. If this is the case, it is recorded in the Creativity section of each game entry.