Game Culture, Gaming How To's, Play

Gaming Terminology Primer: Shooters

Today we are going to tackle the genre of shooter games. This is the genre that pulled me hook, line, and sinker into the realm of online PC gaming. (In this instance “PC” means Personal Computer and not Player Character.)

Shooter Games: A game genre where the player’s avatar, either in first person or third person point of view, uses a weapon, typically ranged, to progress through missions or survive as long as possible in arena type settings against other players.

The thing about either having seen a shooter played, or having played one yourself, is that it’s fairly easy to think that once you’ve seen one shooter you’ve seen them all. And I believe there was a time when that might have been true. During the early to mid 90s, for example, id Software pumped out several popular first person shooters that may have differed in setting but looked very similar stylistically.

Thankfully, times have changed, and with them the sophistication of gamers and game developers alike. Whether it be the hyper-realistic style of shooters set in the present like the Call of Duty or Medal of Honor franchises, or a more cartoony series like Borderlands that is set in the future, there is more than likely a shooter out there for anyone’s particular tastes.

How about we take a look at some different styles of shooter and examples of games within those?


FPS: First Person Shooter

This style of shooter takes its name from the point of view of your avatar. You see the game environment exactly as you would if you were that avatar. Typically the only part of “yourself” that you might see are your arms, hands, and the weapon you are wielding.

Examples: Pretty much anything by id Software, Left 4 Dead series

TPS: Third Person Shooter

Also taking its name from the point of view of your avatar, the third person shooter shows all of your avatar, usually from behind as if being followed by a camera. Though, occasionally it might go to a first person view if you sight in with iron sights or a scope on your weapon.

Examples: The Dead Space Series, Warframe

Shooting Gallery

These are also known as Rail Shooters because the player usually doesn’t have direct control of their avatar’s movement, if there is any movement at all. This genre is probably the precursor to all other shooter games. It typically utilizes a gun that emits or detects light to determine if you hit your target. These games are usually found in arcades or on gaming consoles.

Examples: Duck Hunt, House of the Dead series

MMOS: Massively Multiplayer Online Shooter

So, this style of shooter is very like your RPG version of an MMO in that they combine lots of other elements: open world/sandbox style of play area, either first or third person point of view, and hundreds or thousands of people playing simultaneously.

Examples: World of Tanks, Planetside 2



Admin: Administrator. A person whose job it is to enforce rules, change maps, and game mode on a server.

Camping: A style of play where the player stays hidden in one location and shoots any enemies that come into their field of fire.

Cap: Short for capture. The act of capturing a point in a “Capture the Flag” match.

CTF: Capture The Flag. A game mode in shooter games where teams earn points by capturing a flag that is usually guarded by the opposing team.

DM: Death Match. A game mode in shooter games where everyone is against everyone else. The object being to get more kills than anyone else. Also known as Free For All or FFA.

Frag: To kill another player or to be killed by another player. The term, originally coined in the military, was used by id Software in its FPS games.

Gib: Derived from the word giblets. To hit an enemy so hard that they literally explode into pieces.

GG: Good game.

Run and Gun: A style of play where the player is typically on the move at all times and shooting enemies wherever they encounter them.

Spawn Point: The area or areas within the playable portion of the game map where players’ avatars are spawned into the game. This happens both at the beginning of the game and anytime the player might respawn after being “killed” in the match.

TDM: Team Death Match. A match in a shooter where the object is for one team to get more kills than the other.


It is worth noting that shooter games are set in just as many settings as RPGs. There are shooters that fall into sci-fi, horror, western, modern day criminal settings, and sometimes even mixes of those. If you think you would like fast-paced competitive game play, you should definitely give shooter games a try if you haven’t yet.

Please feel free to check out Regina and Rhonda’s podcast episode on first person shooters.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments below, or contact me at or on Twitter @MarsUller.

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