Shooting and fighting game glossaries

By Alex Kierkegaard / December 15, 2006

A while back I noticed that some cool guys over at the Shmups forums were putting together a glossary specifically devoted to shooting game terminology. Long-time forum stalwart Craig Gabrielsen was responsible for compiling and keeping it updated, and all users were invited to propose additions and corrections. I watched the project from the sidelines for a number of months, and when I realized that it was as done as it would ever be (as of this writing the last update was on August 2nd) I offered to make a nice page for it and host it on insomnia.

Now if you are questioning the need for such a glossary then you either know absolutely nothing about shooters, or you know too much. In any case the point I want to make here, and the reason I decided to help give some more exposure to Craig's efforts, is that such a glossary can be a very useful tool for beginners.

Because I sure as hell don't need it, the Shmups forums regulars don't need it, and you bet your ass that Japanese shooting gods like Clover-TAC and SYO wouldn't have any use for it either -- even if they were able to read and understand English. And in any case, for a genre such as this, consisting of nothing less (and little more) than 100% PURE ADRENALINE-FILLED ACTION, a glossary seems like a quaint thing to have at hand -- much less to need -- anyway. I'll tell you right now that all the extra stuff you need to enjoy shooters to the full, besides the arcade/console/computer hardware, are a good arcade stick and the appropriate display.

And yet...

I've had several friends and readers email me after downloading a video from this website, or after watching a good player perform live, and ask for advice on how to improve their skills and get to a level where they can do that sort of thing themselves. What I invariably do in such cases is direct them to the Shumps strategy forum, and what they invariably answer back is that they are having trouble making sense out of all the jargon.

So what it comes down to is that if a beginner can somehow quickly overcome the terminology barrier, then he'll be able to take advantage of the advice offered in places such as Shmups that much more quickly. So a glossary can help someone become a better player -- and thus a happier and more satisfied, and hopelessly addicted player -- that much faster. So here it is. Use it if you need it, and if you want to suggest changes or additions then go ahead and post them in the appropriate forum thread.

Moving on, after Craig had accepted my offer to host his glossary it was natural for me to think of looking around for a similar such project to complement it, this time for fighting games. In fact, as anyone who's ever tried to follow a conversation on a fighting game forum will tell you, that genre is in much more need of a list of commonly used terms than shooters are, since the systems these games employ are usually much more involved.

So with that in mind I headed over to the Shoryuken forums -- the largest English-speaking fighting game community, consisting of more than 40,000 members -- to see if they had a similar project going, or, if not, whether anyone was willing to get one started. What I discovered was that there were a number of half-assed attempts scattered across several sites, forums and wikis, but nothing nearly as comprehensive as what Craig had done, and apparently no one willing to do it.

Now starting an ongoing glossary project is not exactly my idea of fun, and besides any time I spend on such a project is time taken away from reviewing games no one else cares to cover, but I decided to do some preliminary work to get the ball rolling, and hope that eventually someone will step in and take it off my hands (Craig himself is considering taking over at some point). You can see what I've got so far here. It's very rough and and full of errors of all kinds (I hastily assembled and threw it up in a space of less than a week), but at this point it's better than nothing. Check back in a month or two and I promise that by then it will be much more accurate and readable. As before, if you want to help improve it then log into the forums and start helping.

As a final note I'd like to say something about why I think such projects are worthwhile. Forums like Shmups and SRK are all well and good, and have their uses, but the problem with hiding away all this information in some niche site is that only hardcore fans (or those who have already decided to become such) are ever likely to read it. Mixing highly specialised information such as this with information on mainstream games is one of my main goals with this website, so that people who only play mainstream games may become more exposed to -- and thus more likely to take up -- the deeper and more complex genres.

It's a well-intentioned plan, if nothing else! Moreover, judging from feedback I've received so far, I'd say it's working.