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I'm looking for a word which describes an annoying behavior that decreases the overall quality of a game or match, specifically in online gaming (Halo, Call of Duty, etc.) The behavior, while not expressly prohibited by the rules and thus not technically cheating, is generally agreed to be undesirable or even unfair by the other players and puts the offending player at a distinct advantage.

The following words come to mind, but do not precisely fit: annoying (too broad), trolling (mismatched intent; the player is still trying to win the game, not merely annoy others), ungentlemanly (I'd prefer an genderless term.)

I believe unsportsmanlike could be a good fit; I'm looking for either a better fitting word, or a sound justification that one of these words is correct.

edit: To be clear, I am looking for an adjective to levy at someone as an insult for behaving in this way. Also, the interest of the offending player is to win the game at the expense of others. The example camping in the comments is precisely the kind behavior I'm talking about.

I'd like to complete this sentence:

Don't camp; that's ______.

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I know some game specific terms for specific in-game actions like "camping" (hiding out in a spot where you know you'll be able to ambush and kill your enemy) and "spawn killing" (often coupled with camping near a know spawn point, killing an enemy as soon as they appear in the game) There were settings in some Q2 mods that counteracted some of these behaviours. –  TecBrat Jul 2 at 14:52
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There are already too many answers posted, so I'll just put this out there in a comment: would unchivalrous work? –  Marthaª Jul 2 at 16:21
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After reading through a bunch of those "too many" answers, I think its fairly clear you probably would have been better off asking this question in one of the more specialized gaming stacks. Unless you were looking for a word that could explain it to non-gamers that is, in which case this is the right place. –  T.E.D. Jul 2 at 18:03
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@Mathletics - Yes, a very distasteful feature of gaming lingo (for about the last 10 years or so) is the use of the word "gay" for a description of pretty much anything the speaker does not like and does not think should be going on. It so prevalent that I don't think its really assailable by an individual, but that doesn't mean you have to use it yourself. (I've found one good way to avoid a lot of it is to only clan yourself with clans that advertise as "LGBT friendly") –  T.E.D. Jul 2 at 19:49
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I'd simply say "that's lame". People get it. ;-) –  Arlaud Pierre Jul 3 at 8:01
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20 Answers 20

up vote 14 down vote accepted

In a tabletop setting, we would call that kind of player "powergamer" (when it's more skillfully using the rules to maximise some effect) or "munchkin" (when it's hurting fun for everyone else).

So I suppose those terms might work; say "don't camp, it's powergaming".

A less games-focused term might simply be "cheap".

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+1 for munchkin, the official word for manipulating the mechanics over the spirit of a game. –  Magus Jul 2 at 16:57
    
Or an individual instance can be called a cheap shot. –  fredsbend Jul 2 at 18:17
    
My colleague and I have selected this answer because we love the term munchkin and wish to co-opt it; the word cheap is also a good general term. –  Mathletics Jul 5 at 18:04
    
+1 for cheap. In the online games that OP mentioned I've heard it used a lot, but never munchkin. –  SpellingD Jul 5 at 18:45
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In several online games and metaverses such as Second Life and Minecraft this is known as griefing.

Simply, behaving in a way that causes others grief or upset.

This may not be in the OED yet but it is here.

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This is the correct answer. Checkmark it. Technically, griefing is when this behavior is done with that outcome as the goal. Sort of like a gaming version of trolling. Gamers who inadvertently cause this as a side-effect of their own general incompetence have other names (eg: Smacktards, Leeroy Jenkins, etc.) –  T.E.D. Jul 2 at 14:16
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The definition of griefing is something like "to cause harm to other players without benefit to yourself within game rules. Usually done to punish a player for acting against the player, or to entertain a player that knows he can no longer win." –  Andrey Jul 2 at 14:35
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@Mathletics No, it does not necessarily carry "a connotation of trying to win the game at the expense of others". Sometimes it's just for fun. Cruel, sadistic fun. But for some griefers successful griefing may be a kind of "win" on its own. –  Sebastian Negraszus Jul 2 at 15:28
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This seems like a synonym for trolling which is not what I'm looking for. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 15:30
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@Mathletics - My statements aren't "sourced", they are from personal experience. I'm not saying I'm a better authority on every word in whatever anonymous dictionary that was taken from. But as an electronic gamer since 1977, I certainly trust my own knowledge of the lingo more than an unsourced (or in fact any) dictionary entry. That doesn't mean you have to, but it is certainly a data point that one probably ought to take under consideration. –  T.E.D. Jul 2 at 17:42
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I'd probably call them a saddo, and then maybe a spoilsport.

Spoilsport is quite a loose term, and I would use it simply because they are spoiling the sport.

It should be immediately understood if you said:

"Don't be a spoilsport, dude."

Both killjoy and party pooper could also be substituted for spoilsport.


In response to all of the activity and clarifications, I think the right term for what you're describing is beautifully simple:

"Don't camp, that's sad."

It may be simple, but calling the way somebody is gaming sad, should sting just enough to make them consider a strategy that's less sad.

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I think this is the closest; I especially like the pejorative saddo which I had not heard before. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 15:40
    
@Mathletics I'm not sure if there's any official definition for saddo but it's all over Google as well as quite self descriptive. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 2 at 15:42
    
Yes, I looked it up on Urban Dictionary which, for my purposes, is good enough. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 15:53
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As I look at those other words, it suggests that a killjoy or spoilsport is someone who ruins the game through inaction (not participating; sitting on a ball, for example, to prevent others from playing,) rather than someone who uses unsportsmanlike conduct to succeed. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 16:07
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@user I'll grant you that, from the perspective of the one who has played in many rounds, a camper first showing up in round 10 could easily be indistinguishable from a previous opponent changing to camping tactics. I was thinking more along the lines of 1st round encounter a camper, it would seem weird to use these words. –  Mr.Mindor Jul 2 at 22:18
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poor sport fits well. It is also the opposite of good sport.

someone who exhibits improper behaviour during a game, whether winning or losing


Spawn camping (urbandictionary):

in gaming, when one camps (or remains in one position with the intent to obtain multiple kills) the spawn point (or location where players re-enter the game)

often considered poor sportsmanship because players are often unable to respond in time to fight back, or are caught off guard


If we apply to your example:

Don't camp, that's poor sportsmanship.

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"Bad sportsmanship" is, for me, more idiomatic than "poor sportsmanship". –  slim Jul 2 at 16:24
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@slim interesting; I've only ever heard the latter. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 16:30
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@user: Spoilsport is a more general term actually. They spoil the fun in general, also it is used for someone who spoils the fun by not joining an activity. But poor sportsmanship conveys the improper behavior in a game or sport. –  ermanen Jul 2 at 17:28
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I'd like to hear the responses from the other gamers when our OP says "come on guys, don't camp, that's poor sportsmanship". I know that if somebody chose those words when gaming with me, I'd be thinking "What a ________!" –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 2 at 18:04
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This word can be applied to both games and sports. He asked for a word that can be applied to both game or match and gave an example in gaming. I also gave an example for what he exactly asks for. For example, another answer, griefing is specific to gaming. –  ermanen Jul 2 at 18:19
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If you are happy with the connotations of ungentlemanly or unsportsmanlike, while preferring to keep it gender-neutral and less clumsy, consider unsporting.

This is not online-gaming specific; some of the existing answers (especially griefing) cover that better.

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Those players are engaging in gamesmanship, which is "the practice of winning a game or contest by doing things that seem unfair but that are not actually against the rules".

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I think this is an excellent descriptor, but in usage it's engaging in gamesmanship; not a single word. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 14:14
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@Mathletics what exactly are you looking for? The word for the behavior is one word: "gamesmanship". There's no single-word adjective or verb form, but it's not clear that you were looking for that. –  WinnieNicklaus Jul 2 at 14:33
    
@WinnieNicklaus I'm looking for an adjective, sorry. Something I could use in the context "Don't do x, that's ______." I thought it was clear from my examples. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 15:33
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Gamesmanship would need to be looked up and wouldn't fit well in an online conversation. I've never heard of it, and if anything, it sounds quite positive to me. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 2 at 15:36
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This answer is a great illustration of what I was talking about in the comments on Chemunika's answer. This is a wonderful word, and describes the activity very well. Sadly, it does not happen to be the word electronic gamers use for that activity. (@user is right too. While the connotation isn't positive, its not nearly negative enough for gamers either). –  T.E.D. Jul 2 at 17:58
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Gaming the system (also referred to as gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.

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@user (if that is your real name): From the question: “The behavior, while not expressly prohibited by the rules and thus not technically cheating, is generally agreed to be undesirable or even unfair by the other players ….” Sounds like behavior that is counter to the spirit and intent of the rules; i.e., using the rules in a way they were never intended to be used. Aside from the fact that the OP is looking for an adjective (a fact which, I admit, I had overlooked until now), why do you believe that my answer doesn’t satisfy the question? –  Scott Jul 2 at 19:02
    
The issue here is that, while it captures the essence of the offense, it neglects the specific harm caused to other players. Gaming the system can be victimless (relative to other players.) –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 20:05
    
On second thoughts, camping to spawn kill in some games is a good example of gaming the system. I will +1 for a decent alternative. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 2 at 20:19
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I use the word exploiting or exploitative for cases like that. As in the player uses an exploit: a valid move which makes the game not enjoyable for most people.

Powergaming or min-maxing is a common term for people who twist rules to get ahead, but it's not applicable to something like spawn killing. It's more for RPGs with character builds that don't make sense from a story perspective.

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Two options: dishonourable or unscrupulous.

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I suggest the word turpid, an adjective which refers to things foul, base, wicked, morally depraved. For example:

Don't camp; that's turpid.

Turpid derives from the same Latin root turpis ( ugly, unsightly; foul, filthy; or cacophonous, disagreeable; or (figuratively) base, infamous, scandalous, dishonorable, shameful, disgraceful) as does the well-known word turpitude. Etymonline says the following of turpitude:

"depravity, infamy," late 15c., from Middle French turpitude (early 15c.), from Latin turpitudinem (nominative turpitudo) "baseness," from turpis "vile, physically ugly, base, unsightly," figuratively "morally ugly, scandalous, shameful," of unknown origin. Klein suggests perhaps originally "what one turns away from" (compare Latin trepit "he turns").

Note that many of the terms mentioned in the definitions and etymology may also serve.

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This is an excellent late addition! –  Mathletics Jul 7 at 14:31
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An answer to the more general question:

What is the name of the behavior, while not expressly prohibited by the rules and thus not technically cheating, is generally agreed to be undesirable or even unfair.

One possible answer is "Dirty Pool".

The literal example of this is when you are playing American 8-Ball and you have no good shot, so you take a shot that leaves the cue ball sitting "behind the 8-Ball" (another idiom, for language learners to look up.)

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"Dirty pool" can mean unsporting, but carries a heavier connotation of deception or underhandedness. –  wordsmythe Jul 3 at 18:23
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It's a bit narrow in it's usage, but sandbagging could describe the rather annoying (but otherwise typically rules-abiding) behavior of someone not putting effort into playing a game "properly", or otherwise intentionally under-performing (resulting in their team losing, or the opposition not finding enjoyable competition).

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Sandbagging is a specific example of annoying behaviour, not a word for annoying behaviour in general. –  David Richerby Jul 5 at 15:18
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I guess it depends in what context you are wishing to use the word in. If it is in Minecraft, a word like "griefer" might work, whereas if it were in a MOBA, then it could be called "feeding". You could, however use much more overarching terms that can be found in other answers on this page.

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In sport games like FIFA when he is losing starts to retain the ball, pass it to the goalkeeper, make unnecessary dribbling and of course disconnect from the match even before halftime so i always refer to these people as BAD LOSERS

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I like griefing; and a similar term used in a slightly more narrow sense is Spamming

This is repeated use of the same action or tactic and although able to be countered on a well-balanced game, it is typically annoying and diminishing enjoyment to the other player until they learn to counter it.

For example, when learning to play fighting games as a particular character, to master my use of the character, I would try the same special move over and over. When I learned it, my friends would accuse me of spamming until they learned how to defend against or counter the move.

Spamming is a common form of griefing.

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A term I've heard recently to mean gaming the game, so to speak, is metagaming. WP says:

Metagaming is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself. In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.

While I don't think this is a pejorative term, I think it can be used as a slight. The Dota 2 Stanley Parable Announcer Pack, notorious for its antagonistic and contentious announcements, uses this quote to burst the bubble of the Radiant team when they win:

Praise the Radiant and their knowledge of meta-systems to manipulate the flow of battle!

The narrator is implying that the game was not won because of the expected reasons of individual skill or teamwork but through another (possibly questionable) understanding of how the game works.

Metagaming does seem to be a hypernym to the given example of camping, where one player "obtains a static strategic position of advantage... [which] is often seen as a method for circumventing much of the effort usually required to acquire a desired reward..." The camping player is not winning because he's a better or faster at aiming or evading; he's winning because he can "easily pick off any opponent that comes into sight without giving them any indicator of his/her presence in the area."

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I think the piece of information that the OP originally left out, namely that the intent is to replace the use of the word gay that's being used in a homophobic manner with the intent of challenging the target's "manliness", is extremely relevant to providing a good answer. A number of the answers given so far are failures in my mind because they attract the same kind of attacks the OP wants to disarm: the opponent is going to say the word "sounds gay".

As I see it, the goal is to find a wording to make the person who's exhibiting the annoying gaming behavior look bad, but to do so without relying on a perceived association of badness with being gay, "feminine" (this has both homophobic and sexist aspects to it), etc.

The first word that comes to my mind is pathetic.

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The OP asked to keep this out of the post altogether. Why would you then answer directly with what the OP doesn't want? Yes the answer is more relevant to the OP, but he specifically asked that we don't mention it. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 3 at 12:44
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I think you may be referring to some sort of distraction techniques used by a player to annoy other players so as to gain an advantage on them. The aim is to make competitor players lose concentration so as to be able to win the game more easily. I think that it may be described as a disturbing behaviour.

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While this may be the case, it may also not be. The OP wants a phrase somewhat more related to opportunism. –  Magus Jul 2 at 19:22
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How about tryharding? A tryhard is someone who is more concerned about winning the game than about having fun.

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In my experience, a tryhard is someone who gets too angry and loses sight of what they're doing. It is best applied to those you've just trolled, though I have seen it applied to people who are simply successful. Either way, it's unrelated to taking advantage of obscure mechanics. –  Magus Jul 2 at 19:19
    
In the specific context of online gaming, I would expect tryhard to be the retort from someone just called out for being a poor sport. The tryhard is the person enforcing the rules, even the unwritten ones. –  Mathletics Jul 2 at 20:07
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gay would be an (offensive to many) colloquialism.

Gay is often used pejoratively to mean weak, or lame.

eg.

Don't camp, that's gay.

or

Camping is for fags.

However, be cautioned that many people find the use of the term gay in this context offensive, as it's seen as homophobic.

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Just because a car has wheels, does not mean that the word for "something with wheels" is car. Just because a politician can be a liar, does not mean that the word for "someone who lies" is politician. Likewise for your answer here. It is backwards. Yes, you can apply gay to annoying behavior, but gay does not mean "annoying behavior". It is a catch-all term that can be applied to a zillion other things. And there are any number of other catch-all terms (some of which the OP himself lists and dismisses), so your preference for gay is rather random. –  RegDwigнt Jul 3 at 8:11
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I would vote to remove this answer. You're wrong to say that "many people find the use of the term gay in this context offensive", it is always offensive in its very nature (unless you mean to actually mean to address someone's sexual preferences, which is not part of this question). It is just calling names aimed at humiliating people and should not even qualify as an answer. –  Yellow Jul 3 at 10:20
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The OP specifically requested that we leave that issue out in comments. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 3 at 12:39
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Sadly, though, this answer is in fact correct. As a gay man who finds this very offensive, it was still the first thing that popped into my head on reading the question. And the answerer does correctly point out that although the word is frequently used this way, many of us find it offensive and it is indeed homophobic. –  thumbtackthief Jul 3 at 14:21
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Yes, it is seen as homophobic. Like jumping off a cliff is seen as dangerous. I'm not totally agreeing with Yellow's comment because if the term is used in this context for this meaning, the answer is technically useful, but please dwjohnston, don't ignore the fact that this very usage is definitely homophobic. –  RomainVALERI Jul 3 at 22:00
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