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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 19:49
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    I'd simply say "that's lame". People get it. ;-) – Pierre Arlaud Jul 3 '14 at 8:01

17 Answers 17


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 '14 at 16:57
  • Or an individual instance can be called a cheap shot. – user39425 Jul 2 '14 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 '14 at 18:04
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    +1 for cheap. In the online games that OP mentioned I've heard it used a lot, but never munchkin. – SpellingD Jul 5 '14 at 18:45
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    +1 for cheap from me too. That's dismissive of the behavior and communicates that the action, while effective, is seen as less honorable. It also shows that a victory using this tactic is less impressive. It also recognizes that this tactic isn't cheating even though it isn't respected. Finally it demonstrates this tactic is overpowered, so it is inherently unfair. I don't really agree with the other terms though because I've never heard them in this context. – Erik Nov 6 '15 at 20:20

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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 15:28
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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 '14 at 17:42
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    "Griefing" is often used for people who purposely cause grief. It's similar to trolling, but doesn't seem to apply to people who are spawn camping for extra points or get some other advantage. – Muz Jul 3 '14 at 0:27

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 '14 at 16:24
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    @slim interesting; I've only ever heard the latter. – Mathletics Jul 2 '14 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. – 0.. Jul 2 '14 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 ________!" – Dom Jul 2 '14 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. – 0.. Jul 2 '14 at 18:19

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 '14 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. – Dom Jul 2 '14 at 15:42
  • Yes, I looked it up on Urban Dictionary which, for my purposes, is good enough. – Mathletics Jul 2 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 22:18

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.


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

  • I think this is an excellent descriptor, but in usage it's engaging in gamesmanship; not a single word. – Mathletics Jul 2 '14 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 '14 at 14:33
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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. – Dom Jul 2 '14 at 15:36
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    Gamesmanship generally does not have a positive connotation. It can almost be considered the opposite of sportsmanship. – pacoverflow Jul 2 '14 at 15:41
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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 '14 at 17:58

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 '14 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 '14 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. – Dom Jul 2 '14 at 20:19

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.


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 '14 at 18:23
  • Don't camp; that's dirty pool! – TecBrat Mar 24 '16 at 16:29

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.

  • This is an excellent late addition! – Mathletics Jul 7 '14 at 14:31
  • @Mathletics: You asked about “annoying behavior …, not expressly prohibited by the rules and thus not technically cheating….” I would have guessed that you were looking for a word comparable to “shameful”. “foul, base, wicked, and morally depraved” seem too harsh for what you want. More to the point, (1) nobody will know what “turpid” means (note that many dictionaries don’t even list it), and so (2) people might assume (until educated otherwise, and maybe even then) that it’s just another euphemism/synonym for the word you’re trying to avoid (and might start using it that way). – Scott Sep 30 '14 at 19:01
  • @Scott, foul and base seem appropriate to me as descriptions of intentional bad behavior. Morally depraved exaggerates some cases, but in many is most accurate. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Oct 1 '14 at 12:58

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."


As it's been the actual accepted answer (see comments), I'll document it in an answer.

People would usually very simply say:

That's lame

Which would mean in this case, according to Wiktionary:

(slang) Failing to be cool, funny, interesting or relevant.

It may be a bit offensive but I do believe it's the right choice in this context (you're not trying to make compliments either after all).

  • Lame is an ableist slur. -1. – Demi Dec 7 '15 at 20:01

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.


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. – Dom Jul 3 '14 at 12:44

How about tryharding? A tryhard is someone who is more concerned about winning the game than about having fun.

  • 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 '14 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 '14 at 20:07

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.


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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