Some software programs provide helper functions which guide you through a certain process, and traditionally these are called wizards.

I wish to provide this functionality in the administration-side of a game I am creating, however the game is about magical wizards.

So I was wondering if there are any reasonable words I can use in place of "wizard" to describe a software routine that guides a user through a set of instructions?

Note: I know that the link I provides mentions that some OSes call them "assistants" already, but I am not as fond of this word as I am of "wizard," so am hoping here to find even more alternatives I could use, maybe something original and less common, but equally effective.

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    Requests to help name something are out of scope. Also, word or phrase requests are out of scope unless they are expert-level, particularly interesting, unique, and thought-provoking, and show effort and research. For help writing a good question, see How to Ask.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 20:51
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    @MετάEd This question appears to be an out of the ordinary situation for that restriction. Wouldn't you agree that the redundancy in the term is the special situation that warrants suspending strict application of the rule. The same term would, but shouldn't, apply to a function of the software as well as a character genre of same.
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:35
  • I had this same concern and chose to use "Workflow"
    – Lucas
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 0:18

20 Answers 20


Perhaps genie is in keeping with your theme but different enough from wizard.

It has been used before in a similar sense and can perhaps be said to be an abbreviation e.g.

The term genie is used to refer to a “code generation script”. — www.config4star.org

Otherwise guide and all its synonyms....

  • I have never once heard a "code generation script" referred to as a "genie".
    – user53935
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 0:08
  • @Undo read the link I posted or ime.usp.br/~reverbel/SMW-07/Material/orbix_6.3_pguide_java.pdf ; that term was coined by a company specialising in CORBA called Iona. I didn't say it was widespread; but I do like it.
    – k1eran
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 0:54

Software Wizards generally help the user accomplish a relatively complex data entry task by breaking it down into palatable steps, like installing software or creating a new database record, etc. What you're seemingly looking for is a name for a more passive instructional process, which is generally regarded as a

Tutorial (M-W)

a book, computer program, etc., that teaches someone how to do something by explaining each stage of a process

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    "Guided Tutorial" or "Self Guided Tutorial" as close additions
    – WernerCD
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 0:07
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    A wizard isn't really like a tutorial. It doesn't explain how to do something, it just does it for you so you don't need to learn the details.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 2:45
  • From the OP: "So I was wondering if there are any reasonable alternative words I can use in place of 'wizard' to describe a software routine that guides a user through a set of instructions?" - sounds apt, no?
    – vynsane
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 12:44

"Sherpa" might fulfill that "certain something" you're looking for.

I have no software-related reason; but, a "sherpa" holds a special place helping some attain heights (success) otherwise unattainable. I've used it when referring to my function as an active resource or a more "hands-on" consultant than a more passive "guide on the side".

  • Sounds like you could also call it a yoda.
    – bib
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 20:40
  • @bib If you had that as an answer, I'd vote it up.
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:01
  • @bib Wow! I won't lie here, I think I might actually use "Yoda" in the final product XD (It is being designed for teenage gamers.... who would hopefully appreciate the reference =P)
    – minseong
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:05

Perhaps you could call it a yoda

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”


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    Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Yoda comes with an entourage of trademarks. Using just the word, with no reference to the character might be ok though (I'm not a lawyer). Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:55
  • @hatchet "Yoda", for sure. Whadabout yoda (small-y)? Are there any pro-bono lawyers looking on? Paralegals? Legal aid? Graduate students? Last name Darrow? Anyone?
    – Stan
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 5:15

I once worked for a software company that sold solutions to churches, and many churches objected to the term "wizard" for its relation to occultism. Because of this we used the term "guided experience" in our products instead.

  • This is a good start on an answer. it was automatically flagged as low-quality because of its length and content. Links to external resources are encouraged. Maybe a link to one of these products? For help writing a good answer, see How to Answer.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 15:56

How about a familiar or spirit?

In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as "familiars" or "animal guides") were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.



noun 2. An influential teacher or popular expert
"a management guru"

Not really a computing term, but it should be easily understood. "Guru" comes from Sanskrit, and it means "expert, teacher, etc.".


Tour. Provide a tour of the software features. Maybe a tour guide could replace your wizard.

  • 1
    Do not answer questions which are unclear, out of scope, or already answered many times before. Requests to help name something are out of scope. Also, a good answer is comprehensive and contains an explanation of why it is correct. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better. Links to external resources are encouraged. For help writing a good answer, see How to Answer.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 20:53
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    I think this is a good answer, I actually failed to consider this option when I was thinking of alternatives I could use.... it is very applicable to my situation.
    – minseong
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:12

You could use "helper"

helper : noun

1 - a person or thing that helps or gives assistance, support, etc.



One possibility is Mentor.

  1. A wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
  2. Mentor Greek Mythology Odysseus's trusted counselor, in whose guise Athena became the guardian and teacher of Telemachus.

It's origin in Greek mythology may improve its suitability for your purpose, as a replacement for "wizard".


Consider aid. Or maybe second. Their meaning is of someone/something which provides assistance.

I know the later sound ambiguous but you know the meaning of the one who carries the guns/swords for his master going on a duel; maintains the schedule; kind of a referee on the actual duel...


famulus: A magician's assistant (or famulus) is a performer in a magic act who is not billed as the magician or principal name in the act.


Yes, this kind of software widget is typically called a "wizard". Older software may have used the term "assistant", particularly when accompanied by an animated paperclip. To make a clear distinction you may need to adopt or amend a word from a slightly wider context, such as

golem described on Wikepedia as an "animated anthropomorphic being" originating in Jewish folklore and widely adopted in the 20th and 21st century.

golem ( OED 1.1) An automaton or robot.

Golems also crop up in Sci-Fi and fantasy genre works doing repetitive tasks without complaint. I'll leave the choice of icons to you :D


So I was wondering if there are any reasonable alternative words I can use in place of "wizard" to describe a software routine that guides a user through a set of instructions?

What about "Guided procedure", which incidentally is the way the English word "wizard" is rendered into various languages?


These are known as druids in the GNOME UI library/desktop environment. The term wizard for an assistant was introduced by Microsoft and GNOME presumably wanted a different name while still having a fantasy ring to it.

I don't think the term is well-known even by users of Linux, where GNOME is primarily used. But it does fit the question as an alternative that is actually in use and possibly to the OP's taste.


You could let them follow Will-o'-the-wisp or rather ignis fatuus:


  1. A phosphorescent light that hovers or flits over swampy ground at night, possibly caused by spontaneous combustion of gases emitted by rotting organic matter. Also called friar's lantern, jack-o'-lantern, will-o'-the-wisp, wisp.

  2. Something that misleads or deludes; an illusion.

It would fit in the scheme and it leads you to a goal, possibly not the one you wanted to reach.


For this situation, I would recommend against avoiding the term, and instead I would lampshade it by actually going for the term wizard - but I would give it a personality, such that a specific wizard was guiding them through the process. The game-admin thing then becomes characterful; you get an actual wizard to mentor you through the process.

"Olaf the wizard will guide you through this step..." - then where there is any possibility of confusion or ambiguity, you can refer to him as "Olaf" or "Olaf the wizard", rather than simply "the wizard".

You then get the advantage of not only using an amusing take on this linguistic metaphor, but also giving color and character, and conveying details of background and lore through his speech. Someone running just the admin side, should be able to figure out something about the style of wizards that the game supports.


You could make the users go through an Apprenticeship ...

But the most oft used descriptor for the process of which you speak is Tutorial.


FWIW, my SW developer client calls it an "Assistant".


How about "generator" as in code generator, or the computer definition below.

I think the function you are talking about is generating (or creating) an output on demand, in the sense described in pt 5 below.

generator [jen-uh-rey-ter] 1. a machine that converts one form of energy into another, especially mechanical energy into electrical energy, as a dynamo, or electrical energy into sound, as an acoustic generator. 2.a person or thing that generates. 3.Chemistry. an apparatus for producing a gas or vapor. 4.Mathematics. an element or one of a set of elements from which a specified mathematical object can be formed by applying certain operations. an element, as a line, that generates a figure. 5. Computers. a program that produces a particular type of output on demand, as random numbers, an application program, or a report.


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