PC gaming glossary

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games

The following is a list of common terminology and respective definitions in circulation with relevance to PC gaming. It is designed for use as a tool for beginners, and the experienced who wish to improve their knowledge, or link to a specific definition in an article on this wiki.

To link to a specific definition, you must add the following to your article:
[[Gaming Glossary#DEFINITION_ANCHOR_HERE|Your text here]]
Definition anchors are the same as their respective entry in the Terminology column, however, terms with multiple words must be split in the anchor with an underscore ("_").

Computer Graphics[edit]

Artifacts and Distortion[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example


A form of image distortion that occurs on the outline of objects when representing a high resolution image at a lower resolution; common in 3D imaging. It is often resolved using anti-aliasing.
Not antialiased Cube.png

Screen Tear

Screen Tearing, Tearing An image artifact whereby two different images from two different frames are displayed at the same time, leading to distortion. Screen tearing occurs because the monitor and graphics adaptor act independently of each other, at their own rate. It can be resolved most effectively using vertical sync.

Image Processing[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example


AA A computer graphics technique that attempts to minimise the distortion artifacts known as aliasing, presented when a high resolution image is displayed at a lower resolution. Anti-aliasing effectively "smooths" these artifacts leaving a visually crisper outline.
Antialiased Cube.png

Double Buffering

A technique for drawing graphics that show fewer examples of screen flicker and tearing.

Triple Buffering

A similar technique to double buffering, but one that is considerably faster, because triple buffering offers the ability to buffer more than one drawing at once.

Vertical Synchronisation

Vertical Sync, Vsync A more effective method of processing used to prevent screen tear. It forces the graphics adaptor to wait until the monitor is ready before the frame is displayed.


Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example


Changing light intensity when entering/exiting darkness/light


Light bloom, glow Glow applied to objects that emit or reflect light

Depth of field

DoF Blurring the camera's view beyond a certain depth (radius)

Motion blur

Blurring the camera's view when moving

Rendering and Shading[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example

Ambient Occlusion

A shading method used in 3D graphics to add realism to models by taking into account the attenuation of light due to occlusion. Practically, it improves shadowing and highlights to match the light source which they are absorbing or reflecting.

Level of Detail

LOD, LoD Similar in premise to mipmaps, but used in 3D modelling, level of detail models are a set of pre-loaded models used to improve performance by loading poorer and poorer quality models as the camera travels further and further away. This allows for faster frame rates in environments that contain a number of 3D models, and a greater draw distance.

Ray Tracing

Raytracing, RT A rendering technique for generating an image by tracing the path of light and simulating the effects of its encounters with virtual objects.

Texture Filtering[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example

Anisotropic Filtering

AF A form of texture filtering that enhances the image quality of textures that recede into the distance, preventing otherwise blurred environments from impacting on graphical quality. It also eliminates aliasing, and is generally more effective than bilinear and trilinear forms of filtering at reducing blur and preserving detail.

Bilinear Filtering

A method of filtering used to smooth textures when displayed larger or smaller than their native resolution.


MIP (Multum-in-parvo) map A set of pre-loaded, lower resolution textures packaged alongside the full resolution texture, allowing poorer quality textures to be rendered when the player is further away from an object, improving performance whilst retaining visual integrity upon close inspection.
MipMap Example STS101.jpg

Trilinear Filtering

An extension of bilinear filtering which is more accurate at smoothing images which have been resized above double their original size, or below half their original size.


Technical terms with relevance to software licensing, development and support are listed here.


Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example


Discontinued software that is no longer available for purchase. Abandonware is legally considered copyright infringement, however in practice copyright holders rarely enforce their abandonware copyrights. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Closed-Source Software

Software released or distributed without its corresponding source code - only the binaries of a computer program are distributed and the license provides no access to the program's source code. Origin

Free Software

Software Libre, Libre Software A video game or piece of software which the consumer can use, study or modify without restriction. The software can be copied, changed and redistributed either without any restrictions, or with restrictions that only ensure that the receiver of the software can do those same things. Linux

Open-Source Software

OSS Software (usually free) available in source code form, permitting users to study, change, improve and to distribute the software. It is practically the same as Free Software. Wine

Proprietary Software

A video game or piece of software licensed under the exclusive legal right of the respective copyright holder. The user is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, while restricted from other uses, such as modification or redistribution. TERA

Public Domain Software

A piece of software whose intellectual property rights have expired, been forfeited, or are no longer applicable. Colossal Cave Adventure

Life Cycle[edit]

Note: The following terminology is listed in order of its place in the software release life cycle, and not alphabetically as with the majority of this page.

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example


All activities performed during software development prior to testing - this may include software design and development.


The first phase of software testing, often focused on "white-box testing" - testing the internal structures or workings rather than its functionality.


The second phase of software testing, generally beginning when the software is "feature complete" (there are exceptions to this, e.g. Minecraft), but may still have significant bugs. The Beta phase may be 'closed' (released to a restricted group of individuals for a user test by invitation) or 'open' (released to a larger group, or anyone interested). Closed: Diablo III Beta
Open: Minecraft Beta

Release Candidate

RC A Beta version with potential to be a final product, which is ready to release unless significant issues emerge. By this point in development, all product features have been designed, coded and tested through one or more Beta cycles with no known remaining major bugs. Windows 8 Release Preview

Release To Manufacturing

RTM, Release To Marketing, Going Gold, Golden Master Software which has been mass-produced and is ready for delivery to the customer.

General Availability

GA, General Acceptance, First Customer Shipment The point by which all commercialisation activities are complete and the software has been released to the general public through the web or physical media. Legend of Grimrock


Service Packs, Service Releases, Interim Releases The software has been released and its developer has begun offering updates to improve its features or fix known bugs or security flaws. Windows 8.1


Abandonware The product is no longer sold or supported, is discontinued or obsolete. However, a user-base may still be active for some time after this. Windows 2000

Piracy and Software Modification[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example

Key Generator

License Key Generator, Product Key Generator, Keygen A computer program that generates a product licensing key necessary to activate a software application. They are often used illegally to generate keys for commercial software, allowing the user to gain access to the full version of a piece of software without paying for it.

Software Cracking

Cracking Software cracking is the removal or disabling (often illegally) of software DRM features deemed undesirable by a user, such as the need for a product key or CD check, or to convert demo or trial software into the full version. The vast majority of cracks are issued by private individuals, but notable examples do exist where official crack patches are released by developers to improve performance or to minimise user-base discontent. No-CD Crack

Revenue Models[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example

Commercial Software

Payware Software that is produced for a user to purchase, or that serves commercial purposes. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


A freely available preview or demonstration of an upcoming or released video game, often limited to a selected fraction of the full game's content, in order to help consumers get a feel of the game before deciding whether to buy the full version. Naval War: Arctic Circle demo version


F2P Any video game that has the option to play indefinitely with no charge. Age of Empires Online


Pay-For-Perks, P2W, Pay-to-Win A business model in which users may play a video game without charge, but can access extra or more advanced features for a fee. Microsoft Flight


Software which is available for free use - however it is usually packaged with one or more restrictions on usage rights. Steam


Trialware, Demoware Software provided free for use for a limited 'trial period' before purchase, often restricted in functionality, availability and convenience. EVE Online

Subscription Software

A video game or piece of software for which the user must pay a repeat subscription fee (usually monthly or yearly) to obtain continued access to. World of Warcraft

Use Restrictions[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example

Digital Rights Management

DRM A method in which digital products, such as games can be controlled with the aim of reducing piracy. It can be implemented in a number of ways. Product Key


Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example
Limited Installations Activation Limit The player is limited to a specific number of installs (often 3, 5, or 10), after which they must contact the publisher's customer support to acquire more. Developers often release "de-authorisation tools" to return a used activation after the game is uninstalled from that system. Spore

Partial Install

Online Authentication Only a proportion of the game is installed from the disc, with the remainder either being downloaded upon install, or streamed to the game as it runs (requires constant internet connection). Uplay

Product Key

Serial Key, Software Key, CD-Key A software key for a computer program, designed to certify the product as genuine, and restrict piracy. Activation is either undertaken offline, with an unlimited number of installs; or online, often tying the game to a user account and restricting the number of installs. The Sims 3 serial key

User Account

A purchased game is tied or "bonded" to an online account which requires a login to verify the user's identity. This may require a one time, frequent, or constant internet connection. Steam games

Video Games[edit]

Only terms with specific relevance to video games and their components are listed here.


Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example


A software program that allows a computer or game console to emulate a different game console's behaviour. Emulators are most often used to play older video games, but can also play games translated into other languages or to modify existing games. Dolphin


A disk image (complete carbon copy) of an optical disk which is read by an emulator. Super Mario Sunshine.iso


A file which contains a copy of data from read-only memory cartridges used in old video consoles which is read by an emulator. Duck Hunt.nes

Updates and Support[edit]

Terminology Abbreviations/Synonyms Definition Example

Downloadable Content

DLC, Add-on, Add-on Pack Officially released additional content for a video game, distributed over the web. DLC can range from a new car or outfit to an extensive new storyline, similar in premise to an Expansion Pack. Microsoft Flight DLC

Expansion Pack

Expansion Official additional content for a game that is generally more expansive than other forms of DLC. Expansion packs may introduce new storylines or map areas. They may be developed by the developer of the original game, however, sometimes they will contract out development of expansion packs to third-party developers. Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening


Mod Generally unofficial, fan-made software designed to improve upon an existing game. Mods can range in size from graphical exploits to entirely new storylines or game worlds, but they are not standalone software and require the user to possess the original game to use them. Sometimes the original developer will release mods, or modding tools. Civilization IV's Rhye's and Fall of Civilization


Software Update A piece of software designed to fix bugs with, or update a computer program. Patches can be "official" - released by the developer; or "unofficial" (fan-made). Evil Genius official/unofficial patches

Standalone Expansion Pack

Standalone Expansion, Standalone Game, Expandalone An expansion pack which does not require you own the basic game in order to play. These expansions often include a large amount of new content distancing them from the original game. Some standalone expansions will penalise users for not owning prior expansion packs or the basic game by restricting access to content. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion