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Gaming in the Library: A Gamer's Lexicon

Get your game on at the Library!

A Lexicon of Gaming Terms (Thanks to for providing some of these)

Abstract Games (or abstract strategy) - Games that challenge a players planning, reasoning, and critical thinking skills. Many of the worlds oldest games, such as Chess and Go are abstract games. Abstract games most often involve two players and do not usually have a theme. Randomness and chance are either non-existant or very minimal in abstract games.

Ameritrash - Contrary to the way it sounds, Ameritrash is not considered to be a pejorative term. Ameritrash can mean different things depending on who is using it, but in general it defines a genre of games that rely on highly developed themes, characters, heroes, or factions with individually defined abilities, combat, and usually involve dice rolls or other luck-based mechanics, to resolve conflict between players. Players are also often eliminated from gameplay at some point until there is only one remaining. Axis and Allies is an example of an Ameritrash game.

Beer & Pretzels Game - A game with strong random elements and a lighthearted, humorous theme.

Bits - The pieces used in gameplay.  Many game critics consider the quality of a game's bits as an important criterion when reviewing a game. - A website devoted to gaming of all kinds, including board and card games. The BoardGameGeek Glossary is the source for many of the definitions in this lexicon.  You can view the (much longer) glossary here.

Card Games - Games involving the use of playing cards as the primary element. Traditional playing cards are not required to be used, although they often are. Poker is an example of a card game using traditional playing cards, while Uno or Bohnanza are examples of games that use other designs.

Cooperative Games - Games where the players do not play against each other but work towards a common goal.

Designer Board Games - See Eurogames

Dexterity Game - A game in which manual skill is necessary for success. Jenga is a dexterity game.

Eurogames - Also referred to as German-style board games. Eurogame is a game genre that includes more than just board games, as well as games originating from areas other than Europe.  Eurogames, like Ameritrash games, share a number of characteristics such as indirect player conflict, all players remain in the game at game end, players compete over resources or victory points, randomness or luck (thus dice) as a mechanic is usually very limited, and designers pay a great deal of attention to the bits. Settlers of Catan is an example of a Eurogame.

Expansion - An additional component for a game that usually requires the original game to play. Expansion sets are sold separately from the original game. They often add a new variation or allow additional players to participate in the game play.

Family Games - Games that appeal to a wide range of individual tastes. Family games are usually non-violent, sometimes even cooperative. Family games often utilize randomness or chance as a primary mechanic. Roll Through the Ages is an example of a Family Game.

German-style Board Games - See Eurogames

Party Game - A game for large groups that emphasizes social interaction and conversation.

Spiel des Jahres - A a much sought-after, prestigious German game award given to board and card games.  Click here for more about the Spiel des Jahres award, including a history of the winners.

Tile - A piece usually made of cardboard or plastic that either makes up the playing board for a game or is an element that is played as a game mechanic.

Turtling - To utilize an over-the-top defensive strategy. Players who turtle retreat into a shell.