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Some Japanese Vocabulary Relevant to Video Games

It feels like I'm past due to make some sort of update, and I've been putting this list together on and off for a while, so here it is.

Miscellaneous Vocabulary Related to Video Games

Common Game Genres

  • アクション or ACT: Action games. Generally includes arcade-style games, platformers like the Mario games, shoot 'em ups like the Touhou series, fighting games, first- and third-person shooters, and so on.
  • ロールプレイング or RPG: Role-playing games, like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Sub-genres include the type that blends in action components, the アションRPG or ARPG (action RPG, like Secret of Mana), and the type featuring larger-scale battles, the シミュレーションRPG or SRPG (simulation RPG, like Final Fantasy Tactics, commonly called Tactical RPG or TRPG in English).
  • アドベンチャー or ADV or AVG: Adventure games, but not necessarily the way you'd expect. In English, the Adventure genre typically means things like King's Quest that combine exploration and item hoarding with puzzle solving. In Japanese, the genre just as often means what we'd call dating sims or visual novels—lots of text, occasional decision points, and much more storyline than interaction. However, it does include both types, as well as some other sub-genres such as room escape and survival horror games.
  • パズル: Puzzle games, which include things like Minesweeper and Tetris in addition to more obviously puzzling games like quizzes and sliding block puzzles.
  • シミュレーション or SLG or SIM: Simulation games. Everything from turn-based or real-time strategy games like Civilization or Starcraft, to flight and driving simulators, to construction and management simulations like Sim City, to the sort of game where you're trying to train up a character or team like the Princess Maker series.

Most of the terms below apply primarily to RPGs and games with RPG-like characteristics.

Common Statistic-Related Terms

General

  • ステータス: Status. May be used either in the sense of statistics (attributes, parameters, etc.) or status effects.
  • パラメータ: Parameter(s), usually character stats.
  • 能力 (のうりょく): Ability, capability. Roughly equivalent to "stats".
  • レベル, LVL, LV: Level, a general indication of a character's overall strength and experience.
  • 経験値 (けいけんち), EXP: Experience points, typically in RPGs.
  • 職業 (しょくぎょう), ジョブ: Job, occupation. Otherwise known as character class.
  • 物理 (ぶつり): When used with other terms, or as a shorthand, "physical" (as opposed to magical).
  • 魔法 (まほう): Magic or magical. May be used in combination with other terms or on its own.

Physical Strength and Toughness

  • HP: Hit points (more often than not). Typically functions as health.
  • LIFE: Usually a synonym for HP.
  • 体力 (たいりょく): Vitality, stamina, constitution. Depending on the game, this may have to do with hit points, defense power, or both. Infrequently, it may affect offense instead of or in addition to defense, but the key point in all cases is that it relates to physical capability.
  • 力 (ちから): Power. When used by itself as a stat, this most often refers to physical strength, but the 力 character also occurs very frequently in compounds.
  • パワー: Power, as directly transliterated from English.
  • 強さ (つよさ): Strength.
  • 腕力 (わんりょく): Physical strength (literally, arm strength).
  • 攻撃力 (こうげきりょく): Attack power. Affects how much your attacks hurt. The 力 (りょく) denotes "power" and may be omitted.
  • 守り, 護り (まもり): Defense. Also a term for a protective charm.
  • 防御力 (ぼうぎょりょく): Defense power. Affects how much getting hit hurts. The 力 (りょく) denotes "power" and may be omitted.

Magical and Mental Ability

  • MP: Magic points (more often than not). Typically functions as energy for spell or skill usage.
  • MANA: Usually a synonym for MP.
  • AP: Ability points (more often than not). Sometimes an alternate term for MP, sometimes another type of energy for skills, other times these are spent to learn abilities.
  • SP: Skill points (more often than not). Sometimes an alternate term for MP, sometimes another type of energy for skills, other times these are spent to learn abilities.
  • TP: Technique points (more often than not). Sometimes an alternate term for MP, sometimes another type of energy for skills, other times these are spent to learn abilities.
  • 消費 (しょうひ): Consumption. You won't see that as its own stat, but some items or skills may affect how much MP, etc., it costs to use abilities.
  • 精力 (せいりょく): Energy, spirit. This typically relates in some way to magical ability, either strength or capacity. Alternately, games with sexual content may use this as a measure of staying power for that sort of activity, possibly instead of HP or MP.
  • 魔力 (まりょく): Magical power. This typically relates in some way to magical ability, either strength or capacity.
  • 魔法力 (まほうりょく): Magical power. This typically relates in some way to magical ability, either strength or capacity.
  • 知性 (ちせい): Intelligence. Often affects magical abilities, especially offensive ones.
  • 知力 (ちりょく): Intelligence again, though this term seems to imply an ability to apply that intelligence beyond simply having it.
  • 精神 (せいしん): Spirit. Often affects magical abilities, especially defensive ones.
  • 信仰 (しんこう): Faith. May affect healing and holy magic for cleric types, for instance.
  • 魔法攻撃力 (まほうこうげきりょく): Magical attack power. Affects how well your spells work. The 力 (りょく) denotes "power" and may be omitted. Sometimes abbreviated as 魔攻.
  • 魔法防御力 (まほうぼうぎょりょく): Magical defense power. Affects how much getting hit by magic hurts. The 力 (りょく) denotes "power" and may be omitted. Sometimes abbreviated as 魔防.

Quickness and Coordination

  • 速さ (はやさ): Speed. (the noun form of 速い, "fast")
  • 速度 (そくど): Speed. (a painfully literal translation would be "degree of fastness")
  • スピード: Speed, as directly transliterated from English.
  • 敏捷性 (びんしょうせい): Quickness. Basically speed again. The 性 may be omitted.
  • 器用 (きよう): Dexterity. Likely to influence things like accuracy in general and possibly also skill or damage with weapons like bows.
  • 素早さ (すばやさ): Agility. Likely to influence things like accuracy and evasiveness, in addition to or instead of how quickly the character can act.
  • 命中率 (めいちゅうりつ): Accuracy, hit rate. The 率 (りつ) denotes "rate" and may be omitted.
  • 回避率 (かいひりつ): Evasion. The 率 (りつ) denotes "rate" and may be omitted.
  • 魔法回避率 (まほうかいひりつ): Magic evasion. The 率 (りつ) denotes "rate" and may be omitted. Sometimes abbreviated as 魔避.

Common Skill-Related Terms

  • 技 (わざ): Skill, art, technique. A generic term for anything more complicated than just swinging a weapon.
  • 特技 (とくぎ): Same as 技, but with the implication that it's more specialized or possibly unique to the user or class.
  • 奥義 (おうぎ): Secret/advanced art.
  • 必殺 (ひっさつ): Special attack. Literally means "certain kill".
  • 術 (じゅつ): Art, technique. May have more supernatural implications than 技, or not, such as...
  • 剣術 (けんじゅつ): Swordplay.
  • 魔法 (まほう): Magic, spells.
  • 魔導 (まどう): Sorcery, more or less. The term may appear in place of 魔法, for effect more than anything else, I think.
  • 魔法剣 (まほうけん): A style of magic, literally "magic sword", that involves channeling a spell through the blade of a sword. Other weapons may substitute for swords, and Chrono Trigger even uses 魔法ロボ (magic Robo) in some cooperative skill descriptions.
  • 忍法 (にんぽう): Ninja arts, usually of the magical sort.
  • 黒魔法 (くろまほう): Black magic (usually damaging and weakening spells)
  • 白魔法 (しろまほう): White magic (usually healing and strengthening spells)
  • 召喚 (しょうかん): Summoning.
  • 魔術 (まじゅつ): Magic, usually of a more destructive variety. Comparable to black magic.
  • 法術 (ほうじゅつ): Typically refers to a healing-oriented branch of magic, comparable to white magic. I get this impression this is conceptually more "order magic" whereas 魔術 is more "chaos magic". Also note that the 魔 of 魔術 and the 法 of 法術 put together form 魔法, the generic term for magic.

Terms Related to Damage and Effectiveness

General

  • ダメージ: Damage.
  • クリティカル: Critical. Most often refers to critical hits (that occur randomly and inflict bonus damage), but may also mean critical (dangerously low) health.
  • 会心 (かいしん): Literally "satisfying". Some games, such as the Dragon Quest series, use this in place of "critical" to describe the randomly occurring hits that hit harder than usual.
  • 回復 (かいふく): Recovery. May indicate healing or status recovery, or both.
  • 弱点 (じゃくてん): Weakness.
  • 耐性 (たいせい): Resistance, typically used as a suffix with a status effect or damage type (e.g., 毒耐性 is poison resistance). Depending on the game, this may indicate complete immunity, when used with status effects, rather than partial resistance.
  • 半減 (はんげん): Reduction by half. Common as a type of elemental resistance.
  • 軽減 (けいげん): Reduction, in a non-specific amount.
  • 無効 (むこう): No effect, invalidation (e.g., 雷無効 indicates immunity to thunder damage).
  • 吸収 (きゅうしゅう): Absorption. When used defensively and with a damage type, this means damage of that type will heal instead of hurting. This can also refer to draining attacks (those that take HP or MP from the target and give it to the user).
  • 防御無視 (ぼうぎょむし): Defense-ignoring
  • 属性 (ぞくせい): Meaning "attribute" or "trait", it functions as a general term for damage type. In English parlance, the word "element" often serves the same purpose. For instance, 水属性 equates to "water-elemental".

Some games may also use symbols to indicate how well armor, for example, protects against various damage types. For instance, ○ or ◎ may indicate bonuses, and △ or × penalties, but it depends on the specific game.

Some attacks may have more than one damage type. How multiple types work depends on the game, and may include using whichever works best for the attacker, using whichever most benefits the defender, multiplying all the modifiers together, adding all the multipliers together, or something else entirely.

Similarly, the way defenses combine varies from game to game, though most commonly combining a weakness with a resistance will either cause the resistance to override the weakness or cause both of them to cancel each other out.

Physical Damage Types

  • 物理 (ぶつり): Physical
  • 斬 or 切: Slashing (bladed slicing weapons such as katanas)
  • 壊 or 打: Bludgeoning (blunt-force trauma weapons such as maces)
  • 突 or 刺: Piercing (pointy stabbing weapons such as spears)
  • 射: Shot (arrows, bullets). Sometimes functions as its own type instead of as piercing.

In games that use the slashing/bludgeoning/piercing system, unarmed attacks often act as bludgeoning, because fists. Some weapons may cover multiple types, such as a longsword that can either stab or slash, a spiked mace that both smashes and pierces, or a heavy axe that crushes as it cleaves. How multiple types work depends on the game, but typically any that uses this sort of system should give you the benefit of whichever type works best, which makes sense if you think about it (something with resistance to cutting but not squashing shouldn't fare very well against that heavy axe).

Elemental Damage Types

  • 魔法 (まほう): Magic/magical
  • 火 (ひ), 炎 (ほのお), 火炎 (かえん): Fire/flame
  • 熱 (ねつ): Heat
  • 氷 (こおり): Ice
  • 冷気 (れいき), 冷 (れい): Cold
  • 雷 (かみなり or いかづち): Thunder/lightning
  • 水 (みず): Water
  • 風 (かぜ): Wind
  • 大地 (だいち), 土 (つち), 地 (ち): Earth/ground/soil
  • 毒 (どく): Poison
  • 聖 (せい), 聖なる (せいなる): Holy
  • 光 (ひかり): Light
  • 邪悪 (じゃあく), 邪 (よこしま): Evil
  • 闇 (やみ), 暗黒 (あんこく): Dark
  • 魔 (ま): Sometimes comes up as a type vaguely akin to, but different from, dark or evil. It's long been a frustration of mine that 魔 doesn't translate well.
  • 無属性 (むぞくせい): No trait ("non-elemental")
  • 耐性無視 (たいせいむし): Literally "ignores resistances". I've seen this as a name for traitless damage, in some games where every attack that isn't this has at least one damage type. This, and non-elemental damage in general, has the advantage of working against any opponent, but the disadvantage of never striking a weakness.

Bonuses against Enemy Type

対 (たい) as a prefix indicates "anti-", typically giving extra damage against a certain category of enemy. For example...

  • 対魚: Anti-fish (or sea creatures in general)
  • 対水棲: Anti-aquatic life
  • 対鳥: Anti-bird (or flying creatures in general)
  • 対昆虫: Anti-insect
  • 対爬虫: Anti-reptile
  • 対霊: Anti-spirit/ghost
  • 対不死: Anti-undead
  • 対獣: Anti-beast (wolves, tigers, etc.)
  • 対竜: Anti-dragon
  • 対人間: Anti-human
  • 対機械: Anti-machine
  • 対魔: Anti-demon, anti-mage, anti-supernatural. However, 退魔 (たいま) appears more commonly for demon-slaying attacks, where 退 in this context basically translates to "drive out".

Some common status conditions

  • 普通 (ふつう): Normal.
  • ステータス異常 (いじょう): Status abnormality, otherwise known as a negative status effect.
  • 戦闘不能 (せんとうふのう): Incapacitation, literally "incapable of combat". The most common term for what's often loosely called "dead", though there are others, such as...
  • 気絶 (きぜつ): Unconscious. And every so often a game will just go ahead and outright use...
  • 死亡 (しぼう), 死 (し): Dead. They tend to avoid this one, though, for obvious plot-related reasons.
  • 即死 (そくし): Instant death. Any attack that directly, instead of through damage, causes whichever form of "dead" the game uses.
  • 石化 (せきか), 石 (いし): Petrification/stone. Typically acts as an alternate form of "deadness" with different causes, cures, and preventative measures.
  • 毒 (どく): Poison. Typically this inflicts damage over time, and it may also hinder offense or defense.
  • 火傷 (やけど): Burns. May have a gradual damage effect like poison, lower attributes, or both.
  • 麻痺 (まひ): Paralysis. Typically prevents or at least hinders taking action. Sometimes abbreviated as 痺.
  • 感電 (かんでん): Shocked. May take the place of paralysis, or perhaps lower stats.
  • 睡眠 (すいみん), 眠り (ねむり): Sleep. Typically prevents taking action, also likely to increase vulnerability, but a hit tends to remove it. Sometimes abbreviated as 眠.
  • ストップ: Stop. Typically prevents taking action. Often also halts other time-related effects, like periodic poison damage or remaining time of temporary status effects.
  • 凍結 (とうけつ): Frozen. Yet another "can't act" status. Might react to fire by thawing, or shatter when struck.
  • 暗闇 (くらやみ): Darkness. Typically lowers accuracy and evasion. Alternately (or additionally), might darken or black out the screen, hindering the player's view, particularly in games with an action component. Sometimes abbreviated using either of the two kanji.
  • ブラインド: Blind. An alternate term for what's more commonly called 暗闇.
  • 沈黙 (ちんもく): Silence. Typically prevents spell usage. Sometimes abbreviated as 黙.
  • 封印 (ふういん): Sealed. Typically prevents spell or skill usage. Sometimes abbreviated as 封.
  • 混乱 (こんらん): Confusion. Typically causes uncontrollable random actions. Might reverse or scramble controls in a game with an action component. Sometimes abbreviated using either kanji, but I think 乱 is the more common one.
  • 呪い (のろい): Cursed. Typically impedes combat ability somehow, such as by applying a penalty to stats.
  • ゾンビ: Zombie. May be weakened, uncontrollable, or other effects, depending on the game.
  • 無敵 (むてき): Invulnerable.

Terms Related to Targeting

  • 相手 (あいて): Roughly "the other party". Usually means an enemy in a combat context.
  • 敵 (てき): Enemy/enemies
  • 味方 (みかた): Ally/allies
  • 仲間 (なかま): Teammate(s)
  • 自分 (じぶん), 本人 (ほんにん): Self
  • 使用した人 (しようしたひと): User
  • 一体 or 1体 (いったい), 単体 (たんたい): Single
  • 一匹 or 1匹 (いっぴき): Single (normally animal or monster)
  • 一人 or 1人 (ひとり): Single (person)
  • 複数 (ふくすう): Multiple
  • 全体 (ぜんたい), 全員 (ぜんいん), 全て (すべて): All
  • 敵・味方全体 (てき・みかたぜんたい), 敵味方全て (てきみかたすべて), and similar: All allies and enemies

This isn't meant to be a comprehensive list, but feel free to suggest additions and revisions, or to request information about other terms you may have seen on status screens.

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