I play almost exclusively competitive shooters and I always wear a headset, so the only gaming sounds you’d hear if you walked past my apartment window would be the piercing shrieks of my own voice. Without context, the things I yell at games like Warzone 2.0 and Halo Infinite would still make sense to the average passerby (“he’s up there” or “sniper, watch out!”). Overwatch 2, however, is a different animal. The slang Blizzard’s hero shooters have given rise to is so colorful, so strange, so utterly horrifying at times, that any ordinary person who had the misfortune of hearing me shout it at my TV screen might be tempted to call health and human services.
This shorthand has been cultivated by the Overwatch player base for years, and is so in-depth and bizarre that there are Blizzard forum messages and Reddit posts offering dictionaries to help incoming players parse through the terminology. Competitive shooter shorthand serves a purpose: it conveys information as quickly as possible, avoiding the multi-syllable proper nouns given to places, characters, and abilities.
But whereas the average FPS is rooted in a semblance of reality that’s often only a few degrees removed from the military industrial complex and its commonly used phrases, Overwatch 2 is a bit more fantastical, with characters like a super-smart space gorilla, a mean hamster in a death wheel, and a sexy sniper lady whose skin is blue because a terrorist organization slowed her heart to make her a better assassin.
Because of its bizarre characters and their out-there abilities, Overwatch 2 shorthand often sounds absolutely absurd—and players lean into that absurdity, ensuring that some of the phrases they commonly bark in the thick of the action will raise eyebrows. As a Moira main, I’ve long believed that her yellow healing stream (which can be recharged by draining enemy players with her Biotic Grasp ability) can be commonly referred to as “pee.” That’s why you’ll hear me yell “get into my pee stream” or “I need to suck before I can pee” during almost every match. I’m not the only perverted Moira player who thinks that way, either.
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But there are so many more examples of bizarre Overwatch shorthand that would set off alarm bells for anyone not intimately aware of its inner workings. Since D.Va is a character who fights inside of a giant mech and can only be killed if she ejects herself from that mech before it blows up, players commonly call the de-meched D.Va a “baby D.Va.” As such, phrases like “kill the baby” and “abort the baby” will ring out during matches—the latter of which a Republican Senator would love to uphold as an example of gamer brain rot.
The aforementioned super-smart gorilla, whose name is Winston, is almost never referred to as such. He is, to all of us Overwatch players, simply “monkey,” and when he uses his ultimate ability (Primal Rage), you’ll hear the team he’s up against shouting “Angry monkey! Angry monkey!” to warn each other of his wrath.
Oftentimes Overwatch players will use nicknames for characters’ ultimate abilities, like Reinhardt’s “hammer” instead of Earthshatter, Lucio’s “beat drop” in place of Sound Barrier, or, um, “blowing your load” as a stand-in for Torbjorn’s Molten Core ult, which spews lava all over a designated area. It’s an apt replacement.
While every game has its own shorthand, there is something uniquely twisted and perverted about the slang used in Overwatch 2. In a way, it’s incredibly fitting for a game marked by both diversity in cast and player base as well as toxicity in its competitive modes. Only in Overwatch would the phrase “Can you please throw your balls at Soldier, he’s got aimbot right now” make sense, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.