What is – A Buff

Posted by John Jackson September 4, 2019 in ADVICEEsports

Following from our last piece ‘What is – A Nerf’ we’re going to be delving into exactly what a buff is, and why it’s even called that in the first place! Now, despite having spent a considerable amount of time researching this, it’s incredibly hard to pin down an exact time and place that the word ‘Buff’ was introduced to the gaming world. There is some strong evidence to support that it was adopted by gamers widely following the release of ‘Everquest’ in 1999. Below is a quote from an Everquest player in a forum.

“I first heard the word ‘buff’ while playing Everquest. There was a low level spell which would increase the strength stat. When the spell was applied, there was an icon of a big, bulging bicep on your screen. Some players said ‘I will buff you up’ or some reference like that while  casting it in the first weeks since the game’s release.”

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I think it would be fair to pin-point this moment as the growth and eventual normalisation of its use in gaming but I definitely think that the term was used well before this. Now that we’ve somewhat established the origins, let’s look at what exactly it means! So, in non-gaming terms if you were to ‘buff’ something you would be improving its appearance, alongside this ‘getting buff’ is also widely used terminology to describe becoming stronger. This translates pretty well into the gaming world with buff being used to describe increases in power of characters, items, bosses and all that other stuff.

With all that in mind it’s again important to note that besides the obvious connections between buffing outside of gaming and the term used so often now in patch-notes there is very little recorded history with the use of the term in gaming that explains where exactly it came from and why it was used over something else.

Thanks for reading, and may your mains be blessed with many buffs!(Unless you’re overpowered!)

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John Jackson
John Jackson, also known as SlayerJohn, leads Esports Wales with passion and vision. As a seasoned esports enthusiast, John's leadership drives innovation and growth within Wales' gaming community. Follow his journey and insights on X(Twitter) @JohnJackson750 and connect on LinkedIn John Jackson.