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What Does AFK Mean In Gaming?

You’re chilling at home on a Friday night. You’re about to log in to World of Warcraft because you’re about to raid Castle Nathria for the nth time. You’re progressing just fine up until your raid leader tells the group to take a break for 10 minutes.

10 minutes later, the raid leader extends the break citing that there were a few people who were AFK. This went on for another twenty more minutes, and players have decided it wasn’t worth it anymore to wait for the others.

And so much like the fate of massively multiplayer online games, your raid group has disbanded and called it quits for the night. All because some people were AFK.

But what is AFK and what does AFK mean in gaming?

What Does AFK Mean In Gaming Community?

If AFK Was a Button What Does AFK Mean In Gaming

The term AFK stands for “Away From Keyboard”, and is used to let people know that you were unavailable for a brief time. AFK simply means that you stepped out and won’t be able to respond to anything up until you return to your workstation.

Regardless of the game you played, you write AFK on chat or voiced out in Discord to let others know that you were unavailable for the time being.

Players would often type “BRB AFK” to let other people know that they were going to do something and that they would be away from keyboard for the meantime. In the middle of a game, when a player would type BRB AFK, it would automatically mean that he or she has to do something urgently (like answer a phone call).

Many players would use the phrase AFK to describe someone idle. If a person has been inactive for a certain period of time, their teammates would automatically tag them as AFK. They’d let the other players know about this so the match ends quickly or vote the AFK player out.

What Does AFK Mean In The Workplaces?

AFK is one of many acronyms that has been adapted into the workplace lingo, even so much as becoming a word in itself (i.e. AFK-ing, or AFK-ed). The meaning of AFK in workplaces is similar to its meaning within the video gaming community.

During the pandemic, employees who worked from home used the phrase a lot more than gamers whenever they were about to leave the vicinity of their workstation or computer for any reason.

When Did AFK Start?

Origin of AFK What Does AFK Mean In Gaming

The phrase AFK was created back in 1989 during an online news bulletin from FidoNews, which included a whole list of acronyms. These different online phrases, like AFK or LOL, made their way into the chat rooms later on. Nowadays, AFK and other acronyms have been adopted into the video game community.

AFK And Online Games

Online games, whether played by console players or PC players, have existed as early as the 1990s. These were the early days of the uses of Internet acronyms, such as AFK, LOL, and so on, into the video game world.

Unfortunately, there was no official record as to when these phrases were first actually used, or what games were even played during that time. If a player was not playing, or was not moving at all, he or she would be tagged as AFK. An AFK player was often more of an annoyance than anything else.

Some video games would send out system messages to these AFK players to let them know that they were still playing, in case the player was alt-tabbed or was viewing a different window. Most gaming communities, such as WoW or League of Legends, frown upon AFKing in the middle of something important. Handful of gaming publishers would often punish players for intentionally AFKing in the middle of the game, and allowed players to report these perpetrators.

Some common examples of how to use the AFK phrase are:

  • I need to feed the dog. AFK for 10 minutes.
  • Got a phone call. AFKing for a bit.
  • Going out to get something. AFK.
  • Stepping away from keyboard for a quick break, be right back.

What Did Among Us Have Anything To Do With AFK?

Among Us What Does AFK Mean In Gaming

The term AFK suddenly gained a resurgence of popularity after it was commonly meme’d out by Among Us players. Among Us became one of the top games back in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Among Us’ premise is simple. You and other teammates figure out which one of you is the impostor, whose main goal is to kill the rest everyone. In a group of ten players, two were dubbed as Impostors, and the rest played as Crewmates. Among Us gamers did not know who were crewmates or imposters, so the entirety of a round is spent on guessing who’s who.

The acronym suddenly became popular because a lot of people didn’t know the meaning. And with Among Us, the meaning was still the same, which was Away from Keyboard. People typed AFK into their chat box, indicating that they were taking a break.

However, smart imposters would often pretend to be AFK and killed off players. They’d stand over their body and wait for someone to report them. When a dead body is reported, the imposter wouldn’t talk or pretend to just walk in.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.