Geek Trivia

In Video Games Temporary Bonuses Are Referred To As?

Power Ups
In Early America, What Kind Of Entertainment Was A "Mud Show"?

Answer: Buffs

In numerous video games from complex Japanese Role Playing Games (JPRGs) to simple racing games, there is the widespread phenomena known as a buff.

This video game construct is a type of status effect modifier that temporarily gives the player some sort of benefit. It doesn’t matter what the benefit is as long as it is temporary in nature. Buffs can take the form of potions (where the player gains some ability), stacked kills (where if the player beats X number of enemies in a row, they get some sort of combo bonus), or any other benefit to the player that has a limited window of use. A well known and iconic example of a buff comes from the Nintendo universe and Super Mario franchise where invincibility stars render the player impervious to damage for a short period of time.

The opposite of a buff is, you guessed it, a negative status effect modifier that hurts the player. Debuffs can take any form that involves a temporary effect that makes game play more difficult for the player; poison that dims the player’s vision, freezing effects that slow the player’s movement, and draining of a player’s health capacity are all common debuff effects.

Finally, buffs are different from power-ups in that power-ups are not time-based. To return to the Super Mario example, the Fire Flower gives Mario the ability to shoot fireballs. Because this ability is only lost if Mario is injured or killed, it is considered a power-up and not, like the time-based invincibility star, a buff.

The terms buff and debuff were popularized by the rise of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) as gamers needed a succinct and easy way to communicate that something was (or gave) a temporary status effect modifier to the player.