In video gaming, Camping describes the practice of a player staying in one area of the game world waiting for enemies or useful objects to appear or to come to the player, rather than actively seeking them out. Players camp in order to gain an advantage over their opponents.
Camping in most games is considered unsocial and is often frowned upon. Among some players, camping is considered tantamount to cheating, especially in deathmatch-type games. The most common reason for this is that if every player camps, there will be no opportunities for players to come into conflict, and thus there will be no game at all. Breaking this deadlock requires some players not to camp, but this means they give up the advantages gained by camping and are often quickly defeated by the players who continue to camp. Camping is also seen as an unfair way of getting an advantage in the form of accumulated resources or a beneficial position.
However, the rise in technology of computer gaming allow the ability for the production of more tactical games or strategic games that account for morale, and increasingly the label is not viewed as derogatory. For example, Capture the Flag and its variants, provides incentive to invade enemy territory, regardless of the risk, since scoring flags is more important than scoring frags. However even in such games, some players may choose to camp to give covering fire for other team members attempting to grab the flag and run back with it. It is comparable to turtling.
Camping is most common in first-person shooters when a player finds a dark corner or hole and hides in that location giving themselves a clear advantage over other players. The position is normally hidden from casual view and is used to ambush or carry out sniper-like attacks on other players. The position chosen is typically a high point that is not easily accessible so that the camper has the advantage of being out of the line of sight of other players and therefore has the time to take careful shots. In fast-paced games like Quake or Unreal Tournament, this is often regarded as an annoying and unsporting practice.
One form of camping, considered by many to be especially reprehensible, is spawn camping, also known as re-spawn or refresh camping. A spawn camping player guards the positions where players are brought into the map when they are just entering the game or when they are revived after being killed ("re-spawn"). In fast-paced games, the camper has the advantage in that they are able to kill players before they have a chance to collect their starting weaponry or even before they get their bearings and sometimes can shoot them in their back every time. Therefore many games have spawn protection system that gives newly spawned player some seconds of invulnerability, resurrects them at the least inhabited area of the map, re-spawns in a random location, or displays spawn campers' locations on a minimap prior to a player spawning, so they are better prepared for the attack and can be found by already spawned players of the opposite team.
Some games (an example of which would be Day of Defeat or its remake) have a method of allowing players to exit spawn points (mostly on team-based games) but not enter them, allowing the newly spawned players a safe haven until they go out into the rest of the map. This does not, however, prevent spawn camping, as some players of the opposing team may camp outside of the spawn point's exit, concealing themselves behind a wall. An example of this can be seen in Day of Defeat: Source's map "dod_anzio," where players can lie prone (making themselves more-or-less invisible to players) directly near the sandbags (one of the three methods of spawn point exit) near the US spawn point (which places them UNDER the players jumping over the sandbags), allowing them to decimate any players leaving the area. A strategy used to combat this (if it arises) is for a victim to lob a fragmentation grenade over the sandbags when they re-spawn, thus neutralizing the camper (or at least force him/her to run for his/her life.)
Another form of camping, typically found in large-scale deathmatch games with large open maps such as Halo, is called sniper camping. A player or group of players each acquire a high-powered, long-range weapon with a scope such as a Sniper Rifle (found in most modern-combat games as well as Halo) or a Rocket Launcher (ditto). The camper(s) go to a spot known as a sniper spot or camping spot. There, the camper has a large view of the game field, as well as ample cover against anti-campers who would attempt to pin down or kill the camper. Sniper camping can be extremely disruptive, as a good camping spot is defined as having a clear view of the enemy's base and thus allows for the mass carnage of spawning and being instantly dropped by a headshot.
Safeguards have been built into any and all sniper weapons on most shooters, most notably Halo. The infamous Sniper Rifle leaves a thick white contrail emanating from the Rifle's barrel that instantly marks the camper like a beacon. Additionally, if the camper is shot by any weapon, he/she instantly loses the zoom from the rifle, leaving them vulnerable. Sniper rifle ammunition is notoriously hard to find in many and most shooters, which both helps and hinders camping. The lack of weapons and ammo reduces campers' numbers, but the few that do camp are much more effective as all of the potential anti-camping weapons have been used by the campers and it is very difficult to get a long-range weapon to counter-camp. Sniper camping can be defeated by two or more players that storm the camp spot and double-team the unsuspecting camper, whose long range weapon is nearly useless in close quarters.
The term Base Camping refers to camping at the base (spawning area or starting area) of one's own team in Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch and other types of games. One would sit in one's team base and wait for the other team to come. Though hiding in one's own team base, especially if done by a large group, makes it easier to survive enemy attacks, it is sometimes criticized. The general acceptance of Base Camping mainly depends on the map, the kind of game played and the rules set by owners of the server. Games in which one team is to defend its base naturally encourage this tactic. In situations where both teams are simply supposed to kill each other, Base Camping is less well accepted. Sometimes Base Camping is also referred to as spawn camping, but this term usually implies camping at the opponent's spawn points.
One situation in Last Man Standing types of games where camping is often used is when one team has a single player remaining while the other team has two or more players still alive. The single player will often camp for periods of play because this enhances their survivability when faced with superior opposition numbers. The other team will usually go into active hunting mode, expecting the single player to be hiding somewhere on the map. This type of camping is more accepted by gamers, because there is a valid reason for the outnumbered player to camp. By convention, when both teams are down to single players only, continued camping is frowned upon and both players are expected to come out and confront each other.
First-person shooters may experience other forms of camping, such as "vehicle camping", "armor camping", or "weapon camping". In many such games, the rarity of particularly valuable equipment (such as tanks, aircraft, or especially powerful guns) is enforced by the game engine imposing a time delay between the time which such an item is taken or used, and the time at which it reappears for other players to use. Campers wait at places where such an item is due to appear in order to guarantee that they, rather than some other players, are the ones who get to make use of it. This causes a problem because, while they are waiting, they are not participating in the rest of the game, thus making it harder for other players to find conflicts or - in a team-based game such as Battlefield 1942 - disadvantaging their team.
In non-team based games, item campers may camp with the intent of denying any other players access to the item, enabling them to use its unique properties to gain an advantage over other players. There is also a type of camping known as "body camping", whereby a player will try to hide themselves inside or behind a dead body, in the hope opponents will mistake them for part of the dead body. This is one form of camping that seems to be frowned upon by nearly every player, and is actually banned in the Call of Duty 2 ClanBase ladders.
Acceptability of camping in first-person shooters
In some more realistic games, such as Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 and Operation Flashpoint, camping is sometimes considered to be a part of the game itself. Some also argue that camping is a premise of war, and is thus essential in order to survive or defeat the opposite team. Spawn camping, however, is generally not regarded as acceptable in informal or public matches as it renders the game unplayable for some who do not take lightly being killed the instant they re-spawn. This is in contrast with some tournament play where it is viewed as part of the game—a consequence of the domination of the losing side. Camping certain locations also applies to games such as America's Army and other tactical shooters where a critical objective or terrain must be guarded.
In round-based games such as Counter-Strike or Call of Duty there has been much debate on what is defending and what is camping. Some players argue that overlooking an area for more than 30 seconds is regarded as camping, while others claim that only the defending team are allowed to stay put as that is regarded as defending and not camping (see base camping, above). Often, camping is confused with tactical decisions. If, for example, a player is supposed to attack but hears an enemy and then sits and wait for him, that is often regarded as camping although it actually is a form of a tactical attack.
One highly contested form of camping appears in Counter-Strike demolition missions. Terrorists may be frowned upon by some by camping near the area where their team has placed the bomb. Conversely, counter-terrorists can be similarly accused by killing the bomb-carrying terrorist and guarding the dropped bomb. The complaints usually come from the opposing team, as it is difficult to approach several camped enemies in one relatively small area to reach the necessary item (and in the counter-terrorist's case, a time constraint that further complicates matters). In both cases, the strategy is sound, as either team leaving the bomb unguarded could cause the other team to defuse/reclaim it, and risk their team's victory.
Online role-playing games
In Massively multi-player online role-playing video games and MUDs, camping is commonly the practice where the camper stays in a location near where non-player characters or monsters spawn or otherwise enter the game world. In some games, these positions are easy to spot and once a player or group of players is capable of establishing their camp, they can gain more rewards with less risk to their player characters. Generally, it is accepted that camping enemies is just the way some games are, and by convention this is respected. There is no official rule granting players exclusive rights to a camp.
As with valuable items in non-MMO games, often particularly significant monsters will be made "rare" via the game engine allowing a long period of time to pass between the monster being defeated by one group of players and it reappearing for another group to fight. Many players, rather than repeatedly returning to an area in the hope of meeting the monster, chose instead to wait in the monster's lair for it to re-spawn. Because of the long periods of time involved - frequently hours or days - this can give rise to absurd situations in which long queues of adventuring parties wait outside a monster's lair for the monster to re-spawn so they can kill it. Players can utilize the information gathered from various Internet sites to identify and wait around the areas of these spawns. Sometimes players sit on these camps for days, waiting for the monster or NPC of interest.
The MMORPG EverQuest was the first game to truly make camping a common and widely accepted part of advancement in online RPGs. When first released, advancement through the game was painstakingly slow for most, requiring many hours of slaying NPCs to advance in level. As a result, players quickly realized that camping in one spot and having a single player, referred to as a "puller" because he or she would leave the group to "pull" an npc monster back to the group, was the most efficient way to gain experience. In fact, the prevalence of camping became so strong in EverQuest that the game's player base (as well as many of its critics) jokingly refer to the game as "EverCamp".
The practice of camping in MMORPGs is distasteful to many, and it is that distaste which has most likely lead to the popularity of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft. While camping is still possible in this game, much more experience and rewards can be had by performing quests, allowing the player to focus on something other than what some consider to be the monotony of camping.
Critics of this system say that it is the long, drawn out camping sessions that have helped build such a strong community in games like EverQuest. With so much idle time, it is surmised that most players will strike up conversations with fellow group and guild members as a way to pass the time, a practice that helps develop bonds.
In some MMORPGS which have PvP (player-versus-player) elements (such as Diablo II and World of Warcraft), "corpse camping" is used to refer to a player repeatedly waiting near the corpse of a player they have killed, in order to attack them again after they re-spawn near their corpse. This is usually considered a dishonorable practice.
Camping can also be applied to real-time and turn-based strategy games, where it is also referred to as turtling. It is the opposite of a rush. Instead of attacking, players put most or all efforts into fortifying defensive and critical positions. Any attempt at attack against these positions is usually unsuccessful; any damage done to the defenses is often repaired or rebuilt before the other player can attack again. The obvious disadvantage is that turtling players often have no resources to invest in an effective offensive force, so they are not as mobile as rushers. As in first-person shooters, this is looked down upon as a rude practice due to the stalemate that often results, with neither side able to gain a victory over the other.
Many strategy games attempt to prevent such camping by forcing players to collect resources outside their positions to build and repair. Because campers are usually unable to defend these areas, opposing players can cut off their source of funds and gradually wear down the defenses without the camper being able to rebuild. Some strategy games are designed to make turtling a poor long-term strategy; eventually, the turtle's enemies have too much map control and too many resources to be held at bay any longer. An excellent example of this is the Warhammer 40,000-based game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War where all resources are taken from strategic and critical points located around the map and turtling results in being massively outnumbered. Careful placement of these points ensures players are always trying to get 1 more point until the forces meet and a battle ensues. Thus in some strategy games, turtling offers great short-term defensive advantage but cedes the initiative and can be seen as a suicidal or desperation tactic, or a hallmark of an inexperienced player. There are also some units in TBS games that are capable of helping to spike on the turtle's guards, such as the MB-5 Rabbit in Nectaris and the Mech in Game Boy Wars 3.
Turtling is not always futile though, especially in games with numerous opponents. A turtling player is unlikely to initiate attacks until mid to late game, normally focusing on advancing up the tech tree and destroying units that attack them. A more active player attacking a turtling player uses resources and units that in most cases would be put to better use against a player who is considered more capable of attacking back and thus a more immediate threat. In this case turtling can be a viable strategy as there is a potential for unhampered research and limited growth while the other players battle amongst themselves, though it will be necessary to go on the offensive and take initiative if the player hopes to capitalize on this.
Waiting screen camping
This type of camping is frequent in ranked games which require all players to be at the same time on certain screen (character selection, weapon selection, etc.). In games where a time limit in such screens is not included, campers can take advantage of the situation and stop playing, leaving their opponents also waiting with no other choice than to wait indefinitely or quit from the game, the last option resulting in an absolute win for the camper. An example of such camping takes place frequently in the character selection of Street Fighter II for Xbox Live Arcade.
In online play for Pro Evolution Soccer 6, at the team selection screen, some players will highlight but not select a weak team to persuade their opponent to select a weak team as well. The player won't select the team, and instead wait for the timer to count down, and suddenly switch and select one of the best teams at the last second. This time-wasting sometimes results in the player getting a big unfair advantage on their unsuspecting opponent.