What does smurf mean in video games? Origin of the name and reason

If you play a competitive online video game and regularly communicate with other people, you’ll probably hear the term “smurfer.” It will often be used in case someone accuses another player by saying “this player is a smurf” or “they are smurfing”. What exactly does that mean, and why is it called a smurf?

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What is a smurf in online video games?

A smurf is when a high ranked player creates a new account so they can play against lower level players without losing their main account progress. Some people want to play the game against a less skilled part of the gaming community to get easy wins. Others create a smurf account so their ranked matchmaking doesn’t take as long as it does at the highest level. This type of behavior is most common in games like Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege, and really any other type of competitive game with a ranked ladder system.

However, it’s not just the best players who smurf. Mid-level players are known to create a smurf count and deliberately throw or lose games, so they would be placed at the very bottom of the competitive ladder where they could begin to dominate.

Smurfing is one of the most controversial practices around online games. Obviously, this is bad for less skilled players who want to play against someone at their level. On the other hand, some developers allow players to smurf so that they can try new in-game methods without losing their main account progress. It depends on the game you are playing and if the developers support it. Some games will ban you if you are caught smurfing.

Where does the term smurf come from?

The smurf started in the 1990s in Warcraft II. Two players with the usernames Shlongor and Warp were so good at the game that whenever others saw their names in a lobby, they would walk away and not play against them. Matchmaking was not present, so finding lobbies created by other players was the only way to play. Instead of constantly making people leave when they entered the lobby, they created new accounts with the names “PapaSmurf” and “Smurfette”. And that’s how smurf became a term. Since then it has spread to a much larger scale of online gaming.

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