Camping in computer gaming jargon 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.
In most games, camping is a legitimate style of play. It often proves frustrating, particularly to newer players, as it rewards those who invest a considerable amount of time in the game (which allows them to know the layout of the maps and the best defensive positions); as well as those with very good aim. 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. Those players choosing to camp are playing on the lack of patience in other players, counting on them to come after them first. Most deathmatch-type games have both a time limit and a kill limit. Camping is a strategy centered around taking advantage of the time limit instead of the kill limit. 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 provide 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.
Some games (an example of which would be Day of Defeat, its remake, or Team Fortress 2) 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 kill 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 respawn, thus neutralizing the camper (or at least force him/her to run for his/her life.)
Spawn camping is similar to base raping, another tactic which many players find annoying. It consists of a player (or players) mass attacking bases or spawn points that cannot be captured, killing players before they can react. Although it is similar to spawn camping, base raping is not a form of camping and is often done in an aircraft which often results in damage on a large scale. It is often a tactic many aviators use on Battlefield 2 and is considered as big of a nuissance as spawn camping.
Safeguards have been built into any and all sniper weapons on most shooters. For example, in Halo, a shot from the Sniper Rifle leaves a thick white contrail emanating from the Rifle's barrel that streaks its path through the air, making it easy to see from where the shot came. The Unreal Tournament 2003/2004 Lightning Rifle's high-voltage electric arc is clearly visible and possess a long reload time, while the latter's Sniper Rifle emits a cloud of smoke with each shot, obscuring vision and revealing the sniper's position; on sniping maps such as CTF-Facing Worlds, these heavily hinders enemy snipers while not sniper-camping puts a team in heavy disadvantage; the ChaosUT2: Evolution mod's Chaos Sniper Rifle includes a laser sight which also registers on the target's HUD thus showing where the shot will come while the instant-killing Rocket-Propelled Bullets also leave a trail. Certain games include a "killcam" that shows either the position of the camper or the kill from his/her perspective. In some first-person shooters, when the camper is shot by any weapon, he/she instantly loses the zoom from the rifle, leaving them vulnerable. Sniper rifle ammunition is difficult to find in 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 counter-attack weapons have been used by the campers.
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. To encourage this, some games such as Battlefield 2142 allow dead players to see the positions of remaining players on the map as well as allow dead players to speak. Thus when a team is down to a single player and the single player camps, team members may announce his location to the opposing 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. However, in many games a floating name tag above the player will reveal their real identity.
Another activity that goes by the same name, which is particularly common in Halo is where the enemy team will horde their vehicles and them drive them all in a rush into a chokepoint or the exterior of the enemy spawn and abandon the vehicles there. This is a good tactic in that if enough vehicles are utilised it is near impossible to break out until they are blasted away or are removed. In the meanwhile the other team will take advantage of this by using the vehicles as cover or manning mounted weapons to enhance the blocking effect and increase the time before the vehicle returns to its spawn point.
In round-based games such as Counter-Strike or Call of Duty 2 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 out-of-sight enemy approaching, and then sits and wait for him, that is often regarded as camping although it actually is a form of a tactical attack.
Some class based games also encourage camping - Team Fortress Classic and Team Fortress 2 both have classes specifically suited to camping, the sniper, the pyro, and the engineer. However, they can be used for offensive play as well and often a camping player will fall foul of an enemy grenade, placed in the game to mitigate the advantage the camping players will have. It also features the Spy class which has a dedicated role to killing campers.
In Battlefield 2142, camping is more acceptable, as a "Networked Battlefield" system exists that allows other players to "spot" enemies, highlighting their location on the minimap so that they can be flanked; it also features a range of portable and deployable sensors that likewise locate enemies.
In Unreal Tournament there are several clans dedicated to camp. There are other rules that in most (Team)Deathmatch-based games like no closekilling, no revenge and strict Camping behaviour. Last enforced by useful No-Run-Mods which subtract an amount of health from the runner.
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 respawn. 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 respawn 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 playerbase (as well as many of its critics) jokingly refer to the game as "EverCamp".
The practice of camping in MMORPGs is distasteful to many. 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 respawn 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 40k Based game 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.
Another common game mechanism to prevent camping is the existence of superweapons, powerful attacks which can be unleashed on any part of the map and cannot be defended against. This usually requires construction of a superweapon structure, which forces campers to seek out and destroy the structure. Many games also have artillery units which have longer range than defensive structures, forcing the camper to deal with the threat. For example, in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, there are many options available to force out camping players:
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. By the time opposing players have gathered enough strength to attack with a chance of victory, the turtler a) will have such powerful defenses as to make attacking futile, or b) will be fully advanced up the tech tree and will have top-level units. 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. However, as with any form of turtling, it tends to be frowned upon.
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.
In Second Life, some property owners will pay small amounts of Linden Dollars to avatars for spending time, or "camping", at their property. The property owners aim at higher search engine rankings and/or hope that the campers will spend money at the property.