In computer gaming, a headshot is the projectile-induced injury to the head of an enemy, often resulting in increased damage or instant death. It is most often attempted in sniping.


Unreal Tournament, Call of Duty series, and Halo reward players for headshots by allowing such a shot to inflict more than the normal amount of damage, usually proving lethal. In 'Counter-Strike a normal bullet from an assault rifle or SMG can produce anything up to 50HP damage on an opponent leaving them with 50HP, whereas a headshot can produce anything up to 150HP damage, and in cases with the Accuracy International AWP Sniper Rifle, a player can score well over 400HP damage with a single headshot. In multiplayer Delta Force 2 and other games in NovaLogic's Delta Force series, shooting an opponent in the head will score double points, due to the increased difficulty of the shot. Many boss fights in the Syphon Filter series require headshots to be defeated as they are usually wearing body armor, though any person can receive one -- even the main character. Gears of War also allows instant kills from headshots. When doing so, it is extremely graphic in comparison to some other games (the head gets blown off). Similarly, in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, scoring a headshot on an enemy character will leave a huge hole in the skull, leaving the brain exposed, as well leaving the A.I.'s face covered in blood. Sometimes, doing this will cause the player's camera to zoom in and slow down, showing (very graphically) the blood flying in the air and the bullet going through the enemy's head. Scoring a headshot with a sniper rifle in the game may even blow the top part of the enemy's head clean off, leaving nothing but the bottom part of the head.

Rarely, players will score a long streak of headshots, either through a phenomenal display of skill or through luck. One of the higher displays of skill is in attaining multiple headshots with a sniper rifle, since the difficulty of tracking a moving target through a scope and scoring a headshot requires much finesse. Due to this, such an extraordinary feat is often attributed to cheating. This accusation originates from programs or modified game files known as 'aimbots', which permit players to instantly score headshots upon seeing a target. Additionally, some weapons in games are dubbed as "headshot machines" due to their recoil pattern having the innate effect of rising the point of impact up towards the head after a burst of fire.

Many games also have specific "death animations" to signify a headshot such as the popular Halo: Combat Evolved, where a player will spin and fall to the ground. Many other games feature the head exploding or being torn apart such as Conker: Live & Reloaded and Gears of War (in the latter, the head is ripped apart in a very exaggerated explosion of gibs) or other similar signs to show that a headshot has been performed, such as flames surrounding the head in Unreal Tournament 2004. In Urban Dead, zombie hunters can buy the "headshot" skill to incapacitate the zombie players they kill. In most games featuring ragdoll physics animation, a headshot will result in an instant ragdoll effect, simulating the complete loss of brain input to the body, causing the body to react in a ragdoll movement.

In Team Fortress 2, the only class capable of inflicting a headshot is the Sniper. Though other classes can shoot at the head, only one with the Sniper Rifle will register as an actual headshot. Players who are headshot by a Sniper will take triple the damage the shot would do to the body, and if killed, be launched several feet from the shot. An additional point is given on top of the kill for the headshot. Other classes can score a "Critical Hit" or even several, but this is not related to a headshot, rather it is awarded based on a background calculation that takes into account damage caused and style of play. The stylized models in the game allow for different classes to have markedly different-sized heads, making a headshot on the already slow-moving Heavy much easier to achieve than a Headshot on the fast-moving, small-headed Scout.


The term's use in videogaming circles was increased by its appearance in Unreal Tournament, in which the game's announcer would loudly proclaim "headshot!" whenever one was achieved by the player. In 2004, the term was used in an episode of the Pure Pwnage series, wherein the pro gamer FPS_Doug would himself shout "Boom! Headshot!" after scoring a headshot against his opponents.

Many gamers have made simple mods to get the announcer from Unreal Tournament (or FPS_Doug) into other multiplayer games, mostly in Counter-Strike and other Half-Life mods, either due to popularity or the ease of doing so. The game Timesplitters: Future Perfect has the option to switch on a "commentator" during death matches who will also use this phrase.

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