The Origins of “Nerf”

Whenever people at the forums go on a thread-rampage and shout “unfair”, “imba” or “too strong”. The guys at the community department talk to the guys from the tech department. If both don’t come to conclusions, the easiest way to fix the situation is to NERF the damn thing.

But do you know how and when the word “nerf” came to be?

Here’s an interesing story. In the early 70’s, Parker Brothers (yup, makers of Monopoly) produced a polyurethane ball that can be fired from a gun. NERF, some say, stands for “non-expanding recreational foam”. Since then, there have been a number of Nerf Guns on the market similar to the one below

So, basically, “nerfing” means making a powerful gun (or a bazooka) inefficient by making it fire harmless, rubber balls.

The actual gaming definition of NERF is nerf is “a change to a game that downgrades the power, effectiveness or influence of a particular game element in the attempt to achieve balance”

There are several theorems on nerfing.

“Many nerfs are also done out of the sensibility of “change one feature” vs “change all features”. For example, if “X” is determined to be too powerful, the game designer could balance it by either nerfing X or by increasing the power of everything else in the game. Since the net result is the same (the relative power of X has been decreased), it is generally seen as easier to simply nerf X rather than improve the strength of all other elements.” via Wikipedia

That sounded dorky… but made sense.

Next time you say “Nerf”, you can tell your friends a cool story, ayt?


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