Endgame Moves: The History of the GG

  • Amelia Savery, Blizzard Entertainment

At the beginning of the year, we spent a week examining the early game of Blizzard esports with our Opening Moves series. We followed that up with Midgame Moves in July. Now, as 2018 comes to a close, we’re going take a magnifying glass to the late game in our Endgame Moves series.

It’s something that by now most of us don’t even think about until it doesn’t happen how we expect.

We sigh, accept our loss, type gg into the chat, then exit the game, grumbling as we load up the replay—just as we type gg in the chat as we roll over our opponent in response to their gg.

But sometimes, that’s not how it goes. Sometimes, when you’re on the back foot in a match, your opponent will type gg as a way of further exerting their in-game dominance. This is referred to as the “offensive gg,” which is very bad manner*. Sometimes, when you’re winning a match, your opponent will leave without typing gg at all. This robs you of your chance to gg back at your defeated opponent—very respectful, very good manner—and leaves you with the impression that your play may have caused someone to ragequit.

Which, let’s be honest, is not the worst.

“While gg may on paper stand for ‘good game,’ its true meaning transcends that,” said former pro, commentator, and StarCraft II streamer Paulo “CatZ’ Vizcarra. “In my opinion, gg is a nod of respect to your opponent who, at the very least, shares your interest in StarCraft. It's a handshake, a gentle bow, a simple bump of the gloves after the fight.”

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So, where did this end-ame ritual come from? Preliminary research suggests that the gg began in online chess in the late 1990s and spread rapidly throughout many popular online games. For StarCraft, though, it became ingrained into the narrative of how every game plays out—hit the play button, set your control groups, carry out the game, gg no matter the outcome, repeat; like breathing. The two small, unassuming, repeating characters convey more than two letters probably ever could anywhere else—offline or online.

Win or lose, no matter your race, no matter where you are in the world, the simple act of typing gg is a signal of being part of the same community. “We may approach the game differently, have different goals and aspirations, we may view winning and losing differently, we may be fueled and motivated differently,” explained CatZ, “but gg does a good job of offering closure as we exit the battlefield.”

Gg conveys all endgame emotions, from being entered with a flourish as your tear through your opponents’ defenses to being punched into your keyboard angrily as you curse yourself for falling behind on your upgrades. “I imagine if I had to stop to unwrap each gg, mine would most often mean something like ‘Thank you for the game, I'll see you around,’" said CatZ, before adding, “a few would mean ‘You [expletive].’”

Thank you for joining us for the Endgame Moves series this week! Be sure to check out the previous articles in this series—Identifying the EndgameDestroying the TurtleThe Base Trade, and Analyzing Your Replays—and remember to gg! We’re all in this together, after all.

*”Good manner” is the same as “good manners,” only without the s. If someone is a good sport and a nice person, that person will often be described as “good manner.” Alternatively, someone who is toxic (or a Terran player floating their buildings to corners, refusing to leave when defeated) is known as having “bad manner.”