You might have probably seen AFK before, it might be sent by a fellow gamer who took a bathroom break and sent a message that said, “brb AFK.” You might also have spotted this term thrown around in online office environments. This article will explain what is the meaning of AFK, and how you can use it.
What does AFK mean?
AFK is short for “away from the keyboard.” It indicates that the user who has typed it has left their computer/device and temporarily won’t be able to respond to messages. It can also be used to indicate the user has gone offline entirely.
Usually, when someone types ‘AFK” they are meaning that they’ll be back shortly. Few everyday situations where you can use AFK are when you are taking a restroom or a scheduled break, or if you are answering the door. AFK is also commonly used with “BRB” (be right back). So, you can spot messages that say “brb AFK” often.
When AFK is used to describe someone else. The meaning is that person is inactive or offline. If you state that someone is AFK, you might not have any idea when or if they’re coming back.
Where did AFK come from?
Like the majority of informal internet acronyms, AFK originated in online IRC chatrooms in the 1980-90s. People used AFK to let others in a chatroom know that they would be away from the computer. This acronym was often used to prevent those they were chatting with from logging off.
Currently, you can of course message someone and expect a reply at any time, however, in the past people didn’t leave their computers on all day, nor were they connected to the internet continuously. That is why letting someone know you would be AFK was considered a polite gesture.
When Instant Messaging apps, such as AIM and Yahoo Messenger were released, the apps allowed people to include a status under their usernames that indicated their current mood/situation. People often used “AFK” as their status, which then became synonymous with the users being busy.
The oldest entry for AFK on Urban Dictionary was made in 2002, it was defined as “away from the keyboard.” Since then, it has become a prevalent internet term, thanks to the rise of gaming communities.
What does AFK mean in gaming?
AFK gained widespread popularity when people began using it in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games MMORPGs for short, for example, World of Warcraft.
However, unlike in old chatrooms, in gaming, AFK is often used to describe players who are inactive or who are not currently playing. For example, if someone’s in-game avatar remains frozen for a while, another player may say that the person is AFK, to signify his inactiveness. Suddenly going AFK in-game could be very damaging for the team and the game experience, especially if someone does not indicate beforehand that they need to log off.
AFK players cause a significant amount of frustration for many gamers, and rightfully so. Especially in team-based, competitive MMOs, like Dota 2, Overwatch, or Valorant, as teams with players who suddenly become inactive succumb to severe disadvantages. Sudden disappearance may even lead a team to have to quit a match.
This is the reason why many games have systems that include penalties/playing restrictions; they are intended to dissuade players from suddenly going AFK and hurting the game experience for other gamers.
AFK is also widely used among gamers during live streams on Twitch, if someone is live streaming and leaves their computer, a notification is often placed on their screen to indicate that they are AFK. The people in the live chat will inform anyone new joiner that the streamer is AFK.
How to Use AFK?
As AFK is a casual internet term, it is advised you avoid using it in professional situations. Few synonyms you can use for a professional setting instead of AFK are inactive, offline, or logged-off.
If you wish to use it in casual online chats, below we have given a few examples of AFK in action:
- “Going AFK. Be back in ten.”
- “Bro, don’t suddenly go AFK, because you might get a temporary ban from the game.”
- “I think Player 5 is AFK. Should we surrender this match?”
- “Bernoulli went AFK to attend the door.”
If you liked this article (or if it helped at all), leave a comment below or share it with friends, so they can also know What Does AFK Mean, and How Do I Use It?