From Warcraft to Apex Legends, the history of ‘smurfing’ in video games

The term “Smurfing”, in the context of online multiplayer gaming, has virtually nothing to do with the classic 1980s cartoon. Instead, people use the term Smurf to describe the act of a High level player creating an alternate account in order to play at lower levels – and sometimes to dominate the competition. Smurf accounts are created for a variety of reasons, from players wanting to play with lower level friends to testing new play strategies.


The ethics of the Smurf are often debated in the gaming community. Some games like Fortnite and Dota 2 completely ban players caught in the act of Smurf. Other games like League of Legends and Monitoring make the Smurf harder in the first place. As online multiplayer games become more accessible and ambitious, smurf is becoming more and more prevalent. However, this is not a new phenomenon.

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How the smurf evolved

Halo Combat Evolved 2001 Master Chief

In 1996, Warcraft 2 players Geoff “Shlongor” Frazier and Greg “Warp” Boyko have become well known in the community for their talent, beating the vast majority of their opponents. As word spread about these players, more Warcraft 2 fans withdrew from matchmaking when they saw the infamous usernames, which prevented strong players from playing the game. To combat this, the duo created brand new alternate accounts with usernames. different screen and dominated unsuspecting competitors. The term Smurf was coined from their alternate usernames: PapaSmurf and Smurfette.

By the late 1990s, the Smurf was a concept that a variety of gamers were familiar with. The term even appeared in a Warcraft glossary which defines the Smurf as “A slang term invented by Warp!” In 2004, the term started appearing on all websites such as Urban Dictionary after the release of Halo 2.

Halo 2 had a revolutionary online matchmaking system that implemented ranked play. With the game’s algorithm, players would compete against others with a similar skill level. This skill level was determined by a system of players winning or losing points based on the end result of a given round, shifting their rank higher for wins and lower for losses. This competitive in-game matchmaking system set a precedent for more modern games like Monitoring, and continues to be the basis for many online games.

Ranking can be extremely beneficial for lower level players, allowing them to play with other newbies rather than being thrown straight into the ring with experienced players. It’s also easy to operate, as many systems (especially older ones) had no way of knowing if the accounts were Smurfs or not. Many fans and game studios agree that smurfing is a practice that can be incredibly harmful to gamers. New players in particular can face a huge barrier to entry when trying out a game if all of their opponents are experienced people who want to take out newbies for fun.

In recent years, players have seen waves of Smurf appear in newer games, resulting in a ban on Fortnite. Players from other Royal Battles like Apex Legends and valiant often ask developers to crack down on Smurf accounts as well, and although Respawn Entertainment has commented on this possibility, Smurf accounts in the majority of games are acceptable as far as the rules of the game are concerned. While players can technically smurf in games. games and not getting into trouble, they can end up facing a lot of hate from other players if they do.

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