What does "AFK" mean in gaming? Explained


What does AFK stand for in gaming and when is it used?

AFK is an abbreviation for “away from keyboard”, a term that dates all the way back to the early days of the internet. It’s used whenever someone has to step away from their computer or console and indicates that they’re unable to respond to messages or engage in any encounters (like boss fights) until they’re back.

How do I know if someone is AFK?

The easiest way? To ask them. If you don’t receive an answer back, chances are that someone is AFK.

In all seriousness, it’s relatively easy to spot if someone is AFK. If they’re stood still in-game for an extended period of time and not communicating, they’re most likely doing something in the real world. If you’re unsure, drop them a message and see if they answer.

What happens if I go AFK?

This can depend on the game you’re playing. Some games have no AFK-detector, whereas others will put an AFK flag (or similar) next to your character's name.

A lot of newer games tend to kick or log players out after an extended period of inactivity, to prevent people from reaping the rewards of others whilst doing nothing themselves.

Getting kicked for being AFK in competitive games like VALORANT can result in a penalty such as being unable to enter matchmaking for a set period of time and losing your rank.

VALORANT's penalties become more severe if players repeatedly go AFK.

Is going AFK seen as a bad thing?

Not usually. If you’re in a group setting, then it’s always a good idea to let your squad know that you’re going AFK. This way they can wait until you’re back before engaging in any major tasks.

In competitive titles, it is frowned upon to go AFK in the middle of a match. It can negatively impact your team’s success and just makes for a worse experience all around. For that reason, try to have seen to your real-life commitments before you lock in to any competitive match. Your teammates will appreciate you for it.