What Does “Glass Cannon” mean in Gaming?


In gaming terminology, ‘glass cannon’ refers to a character or unit with high offensive capabilities but low defense. The term is a metaphor that captures the essence of these characters – as potent in attack as a cannon, yet as fragile as glass when it comes to defense.

In the world of gaming, there are many terms and jargon that players need to familiarize themselves with to fully enjoy the experience and communicate efficiently with other players. One term that is commonly heard, especially in games involving strategy and combat, is ‘glass cannon.’ What exactly does it mean? Let’s explore this interesting term.

The Definition

In gaming terminology, a ‘glass cannon’ refers to a character, unit, or class in a game that has high offensive power (the ‘cannon’ part) but low defense (the ‘glass’ part). The term is often used in role-playing games (RPGs), strategy games, and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games. The idea is that these characters can deal a lot of damage but are also highly vulnerable, and can be defeated easily if attacked.

Examples in a Sentence

Here’s how you might see ‘glass cannon’ used in gaming conversation:

  1. “That wizard is a glass cannon – he can dish out a lot of damage, but he can’t take much.”
  2. “I played as a glass cannon in that round. I got a lot of kills, but I also died pretty quickly.”

Similar Terms

There are several terms similar to ‘glass cannon’ used across various gaming genres. For instance, ‘Tank’ refers to a character with high defense and low offense, the polar opposite of a glass cannon. ‘DPS‘, short for ‘damage per second’, is a role similar to a glass cannon, emphasizing offensive capabilities. ‘Squishy’ is another term that refers to characters with low defense, though it doesn’t necessarily imply high offensive power.

Pronunciation and Origin

The term ‘glass cannon’ is pronounced as it appears, with the typical pronunciations of ‘glass’ and ‘cannon.’ It’s unknown exactly when and where the term originated, but it’s been a part of gaming vernacular for many years. The term itself is a metaphor, with ‘glass’ representing fragility and ‘cannon’ representing firepower. The idea is to depict a character or unit that can deal a high amount of damage but can’t withstand much in return.

“Glass Cannon” Popularity According to Google Trends

The the below graph from Google Trends highlights the popularity of “Glass Cannon” since 2018:

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