I'm talking about RPG mechanics, specifically about items which are commonly called powerups in arcade games.

Once your character picks up these special usable items, they don't go in the inventory slot, but instead are immediately used.


A notable example is the Prince of Persia potions which, when drunk, give your prince more hearts (permanently increases total health).

How are these items called? Does "powerups" suffice? How about the negative items? "powerdowns?"

  • 1
    We can tell you what those types of items are generally called, but we can't tell you what to name them in your own game.
    – Frank
    Oct 21, 2014 at 12:34
  • I thought I was asking about Game mechanics and terminology. Does my question becomes on-topic, when references to gamedev are removed?
    – Howie
    Oct 21, 2014 at 18:12
  • Have you considered "consumable"?
    – Schism
    Oct 21, 2014 at 23:23
  • "Consumable" seems to convey information that the character can eat/drink it (at least to me, anyway). You probably can't consume a golden boot?
    – Howie
    Oct 22, 2014 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


These items are usually known as power-ups or buffs, depending on the situation.

In many arcade and older style games they are known as power-ups and are usually picked up during play, but in other game spaces(MMOs and the like) they are known as buffs, and are used with item or ability.

Negatives effects are pretty much the opposite naming. Power-downs (used very rarely and only in arcade and old games) and debuffs used everywhere else.

  • Yes, i guess buff is the worh @Howie is searching for. As for negative buffs, it is hard to say since it hardly happens that there are any kind of negative drops
    – Jubatus
    Oct 21, 2014 at 12:28
  • 3
    Negative buffs are commonly called debuffs. An example for those would be poisons or freeze effects.
    – SBoss
    Oct 21, 2014 at 13:09
  • 2
    A consumable perhaps?
    – Neon1024
    Oct 21, 2014 at 13:54

I would normally go with 'powerup', as (in my mind), 'buff' or 'debuff' usually refers to a status effect of some sort that doesn't necessarily involve picking anything up. 'Pickup' might also be an effect-neutral term that fits what you're looking for.

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