Where does the term ‘skill issue’ come from? What does it mean?

Where does the term ‘skill issue’ come from? What does it mean?

“Skill issue” is a phrase that originated in the gaming community and has now made its way to TikTok, where its meaning has evolved into more of a meme.

You can take the phrase literally — to imply that a gamer is having trouble accomplishing a specific task in a game because of a lack of a specific skill — or more sarcastically, like if a player’s game controller died, so their losing the game was completely out of their control, their co-player would joke, “That’s too bad, sounds like a skill issue.”

The sarcastic implication of the phrase is how it’s now trending on TikTok to describe a situation out of someone’s control or someone else’s laissez-faire reaction.

Where did the ‘skill issue’ phrase come from?

The origin of the phrase is not entirely clear. A 2021 Reddit thread claims that the phrase originated in 2020 from someone who said it during a “smash tourney.”

Another 2022 Reddit thread claimed the phrase evolved from “actual trash talk” to its now more ironic meaning.

“It was pretty commonly used on twitch early 2020 as actual trash talk but now we’re in the ironic usage era of the phrase so you’re more likely to see it used now when tied to luck based events,” Saucemister wrote.

Redditors also claimed that using the phrase in the gaming world now has led to shutting down opportunities for valid criticism or people not getting help when they genuinely need it.

“Ngl I agree but mostly because it just devaules the actual term,” wrote winterman666. “Whenever you see it, you don’t really think about an actual skill issue, you just think it’s a meme. In a way I guess it’s fine cause it makes it less toxic but to me it just kinda loses its meaning.”

How is TikTok using ‘skill issue’?

Somewhere between being used in the literal sense and now in a more ironic way, the phrase originally appeared in typical meme format before it evolved into today’s TikTok video formats.

TikTokers are now joking about “skill issues” in response to events or situations outside the gaming world.

The ability to understand exactly how and when to employ the skill issue phrase is also, and somewhat ironically, sometimes a skill issue itself, as demonstrated by influencer Gigi Peache (@gigi.peache).

One commenter got really meta with it: “Skill issue to understand (skill issue).”

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