The term "camping" initially comes from games in the first person shooter genre, with a slightly different meaning than the term used in the Super Smash Bros. series. In these games, when a player "camps", they stand in one spot where other players cannot easily counterattack them, and wait for opponents to come by. Camping can be compounded with other outside factors; "weapon camping" involves camping next to a powerful weapon, allowing for easy kills and an effectively infinite stockpile of ammunition. The tactic of camping, however, is generally frowned upon in these communities, though there exists considerable debate over its legitimacy as a tactic.
Although initially limited to first person shooters, the term later spread to other games. In fighting games, the term "camping" later became an alternative name to "turtling", where the player constantly guards against attacks in the corner of the screen, attacking only when the opponent is vulnerable.
In the Super Smash Bros. series
In the Smash Bros. games, camping can have several purposes:
While generally disliked in comparison to aggressive fighting, camping is considered a vital aspect of competitive Smash, especially in Brawl. The ability to camp, as well as break through opposing camping, has a major influence on a character's competitive success. Falco, for example, has been a perpetual top tier character in both Melee and Brawl, due largely to his ability to outcamp nearly every other character in each game. Ganondorf, on the other hand, is considered one of the worst characters in Brawl, in large part due to his inability to outcamp any other character, as well as the extreme difficulty he has in overcoming opposing camping.
It is possible to camp in the Subspace Emissary by avoiding close-range combat and simply firing projectiles into enemies, staying out of range of the army's footsoldiers, but the game discourages it by making most enemies resist projectiles.
Types of camping
While camping is the general action of keeping away from the opponent, there are various methods to camping.
The most common form of camping, projectile camping is the act of camping while utilising projectiles to keep the opponent away. Unlike other methods of camping, there are many characters who are incapable of utilising this method of camping, due to the obvious lack of a projectile attack, or possessing a projectile that has too short a range and/or too much start-up/ending lag to be campable with (such as Bowser with Fire Breath). While it is feasible to projectile camp with any projectile, faster projectiles, and those that are transcendent, are typically more effective at keeping the opponent away. Large, flat stages with little or no platforms are also typically the most effective stages to projectile camp on (Final Destination being a particularly controversial example). Examples of characters that are excellent at projectile camping include Falco and Olimar, who possess very fast projectiles that rack up damage quickly, the former being able to block oncoming projectiles as well with his down-special.
Unlike other forms of camping, projectile camping is rarely done with the intention of timing the opponent out or gaining easy KOs. Instead, it is typically done to force the opponent to approach, as unless the opponent is in possession of an effective reflector or a more effective projectile, they will continue to sustain damage while the camping player doesn't. Projectile camping is also the only form of camping that can be practical in even or losing situations if the opponent refuses to approach, as it is feasible to rack up enough damage through projectiles to regain a lost lead and force the opponent to approach.
Air camping is the act of staying away from the opponent in the air, which is typically utilised by characters capable of keeping themselves in the air for extended periods while being able to effectively defend themselves. While it is possible for any character to try air camping, it is a practical method of camping for few characters. Superior air mobility, slow falling speed, multiple or high-reaching jumps, and fast aerials with sufficient reach/hitboxes to keep opponents away, are necessary attributes a character must have to be able to air camp effectively. Jigglypuff (who excelled at all the aforementioned attributes more than any other character in Melee), Meta Knight (who, despite having poor aerial mobility, has access to multiple jumps and an incredibly quick down aerial with great reach, which allows him to keep opponents away in the air) and Wario (whose incredible air mobility and fast aerials, with long lasting hitboxes, allows him to be difficult to catch in the air) are the most prominent examples of characters who utilise air camping in the Smash Bros. series.
Platform camping is the act of staying away from the opponent, by utilising elevated platforms. To platform camp, a player waits on an elevated platform, and hops from platform to platform as the opponent approaches. Platform camping is the most accessible form of camping, as essentially every character is capable of utilising it in a practical manner, though characters possessing the same attributes that benefit air camping (with faster falling speed instead) are more effective. However, how effective platform camping can be is largely dependent on the stage, with it being a very accessible tactic on stages with a plentiful elevated platform setup (such as Battlefield), while being impossible to utilise on stages that lack such platforms (such as Final Destination).
When combined with air camping, or projectile camping for a few characters with access to explosives that can hit opponents below platforms (such as Snake and Link), it can be especially effective for running time out. Platform camping alone, however, is typically ineffective, and is instead usually done against characters that have access to a dangerous chain throw (such as the Ice Climbers and King Dedede), as staying on the platforms will help keep the player from being grabbed.
Main article: Planking
Planking is a form of camping that abuses the invincibility of stage ledges. It refers to repeatedly dropping off the ledge and grabbing it again, gaining protection given from the invincibility frames obtained from grabbing the ledge. Planking is possible in three of the Smash Bros. games: 64, Melee, and Brawl. Note that in SSB4, invincibility can only be obtained once the ledge of the stage and that after the second time, it will no longer invincible. Ultimate further reduced its viability by introducing a flat limit on the number of edgegrabs that can be made in a row without landing on solid ground.
Circle camping, a form of camping that can be unbeatable when it can be utilised by the right character, is when a player constantly flees from their opponent, by going around a certain stage section that prevents the opponent from intercepting them, thus running away around a "circle". Every character can utilise circle camping if the stage allows it, though how effective it is dependent on how fast they and their opponent can traverse the stage. Depending on the stage design, and if the fleeing character is fast enough, the opponent may never be able to reach the fleeing character, as the opponent's character is not fast enough to catch them in a straight chase, and the stage design prevents the opponent from intercepting the fleeing character. Because of this, stages whose design enable possible circle camping are nearly always universally banned. Otherwise, very fast-moving characters, such as Fox and Sonic, would be able to utilise game-breaking camping on these stages, and be nearly unbeatable by the majority of the cast.
A prominent example of a stage that enables circle camping is Spear Pillar, where a player can run away from the opponent into the underground area, and if the opponent tries to chase them in the underground area, the player can run out the other side and onto the top area of the stage, which can repeat until time runs out if the fleeing player does not make a mistake (it is possible for the Pokémon serving as the stage hazard to break the camping, but this is rare and can be considered cheap in its own right). Temple is also notorious for allowing circle camping.
Pipe camping is the act of warping from one end of a warp pipe to the other repeatedly in Mushroom Kingdom (SSB) in Smash 64.