Editorial: Game Names Are Almost Universally Terrible

By Graham Smith on July 22nd, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

This book should exist.

NEW SINGLE PURPOSE CONSULTING FIRM TARGETS GAME INDUSTRY
Don’t Name Your Game That, Ltd. Has One Piece Of Advice And You Can Have It For Free

Bath, EnglandJuly 21, 2014–Don’t Name Your Game That, an internet-based consulting firm today announced that it would lend voice and cheap jokes to the internal screams of followers of game news everywhere. “It’s time to put an end to forgettable, unsearchable, derivative, non-sensical and downright awful names everywhere,” said company founder Dr. Stephen Farts.

Naming things has always been a difficult task, as demonstrated by celebrity-aping baby names, every post-’80s Bond movie, and the Republic of Chad. Yet videogames seem to be failing at it with unprecedented gusto.

“The important thing to note is that this isn’t a criticism of the creators or the games themselves,” said Dr. Farts. “Many of the most exciting or interesting games currently in-development have dumb names.”

Over the course of a press conference interrupted regularly by wailing and gnashing of teeth by the assembled press corp, Dr. Farts outlined a number of examples of these dumb names. We’ve since forgotten or become confused as to the names of those games, but Don’t Name Your Game That were able to forward us a transcript of Dr. Farts remarks for the purposes of writing this release.

Two weeks ago Gearbox, developers of Borderlands, announced a first-person MOBA. It’s called Battleborn and it might be cool.

At this year’s E3 the developers of Dark Souls announced a new game called Bloodborne. It’s by From Software and so it might be cool.

Shortly before E3, in May, Bethesda announced a free-to-play third-person action game called BattleCry. It’s world design is by Viktor Antonov and so it might be cool.

BattleCry. Battleborn. Bloodborne. Made by separate companies and announced in quick succession, these games clearly did not know about one another when the names for each were selected, but it’s representative of a broader issue with the thinking of the industry’s professional Namers Of Things.

This is not a recent problem. We’ve been making fun of Blizzard for some time now – even Blizzard have made fun of Blizzard – for names like Heroes of the Storm, Heart of the Swarm, and Hearthstone.

Does anyone not think Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would have sold better had it not had such a shitty name? What is an Amalur, and what is its reckoning in this context? Kingdoms is just a word for a land ruled by a monarchy. The game name basically translates as “Place of Fantasy Bollocks: Dramatic.”

It could be worse, I suppose.(via)

AAA games are not the only culprit here. “Lichdom: Battlemage” is a thing. Volume, an anticipated indie game by Mike Bithell, doesn’t rank on the first page of search results for the word “Volume”, because of course it doesn’t. Tale Of Tales launched a Kickstarter for a game called Sunset in the same week Failbetter Games released Sunless Sea, and the project ended one week after a game called The Sun At Night passed Greenlight. The Sun At Night is about a platformer about a dog who can fire lasers, by the way.

Some people might over-zealously protect trademarks, but just because others don’t doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to mimic popular naming conventions. The very idea that you’re trying to evoke something extremely successful taints your game, even if it’s a wholly original work in a different genre.

Warface. Divine Divinity (although don’t blame the devs). Metricide is an indie game not to be confused with Magicite, but if you Google it you’ll discover it’s also a medical disinfectant.

Videogames have even begun naming themselves after previous games in the same series. As in: Tomb Raider. The sequel is even called Rise Of The Tomb Raider, which could only have been more predictable and rubbish if they had named it Tomb Raider 2.

I could go on (Doom) and on (Star Citizen, Starbound, Starforge, StarDrive, Star Ruler 2 and Starsector are all games that released within a year of each other) and on.

After going on, Don’t Name Your Game That offered the following advice for how to name your game:

1. Don’t make your game so similar to the name of a dozen other games that people will be regularly confused by which is which. Even though the familiarity might make the type of game identifiable at a glance, you need to differentiate yourself somehow.

2. If your name is short and has multiple meanings, then you are very clever. Probably its having multiple meanings also means that it’s a common word or phrase and that you will struggle to be found via search engines.

3. You might want to use a fantasy or in-fiction word somewhere in your title, to help evoke the type of game. Do not do this to the extent of removing all literal meaning.

4. If at all possible, do not have a subtitle after a colon, otherwise you will incite Don’t Call Your Game That: Vengeance.

5. The words “Battle”, “Star”, “Craft”, “Forge” and “Z” are banned. The phrases “Rise of the”, “Heroes of the”, “Heart of the”, really anything “of the” and “: Origins” similarly so.

6. What is an example of a good name? Here are two. a) Prison Architect. “Prison” is the game’s setting and theme. “Architect” is what you do, while evoking the era of “Tycoon” and “Park” games without outright using them. b) Kerbal Space Progam. “Kerbal” is an in-fiction word, but it evokes the cuteness and friendliness of its setting. “Space Program” is what you do.

7. Seriously it’s not that hard why are you all so bad at this aauuugh

When asked what experience the firm had in naming things, the response was immediate. “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.” said Dr. Farts. “My middle name is Eaton.”

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211 Comments »

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  1. Revolving Ocelot says:

    I worry for you, Graham. :(

    • sebmojo says:

      Divine Divinity is ridiculous but memorable, just like Sins of a Solar Empire (which I’d argue is a great name).

      My current puzzler is why Elite: Dangerous is called VERY GOOD: NOT THAT GOOD.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    No love for Warface?

    By which I mean, why wasn’t that called out some more? It has to be the single most stupid name for a game since I don’t know when.

    Additionally, strategy games tends to have bad names as well:

    Faces or War, Heroes of World War 2, Wargame (AirLandBattle indeed!), Scourge of War, Combat Mission, Men of War, Close Combat and so on and so on.

    I mean, they’re descriptive, yes, and most of the games are good if not great but those titles are just… not very good.

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      You want us to call out Warface some more?

      WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE WARFACE

      I’m so sorry ;_;

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        Wisq says:

        To be fair, Warface has gotten more exposure on RPS by having a bad name than it could’ve by almost any other means. In the comments section, anyway.

    • protorp says:

      You’re very right re. strategy games… e.g. The Operational Art of War: Century of Warfare

      TOAW CoW to its admirers (of which I am very much one, don’t get me wrong).

      • JFS says:

        “Whoa on the Whoas”.

        Yeah and btw, will Don’t Call Your Game That expand towards the fields of music and literature?

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        Stellar Duck says:

        I recently purchased AGEODs Civil War 2. I can appreciate the simplicity of that title. It does what it says on the tin.

        Speaking of AGEOD, Rise of Prussia and Pride of Nations are good titles I think.

        And to finish off: the games I mentioned are all very good I think. Scourge of War in particular is awesome and I’ve gone down the rabbit hole on that one.

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          SuddenSight says:

          Rise of Prussia is decent, but Pride of Nations is awful. There are many things a nation can be proud of, which is it referencing? Plus, it bear some similarity to other titles like Rise of Nations (though that title wasn’t very good either).

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            Stellar Duck says:

            Pride in this context, I’ve always taken as the whole Place in the Sun idea that was abound in that period.

            As in, the nations of the time were prideful and that pride let to wars and shitty colonization. They weren’t proud of anything in particular. Just prideful.

            That’s just my take on it though.

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            SuddenSight says:

            The issue isn’t so much the amount of sense the title makes in context, but how much it tells someone who is just learning of the game. The name sounds generic and confusing to someone who hasn’t heard of it.

            For example, I played “To the Moon” recently and was surprise to learn there is very little space travel in that game. I stayed away from it for a while because the name conjured images of an entirely different game than it was, even after reading reviews. Now, if you’ve played the game the title actually references some pretty emotional events that make me tear up whenever I think about them. But a good title should entice new players and prepare them for the game to be played, not simply make the old players cry.

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            Stellar Duck says:

            Fair enough. Good points.

            I suppose I just never really was in a situation where I wasn’t aware what PoN was and when it was set so I never really thought about that side of it.

            Don’t know how actively AGEOD is seeking new audiences though, so I suppose it may just be that for the audience the name is good. They never struck me as super expansionist when it comes to the user base. If they were they’d sort of the UI. :O

          • Baldanders says:

            Pride of Nations actually used to be called Vainglory of Nations in development, but when Ageod temporarily joined Paradox they forced the shittier name. I like Revolution Under Siege as a title myself.

    • Simes says:

      AirLand Battle may be a dumb name but it’s named after a real thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirLand_Battle

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        Stellar Duck says:

        I’m well aware that it is, but it still is a miserable title. The game is decent though.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Apparently, so’s Warface!

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        FriendlyFire says:

        It’s the capitalization that does it for me. Airland would’ve been less horrible. Air-land even. AirLand? No, just no.

        • Janichsan says:

          You read the Wikipedia article (I think), so thank the US Army for that spelling.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Wargasm still gets my vote for worst game title

      • Acorino says:

        I don’t think so. While gross, Wargasm is actually a memorable name and allows the game to be found easily per search engine. Though, as it turns out, there’s a band of the same name that scores higher in the search results.
        And somehow I feel the perverse title fits the game.

    • Gargenville says:

      WARFACE is actually a great name. Fun to say, too ridiculous to forget or ever confuse with anything, easy to google, what more could you ask for?

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        Stellar Duck says:

        Not even Faces of War?

        Different genre. Similar name.

        And besides, while I may never forget the name it made me not want to bother with the game. Job well done, I guess?

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          Cinek says:

          You confuse WARFACE with Faces of War? Dude… what’s wrong with you?!

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            Stellar Duck says:

            Was that what I said?

            What I said what that the name is not really the only one to use face and war in conjunction.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    Isn’t part of the problem also not being able to put certain words in your name, such as Candy or Saga? Lest some over protective monster corp decide to try and sue your ass off.

    • Ringwraith10 says:

      Unless it’s “Candy Land: The Survival Horror Epic,” I’m not sure there are many games with “candy” in the title that I would be crazy for, anyway. :/

    • Shuck says:

      It’s true, the name-space has been trademarked to Hell and back, and that doesn’t help, but it’s a secondary issue given the limits the namers have already imposed upon themselves.

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      Gap Gen says:

      I think a lot of people in app stores use familiar sounding names to piggyback on the success of other games, since mobile games are a cut-throat environment where you make pennies on a sale and churning games out is the only viable option if you’re not a blockbuster success.

  4. Emeraude says:

    What is wrong with the Republic of Chad ?

  5. bhauck says:

    Come on, you’ve got to offer up some more suggestions for replacement names for that. What exactly should Amalur, for instance, have been called? Do you want to go back to names like “Amalur RPG”? Or “[Better Made-Up Word] RPG”? I’d actually be cool with that, but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.

    • Ringwraith10 says:

      I’ve played the hell out of Kingdoms of Amalur, and yet I’m still not sure what the different “Kingdoms” are and what it’s “Reckoning.” Whenever I tell people about this game, I also find myself embarrassed to try to say the title out loud. I don’t know what its alternate name should be called, but I definitely agree that the name it has is really dumb. Great game, dumb name.

      • bhauck says:

        Sure it’s a nonsense name, I just think names are going to be almost always stupid anyways. I don’t think it’s fair to list a bunch of shit names without even proposing better alternatives.

        • Nixitur says:

          In all honesty, just “Amalur” would have been better.
          Still not great, but better.

          • Gargenville says:

            Less embarrassing but there’s kind of a glut of three-syllable phaentasy games starting with A, like I’ve got three numbered Avernums, Avadon: the Black Fortress and Avernum: Escape From the Pit all crowded into my steam library right below eachother already.

        • JFS says:

          What about Amalur, simply?

          • Ergonomic Cat says:

            I always just call it Amalur anyway. Occasionally kingdoms of Amalur. Never do I add Reckoning.

        • honuk says:

          “Sure it’s a nonsense name, but what’s so bad about it?” he said shortly before jumping into the ocean, never to be seen again.

      • Reginald XVII Archduke of Butts says:

        I personally reckon Amalur should have been called The Fateless One (or maybe, Amalur: The Fateless One). It’s what the PC is known as and sounds bad ass and memorable.

    • Viroso says:

      How about just Amalur? Amalur.

      It doesn’t say much about the game, it doesn’t say anything at all, but at least it doesn’t sound instantly horribly generic like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Plus, it isn’t like Kingdoms of Amalur says much anyway. It’s a game about its world, so why not make the world the title. What do you prefer, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim or just Skyrim?

      • Simes says:

        It suffers from the fact that it was meant as a fund-raiser/tie-in/promotional thing for their MMO, which was going to be called Kingdoms of Amalur. There would even probably have been more than one kingdom in that.

        • Viroso says:

          I guess you’re begging for a bad title if you’re titling the game with thoughts of franchising it. But anyway, the other game wouldn’t need to be called Kingdoms of Amalur. It could just be called Amalur: NAMENAME. Like Legacy of Kain.

  6. Joe The Wizard says:

    Best game title in recent memory? “Papers, Please.”

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      J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      Indeed. It’s basically perfect.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      I’ll see your “Papers, Please.” and raise you a “Drunken Robot Pornography”.

    • noom says:

      I think No Man’s Sky is a rather superb title. Evokes a real frontier feeling, which seems to match perfectly the ethos they’re going for.

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        FriendlyFire says:

        This. I really really like that name.

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        Cinek says:

        Only problem is that each time I read this title I see Ace Combat game in my mind.
        Sorry, but that’s rather awful title for what this game actually is.

    • Zafman says:

      I don’t know about recent memory…But “Rex Nebular And The Cosmic Gender Bender” is freaking timeless!

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      maninahat says:

      Pretty much. You have the pick of the litter with indie titles: Dear Esther, Kentucky Route Zero, The Stanley Parable, Jazz Punk, though Papers, Please is the best – all immediately distinguishable, all somewhat indicative of the game’s content, all could plausibly be a book title (by which I mean “snooty literary fiction book title” rather than the dime a dozen fantasy “Black Blade of Razenhearst Trilogy: The Blood Marble”).

      • pilouuuu says:

        Well those titles alone indicate how indie gaming is so much more successful at making quality and innovative games.

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      choie says:

      I don’t mean to sound like a suck-up, but for me it’s hard to beat “Sir, You Are Being Hunted.” For me, the title immediately invokes the feel of some polite but creepy stranger whispering this warning into your ear, making your teacup clatter to the floor. Oh, and the stranger preferably sounds like Alan Rickman at his most foreboding.

      • teije says:

        That is the best title ever. Paradox titles are pretty evocative too – Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      The subtitle of “Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs” absolutely nails the feeling that game was going for.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Kreeth says:

    Wow, Divine Divinity, the single most utterly witless and offensively stupid game name of all time. One of the reasons I never played the game – if the people making it were such bad writers as to come up with that abomination how could they possibly produce a worthwhile RPG?

    Maybe I should play it now I know it wasn’t them? Does it hold up?

    • Emeraude says:

      Someone didn’t click that link.

      And before people ask: totally representative of executives and executive meddling in any creative/artistic endeavor.

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        J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        Looks like they did read it. Re-read their last line. :-)

        • Emeraude says:

          Sure sign it’s time to get some coffee and breakfast.

          Apologies.

      • frightlever says:

        I do at least agree with him that the name was a reason that I never picked up the game when it first came out, and back then it was feasible to play just about every RPG released in English on PC. Didn’t get it for a couple of years, until it was cheap on Amazon. Well worth it for being pretty much 90% open world with no enemy level scaling.

        I still haven’t started Original Sin but I replayed Divine Divinity up until a game-breaking bug (imp council member, the last I went to recruit, turned on me. I tried the forum fixes but it didn’t work and by then I’d had enough) and Divinity 2 up until the bit on the island, which is just kinda boring. Great games, both of them but I have hundreds of hours of both under my belt already.

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      Foosnark says:

      I recall Divine Divinity being kind of a dull game and also having a major game-breaking quest bug that turned me away from it.

      I’m really loving Divinity: Original Sin though.

      • teije says:

        Great game. But stupid title really. Doesn’t mean anything or describe the game whatsoever.

  8. nightmaniac says:

    I have an idea of name for a game : It should be called :

    Rise Of The Battlecraft Star-Forge Z : Origins : The Reckoning

    • Laurentius says:

      If i amy be so bold , wouldn’t be beter with a little change like that :

      Rise Of The Battlecraft Star-Forge : Origins : The Reckoning of DoomZ

    • Fenix says:

      Needs some Chronicles action in there, but otherwise, good try

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    Ham Solo says:

    BATTLEDUTY MODERN QUARTERS 3 PREMIUM ELITE!!

    • Ringwraith10 says:

      This sounds like a game where you play as a new recruit soldier being hazed by the other soldiers. It’s a battle to survive!

    • Viroso says:

      Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are some good names though.

  10. Shuck says:

    The fundamental problem is that games are almost always about shootyguns or giant sword dudes from Tolkien-world. When you’re trying to come up with a name that reflects the specific juvenile power fantasy that takes place in such a context, and you’ve got several decades of similar such games already in existence, it’s rather limiting. Plus, simple, descriptive names don’t work if hundreds of games end up being called “Space Fascist” or “Phallic-Sword Orc-Slayer.” (Pardon me, I’m off to work on my new epic game, “Phallic-Sword Orc-Slayer the Space Fascist.” It’s going to be huge.)

  11. Frank says:

    “Sunless Sea” sounds like a good name, even in the context of those similar names.

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      slerbal says:

      It is also very descriptive of the setting and the game – driving a boat around a dark, underground sea.

      There are probably better names, but it seems pretty good to me – but then I am terrible at naming games – an MMO I made ended up with the acronym SLO… *sigh*

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      Gap Gen says:

      I apparently have a habit of naming my game jam games after something else that’s already come out.

    • Bureaucrat says:

      I always figured that “Sunless Sea” was lifted out of Coleridge.

      (I’d also totally play “Sinuous Rills”)

      • rhubarb says:

        Sunless Sea is definitely taken from Coleridge. In fact, I think Xanadu was the original inspiration for Fallen London itself.

  12. N'Al says:

    iD (Id? id? ID?) are particularly guilty of this.

    Sure, their names aren’t immediately stupid like Divine Divinity or Amalur or Crysis*, and they are quite memorable, but what on earth does Rage have to do with anything in that game? Getting overly annoyed at messing up the Five Finger Fillet minigame, perhaps? Otherwise, I draw a blank.

    * Well, their company name is though, I guess, s. above.

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      Banyan says:

      Ooooh oooh, that reminds me that “One Finger Death Punch” was an awesome name for a game! And it is a really good description of the actual gameplay as well.

    • Janichsan says:

      Well, it’s not as if Quake had a lot of trembling grounds.

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        Wisq says:

        Yeah, “Doom” was probably their first and last game title that actually described the game decently.

        Everything since then has just been them refusing to get off the “one very short word” train, even when it seems to be going absolutely nowhere sensible.

  13. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    While video games are bad, I think fantasy books are worse. Seriously, I love the genre, but 95% of the titles are complete rubbish.

    • Koozer says:

      Book titles are near universally pointless. Even the cover art is dubious at time.

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        FriendlyFire says:

        As much as I love Tor books, they’re particularly guilty of this.

        Seriously, all the Wheel of Time books have A) rather meaningless titles (I can’t even remember most of them now) and B) absolutely horrendous covers.

        • Hauscat says:

          You do realize the names of the book are all taken from the story. Names of places, events, thingys, hats, phrases, or themes from the tale are all used as titles. So essentially you are complaining about Robert Jordan’s propensity for following time tested fantasy tropes.

      • GameCat says:

        Oh God, every time I walk past the fantasy and horror section in book store these badly photoshoped covers that are insulting my aestethic taste are staring at me and my soul.
        Hell, these covers are making “Typical Videogame Cover #31: The Man With The Gun” Louvre-worthy.

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        Wisq says:

        Sci-fi suffers a similar issue, particularly when they name their books after a concept they made up in the book itself. For example, I just finished “Excession” by Iain M. Banks — a made-up word used to describe the phenomina the book is focused around — and while I loved the book, I probably would have never picked it up if a) it weren’t by Banks and/or b) I hadn’t been searching to determine everyone’s favourite Banks book. (And the cover art is pretty uninspiring, too.)

        If you showed the average person a lineup of sci-fi book titles (and/or cover art), they probably would not have picked up most of the sci-fi books I currently own. In fact, I’m at the point where I pretty much automatically distrust a sci-fi book if they have good cover art, I think because that indicates to me that the content is too mundane to have sufficiently confused the poor shmuck they hired to design the cover. :)

  14. Wulfram says:

    I don’t think Kingdoms of Amalur is terrible. At the least you have a pretty good idea it’s a fantasy game set in a secondary world. And it’s easily franchisable without resorting to colons.

    The main problem is that too many games share a few concepts, and there are a limted number of ways to express “Shooting Bad Guys [in SPAACE!]”. And you don’t want to tie your name to specific plot events, because then your name is probably stupid for the sequel.

    • Nixitur says:

      “Kingdoms of Amalur” is okay, but the “: Reckoning” part of it just makes it sound silly.
      Like it’s the game to the movie to the comic, extended edition plus.

  15. Zorlan says:

    Snigger.

    It’s a hard job to please the crowd isn’t it? Just imagine the suit in his office getting asked what the new to-be cash-cow is going to be called. Perhaps it went something like this : “-So, Sir, shall we call it Superbattle 2015 or Warthing: New Kind of Death? -Hmm… Next year is 2015 right? Let’s go with that this time! Then people will remember when it came out and keep buying it! -Great idea, Sir! I’ll go let the PR team know immediately!”

  16. Viroso says:

    Polygon had an article about stupid game names recently too. I’d link to it but that’d mark me as a bot and my comment would wait forever for a moderator’s approval. Anyway, they talked about how game names are either dumb or literal (like Prison Architect) while praising names that RPS says are too vague, which I agree.

    You know what also annoys me, titles that imply some other sentence like Heart Forth Alicia, And Yet It Moves, Of WHATEVER and WHATEVER. I feel bad because these titles actually cause me some anger.

  17. Joey Fudgepants says:

    While we’re at it, can we also retire words such as: revolution, evolution, evolved, realms, or any attempt to fuse the words blood, power, death, war, fist, blade, or gun into some other hapless word?

    (Full disclosure, my indie project “Realms of PowerGun FistBlade: Evolution” hits Greenlight this weekend).

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    MeatMan says:

    So person named Dr. Farts is going to generate good names?

    What could possibly go wrong? :)

  19. steviebops says:

    Naming a game is bastard hard. You’re so close to it, nothing seems to fit.

  20. Nixitur says:

    I think there’s something to be said for game names that are intentionally ridiculous.
    Like “Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa“.
    Or “The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa“.
    You’re bound to remember at least some parts of the names.

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      Stellar Duck says:

      I remember that Tír na nÓg game. Because it’s the name of a bar I have gotten drunk in more times than seem reasonable. Good place though.

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    SuddenSight says:

    They didn’t mention my favorite game name of all time: Super Crate Box. This is, of course, the shortened name, after Vlambeer decided Super Awesome Exciting Cube Crate Box Bin was too long.

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    daver4470 says:

    I think Kingdoms of Amalur’s problem was about 2% the goofy name and about 98% the fact they released a broken demo that forever tainted the game’s image…..

    • The Borderer says:

      On top of that, Curt Schilling’s marmite political views didn’t do Kingdoms of Amalur any favours.

  23. GernauMorat says:

    Place of Fantasy Bollocks: Dramatic

    Genius

  24. Uncompetative says:

    I’m working on an intergalactic MMORTSFPSRPG set in multiple parallel universes, you can basically do anything. Oh, and it’s in 3D. Anyone suggest a title?

    • Uncompetative says:

      Does no one have any suggestions? I’m serious about this.

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        yhancik says:

        Intergalactic MMORTSFPSRPG : Multiverse sounds about right.

        • DrMcCoy says:

          Intergalactic MMORTSFPSRPG : Multiverse 3D!

          We’re still doing that, adding 3D to make something sound cool, right?

          • Uncompetative says:

            So, it is decided then.

            Multiverse

            thanks for all the help, it should be about five years before I’m ready to release an Alpha.

      • valrus says:

        Take a word that’s relevant (say, “universe”) and do a Google Ngram Viewer search like “universe *_NOUN” or “*_ADJ universe”.

        Or go with one of these sure-fire gems:
        — “The real worlds”
        — “The outside worlds”
        — “If we had worlds enough and time”
        — “It’s the end of the worlds as we know it (and I feel fine)”
        — “Be the change you want to see in the worlds”

        (Actually “The Outside Worlds” ain’t half bad.)

  25. Koozer says:

    I find indie games particularly guilty of terrible names. The pattern seems to be take two words, smash them together, wiggle them around until you get something that sounds like a real word, aaand you’re done! What’s the game actually about you say? Who cares!

    EDIT: I bring gifts from my journey into the internet: http://videogamena.me/

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Yes. Every game developer/publisher/space fascist should be required to use this (and only this) to choose their title. Preferably before they even have a game idea at all.

      That is how Aquatic Outlaw Syndrome and High-Speed Mahjong in the Bayou get made.

      • Jerppa says:

        I would buy “Hillbilly Mummy Showdown”.

      • Koozer says:

        “The SIx-Million Dollar Software Beta”

        If only Star Citizen used this tool.

      • LionsPhil says:

        We must have an Incredible Ninja of Love.

      • Premium User Badge

        Durkonkell says:

        Personally, I am looking forward to Explosive Guitar Wars.

        EDIT: THIS IS BRILLIANT.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        I’m fairly confident that the success of Perverted Frog Shack and Middle-Eastern Mind Control: Special Edition will make or break PC gaming in 2014.

      • The Random One says:

        “Tropical Spatula Conspiracy”

        Sounds thrilling!

      • BooleanBob says:

        Islamic Forklift Mansion.

        /thread

        • Imbecile says:

          Romantic Spatula Zone sounds intriguing, or perhaps the more worrying Dirty Plumber Crisis. For a niche market we have Underwater Valkyrie Simulator, or Ghetto Amish III

      • Diatribe says:

        I really want to play “Dwarven Janitor Armageddon.”

    • DanMan says:

      Has my Dead or Alive Raccoon Gone Wild ?

    • JimDiGritz says:

      Paranoid Sailor Assassins…

      Just. Fucking. Take. That. In.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Luigi’s Shock Warfare
      Sid Meier’s Forklift X-Treme
      Fruity Vegetarian in Busytown

    • Wulfram says:

      Amish Alien vs. Street Fighter

    • Rob Maguire says:

      Several years back we had to design and implement a simple 2D game for a game dev course, and I decided on a top-down LOS-based burglary game (sort of a mix of Thief and the old Metal Gears).

      I named the game Stealth.

      The first five letters were a different color.

    • Janichsan says:

      “Olympic Bongo Horror” – sounds like a zombie sports game for Nintendo’s DK Bongos.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Unreal Fencing Turbo. Two entirely different and amazing games right there.

  26. atejas says:

    The two examples of good names you gave (Prison Architect and KSP) don’t have much in the way of plot or dramatic tension. It’s easy to be prosaic in game naming when your game is kind of prosaic itself (see also Dwarf Fortress, x Tycoon)
    If game titles should strive to be as literal as possible, should Skyrim just be named Dragon Killer? Couldn’t (eg) XCOM and Borderlands both plausibly be named Alien Shooter?

    What about a game like Frozen Synapse, which isn’t actually about brain freezing?

    • jalf says:

      Names do not have to be “as literal as possible”. What gave you that idea?

      But if your name is just a random selection of the words “war”, “killer”, “fighter”, “black”, “elite”, “warfare”, “duty” and “honor” glued together, then your game objectively has a terrible name.

      Which means that most AAA games have terrible names.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        “Names do not have to be “as literal as possible”. What gave you that idea?”

        Presumably the third-from-last paragraph of the article we just read.

    • Janichsan says:

      “Couldn’t (eg) XCOM and Borderlands both plausibly be named Alien Shooter?”
      Well, the former could be Alien Shooter Tactics and the Alien Shooter Looter.

    • Scrofa says:

      You realize that Dwarf Fortress’ actual name is “Slaves to Amrok: God of Blood. Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress”, right?

  27. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I suggest we chose the Tamarian way in approaching any further game titles.

    Marine, his bare midriff taunting demons

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Archaeologist, her cleavage ample.
      Cartoon mercenaries, their deaths amusing.
      Chemical engineer, his waldos twirling.
      Armoured soldier and aliens, in New York.
      Death, his powers undone.
      Blocks, aligned they vanish.
      Giant robots, their men within.
      Test subject, her space non-Euclidean.

  28. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    Well, while we can probably all agree on bad game names, good game names is really more of an art than a science. For me KSP and Prison Architect leave me cold.

    Personally, ones I liked:

    No Man’s Sky
    Kentucky Route Zero
    Red Faction (Before it got ruined with subtitles)
    Titanfall
    Homeworld

  29. Jerppa says:

    What if game publishers hired those people who name porn movies?

    • RedWurm says:

      Those people don’t exist any more, we’d just end up with War: A AAA Game Parody. which is accurate but not all that fun.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I thought those nude mods you get for pretty much every moddable game would have such names.

  30. JP says:

    How’s “Spacebase DF-9″? I feel like we did pretty good there… though I still get asked “Does that reference Double Fine, or Dwarf Fortress, or Deep Space Nine?”

    To which I say, “Yes.”

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      It’s okay, but not great.

      The DF-9 bit is a little annoying, though. Anyone who plays the game learns immediately that the DF-9 has nothing to do with the gameplay or game universe.

      However “Spacebase” alone is too generic, so props for adding *something*.

      If I had the chance to rename your game, I’d try to reference something in-game. Such as “Chicken base in space” or something like that.

      • Acorino says:

        I think the seed container the game starts with should read DF-9, basically the bureaucratic assignment code should be DF-9 for the colony you start thousands of years later.
        Because yeah, otherwise the in-game connection is missing…

        Edit: Maybe DF stands for Diaspora Fleet? That’s what it says on the top on the screen after you start a new game. But I dunno what the 9 could stand for.
        The ninth seed sent out into a quadrant as a basis for a colony?

  31. JoeX111 says:

    Let’s just apply these rules, shall we?

    DayZ – Wilderness Jackass

    Uncharted – Pulp Genocide

    Mass Effect – Sci-fi Sexytime

    Warthunder – Airplanes Shootybang

    Super Mario – Plumber Hopsalot

    Papers, Please – Stamping Soviets

    Spintires – Muddy Swearing

    Qvadriga – Chariot Cornering

    The Walking Dead – Apocalyptic Moral Quandaries

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      “Qvadriga – Chariot Cornering”

      About that one: that’s already what’s in the title.

    • The Random One says:

      Stamping Soviets sounds like a DDR-based sequel to Papers, Please.

      And Mass Effect is actually a pretty good name, because it’s the name of the pivotal technology that drives FTL travel in the game’s universe, and that is actually considered by some a way to get actual FTL travel in the real world. The problem is that the game’s lofty science setting start degenerating into Star Trek with more shootin’ and sexin’ pretty much from the moment you press start.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        lofty science setting

        Eh, no. It’s basically just “dark Star Trek”, which is to say, standard space opera. All aliens are humanoid, everyone speaks the same language, space battles take place with ships almost touching each other, FTL is easy and commonplace (and explained as “magical element reduces mass of ships” which AFAIK is still not enough for FTL — unless you reduce it to zero, at which point all kinds of weird shit would happen), etc.

        “Lofty science setting” would be something like the forgotten bedroom-programmed “Iron Seed”, where you puttered around at sublight (taking literally years to move between stars), your crew are all stored brain dumps (and can go corrupt/insane, and you can back them up and restore them), planets are scanned by orbiting probes rather than magical ship sensors, combat takes place on sensor screens at massive distances, etc. Or lofty in the theme direction, like “The Fall” or “Gemini Rue”, which deal with concepts of identity and purpose and mental/literal programming and the like.

        In fact, even as space opera goes, neither Trek nor Mass Effect are particularly at the lofty or science-y end of the spectrum. Going to novels here:

        In Peter F Hamilton’s “Night’s Dawn” trilogy, Adamist ships had jump drive tech that could instantly displace them at FTL speeds, potentially many times in rapid succession; however, their effective maximum range and travel time was still limited by the delta-V capability of the craft (in regular space flight), because the galaxy is spinning and you have to accelerate to match the velocity of the local stars if you want to do anything with them. Edenists, meanwhile, have a sort of emotional telepathy built in to their genes, and he does a good job exploring how this would create a massively different society (instant democracy, emotional stability, etc.) and a schism from the rest of the population.

        In David Weber’s “Honor Harrington” series, he treats space combat like 2D naval combat in many ways — ships trying to “cross the T” and fire down the other ship’s bow whenever possible, ships that are effectively invincible from top-down or bottom-up attack but have only limited resistance from the side, etc. But he’s also specifically designed his technology to achieve this, making it a symptom of the drive technology — a “wedge” of impenetrable fields on the top and bottom of the ship, pointed backwards, such that the bow opening is larger than the stern opening. He also made the technology more efficient for smaller craft than larger ones, such that missiles use it (solving the “get to the target in a reasonable time with enough thrust left to still manoeuvre” issue), and such that light craft (“space fighters”) actually make some sense. (Of note here is internal consistency — coming up with a foundation/framework, then exploring all the ramifications and embracing them at any time when it’s prudent for the characters to do so. This is something Trek never did, except when it suited an episode’s plot.)

        Alastair Reynolds’ “House of Suns” features a thousand clones of an individual, travelling around the entire galaxy (at near-light speed), exploring and collecting along the way, and then reuniting every galactic revolution (~200,000 years) to (literally) exchange memories and achieve a kind of wisdom no single human ever could. They watch individual civilisations rise and fall, they’re respected and feared for their (comparatively) god-like technological abilities, and their only long-term acquaintances (and potential threats) are other cloned individuals (“houses”) doing the same.

        Now, I’m not putting any quality judgements here. I liked Star Trek. I liked Mass Effect decently enough. I liked Iron Seed but in different ways, and I know that many people would dislike it (not least because it’s quite unpolished). I enjoyed the Night’s Dawn trilogy but hated the deus ex machina ending. I read the Harrington series for a while but the titular main character was becoming a ridiculously overskilled Mary Sue and I stopped. Liked House of Suns, and The Fall, and Gemini Rue, and etc.

        My only point here is that saying Mass Effect has a “lofty science setting” is like saying that jalapeño peppers are “unbearably hot”. I know people who would say this after a eating a tiny slice of one, just as I know people who would eat a whole pepper and find it bland.

        Really, it’s exceedingly rare that video games (particularly “AAA” ones) ever really delve into the depths of lofty sci-fi — probably because they cost so much to produce that you can’t afford niche titles, while novels can. (It’s perhaps worth noting that the word “lofty” itself implies a certain degree of inaccessibility, which pretty much means that it’s not a likely term to describe any AAA title.)

        Personally, I’d love to see more lofty and/or hard sci-fi in video games, but only because I enjoy it and want the variety. I wouldn’t want to see it at the expense of the more accessible sci-fi titles (like Mass Effect), because there should always be sci-fi content that everyone can enjoy. Having a good variety of content helps sci-fi as a whole, rather than detracting from it.

    • babbler says:

      Spintires-Muddy Swearing makes me giggle and is a perfectly apt title.

    • Jenks says:

      I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t at least check out the trailer for Sci-fi Sexytime.

  32. GrosData says:

    Electronic Super Joy was a pretty cool name. Accurate too.

  33. aludlam says:

    Profuse apologies, I can’t get past the irony

    “It’s time to put an end to forgettable, unsearchable, derivative, non-sensical and DOWNRIGHT AWFUL NAMES everywhere,” said company founder Dr. Stephen FARTS.”

    I do my best to maintain a certain level of maturity on a daily basis, but… really?

  34. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    I’m amazed that no-one has yet mentioned my favourite game name (and, indeed, game): Deus Ex. Yes, I know that technically speaking leaving off the word “Machina” does not make the sentence read “God from the…”, but since the idiom is so well known, that is the imagery evoked. Implicitly, the question is asked of the player: “CAN God come from the machine? Can human frailty be overcome with technological wizardry? Can we build our own Leviathan, our own corporal God-like entity, from machinery and technology? From whence does God come? From the human, from the divine, or from the human will to reach the divine?” To do all that in two words which in themselves are a grammatical nonsense is really quite impressive.

  35. blandbutgreasy says:

    Amalur would be a great name for a fishing game where you play the worm

  36. Bloodoflamb says:

    Hyper Light Drifter

    Best game name in years.

  37. Jelly Paladin says:

    I agree about overly dramatic titles and overly abstract titles not working out, but Prison Architect does nothing for me either. Very few game titles in general stick out to me, but if I absolutely had to pick favorite patterns, I’d go with either cheesy silliness (Zombies Ate My Neighbors), made-up words (Tetris</em), or previously unused portmanteaus (Timespinner).

    So basically I’m on the side of this editorial’s rule 3.

  38. baryon says:

    “Spycraft: The Great Game” breaks a couple of rules but surely a prize must go to:
    Dissidia 012 (duodecim) Final Fantasy

  39. Wee Free Studio says:

    So what do you think of our game name, Powargrid?

    It’s a turn based strategy/board game where you have to destroy the opponent’s power plants and defend your own by constructing a grid of power lines and offensive/defensive buildings.

    The “misspelling” is deliberate, referring to the war/conflict in the game. Also, this way it’s basically unique in search results, plus the domain (powargrid.com) was available.

  40. The Random One says:

    I was just thinking about THIS VERY ISSUE when I was reading the names of a few music albums and was like, damn, no video game has ever had a name this good. Of course, album names don’t need to have anything to do with their content, but… well, what does Far Cry has to do with a far cry?

  41. Phasma Felis says:

    So, reading the article and the comment thread, I think we can conclude:

    * Punchy, single-word names are Not Okay
    * Long, complicated names are Not Okay
    * Prosaic, descriptive names are Not Okay
    * Weird, made-up words and compound words are Not Okay

    What’s left, now?

  42. Yglorba says:

    In defense of Lichdom: Battlemage, the game really is exactly what it says on the tin — the name might not be snappy, but it tells you exactly what to expect, and you should know immediately if you want to play the game or not after hearing it.

  43. Myrdinn says:

    Paradox Development Studio does have some good names though; Europa Universalis, Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun and Crusader Kings are all on point. Heck, even the DLC is on point: Conquest of Paradise (focused on the Americas) Wealth of Nations (focused on trading), The Old Gods (focus on pagans) etc.

  44. Premium User Badge

    Hypocee says:

    Torchlight. Frankly it would have applied better to Diablo, but yeeeah. Unforgettable and evocative.

  45. Premium User Badge

    Hammer says:

    No hate for excessive use of punctuation? Brackets, strokes, at signs etc have no place in a well crafted title.

  46. Zekiel says:

    Really enjoyed this article.

    It really does seem like most games have poor names judged by this sort of standard. I’m not sure its fair to be so dismissive of single-word names – that would include such gems as Fallout, Half-Life and Portal. You can always get round the search engine problem by searching for “Portal game” can’t you?

    But a lot of beloved games have names that really don’t give any description of what they are. Doom, Quake, Baldur’s Gate, Team Fortress 2, DOTA (!!!)

    Other examples I’ve come up with of excellently-titled games (regardless of the quality of the game itself):
    – Dead Space
    – Orcs Must Die
    – System Shock

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      DOTA (!!!)

      Are you complaining that a game which has 2 teams each defending a structure called “The Ancient” while the opposing team attempts to destroy said “Ancient” which is named “Defence of the Ancients” doesn’t have a descriptive enough name?

      Literally no words.

      • Zekiel says:

        “Literally no words.”

        You had lots of words!

        OK so I’m wrong on this. I thought DOTA 2 (I meant DOTA 2, even though I said DOTA) officially *didn’t* stand for “Defence of the Ancients”. If it does, then the title makes a lot of sense. I stand corrected.

    • P.Funk says:

      Team Fortress 2 is actually a perfectly descriptive name. Whats it about? A team. What do they do? Fight over a fortress. Which game is this? The second one.

      Numbered releases are perfectly fine when you’re not doing them every year or two. Team Fortress being refurb’d several years later into a new engine, with a new design, with a new team, with everything new but the core being heavily influenced by the old version means the number is valid. It makes every thought of the previous title rush into your head.

      Team Fortress. Pretty self explanatory. Great shooters usually are. What better name would there be?

      • Zekiel says:

        Hmmm. Your explanation makes a lot of sense. I criticised hastily. I retract.

        “What better name would there be?”
        I think Lord Custard covered this above :-)

  47. Paul.Power says:

    I would add: don’t name your game after the main character (or, well, any character really). It tells me nothing about the game, or even the story. I guess you can get away with it if it’s a reference to something, but it’s still not very helpful.

    This applies to other media as well. It’s kind of boggling how Jane Austen managed to come up with one of the best titles for a book ever in “Pride and Prejudice” but then messed up with “Emma”, “Mansfield Park” and “Northanger Abbey”.

    e: The Stanley Parable gets a pass, mostly because Stanley is an entertainingly prosaic name.

  48. pilouuuu says:

    Half-Life 3 is an awful title because it doesn’t exist.

  49. DreamElixir says:

    TOTAL WAR: THE PERIOD DURING WHICH WAR WAS TOTAL

    INTEGER DENOTING NUMBER OF TIMES WAR HAS BEEN TOTAL DURING SAID PERIOD (See quill)

    To expand:
    SUMMARY OF THE MOST PERTINENT DEVELOPMENT OF SAID PERIOD’S TOTAL WARRYNESS

    Creators, assemble!

  50. NarcoSleepy says:

    All I read was “Farts, Farts, Farts, Farts, Farts…”