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Editorial: Game Names Are Almost Universally Terrible

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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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Graham Smith

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Graham is to blame for all this.

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