Naming Stuff

I’ve named a few things in my life. Games, websites, children. Here’s a few tips. These are general tips, don’t bother posting in the comments about how this game or that game are successful so this is all bullshit. Cuz you’re bullshit.

Thesaurus

The first place you’re gonna go is the thesaurus. Everyone does. You’re gonna find 10 words that mean the same thing and you’re gonna like 3 of them. You’re gonna google them and find out they’re already iPhone games.

Everyone does it. It’s great for ideas but maybe use the word combined with another word. Find a new angle on it.

Mythology

You’re a nerd, so why not get a mythological name. There’s tons of them.  Well, because made up, uncommon words are hard to remember, hard to spell and are uninteresting. It makes your audience feel like the game isn’t for them, because it’s a world they’re not already involved in.

Gimmicks

Full capitals, full lowercase, double spaces, upside down letters, emoticons. They’re a good idea at the time and make you feel cool. They’re not gonna win any points.

Inventing Words

Nope. Nope. Nope. With some exceptions. If the word is a slightly changed real word, slightly shortened real word, okay.

Definitely avoid hard to say, hard to type words.

Short or Long

Short. Max 3 words, ideally 1-2 words.

If your name is long, make sure it has nice initials that people can shorthand it to.

Initials

Want a long name but don’t want a long name? Initials are the way to go. I don’t mind initials, but I would avoid having it spell a word. Unless it’s a cute, completely unrelated word.

Also be sure you’re not gonna conflict with anything else – Even if you don’t use initials.

X and Z

X and Z are nerd letters. They broadcast to everyone that your game is for nerds.

There was a stage where putting Z at the end of the name was used to signify that your game was cool, but people cottoned onto that pretty quickly.

The one exception is when used in the word “Zombie”, but using Zombie or the letter Z in your zombie game is so cliche now that I would avoid that too.

Inclusion

Something I think about a lot of inclusion. I don’t really get into games like Dota or WoW with orcs and elves and all that shite. It’s not something that interests me, it turns me the opposite way. But if a Dota like game came out and it was just men running around beating each other to fuck I’d be more interested.

When I first made the Rust Trailer Helk hated it. It was jolly, it was happy. It didn’t really reflect the vision of the game as the hardcore murder simulator. It didn’t make you go “whoa cool explosions“. What it did do was invite people who weren’t into those types of games. It didn’t take itself too seriously, it didn’t suggest to people that they had to be a certain level of hardcore to play.

This is something I think of a lot when I’m doing stuff. You’ve already got your audience, they’ll buy your game anyway.. so target the audience you want – the 99% of people who don’t play your game.

This is obviously not just name related, but it definitely applies. Don’t be afraid to give your game a name that your hardcore audience will laugh at.

Copying

It’d be tempting to name your game a bit like another game. We saw this a lot with Rust, but the ones that come to mind are people adding “Tycoon” to the end of their names, or “Clash of” at the start of their names.

While this can be useful to describe what your game is, to let Tycoon game fans that this is a Tycoon game, I think you’re setting yourself in a bad position by doing this. You’re leading them to believe that your game is as good as, if not better than those Tycoon games they played. That it’s the same experience. You’re tying yourself to that.

On The Nose

Here’s some names that Mario could have been called.

  • Coin Grab
  • Plumber Problems
  • Block Dash
  • Pipe Cleaner
  • Shell Hell
  • Side Runner Plumber Coin Grab

It’s tempting to say, okay this is a game about pushing blocks around – lets call it Block Pusher. This is a game about matching 3 colors, lets call it Match3.

Unrelated

Just chose a word. Any word. But be different. There were 4,200 games release on Steam in 2016.

I’ve, for a long time been a fan of using girls names. There’s ton of them, they’re evocative, they’re unrelated. Gwen could have been called GGUI, EasyUI, CPlusUI, SimpleUI. I’m guessing if you see that list and then you see Gwen, or Beth, or Sophie – you’re going to click on the girl’s name.. just out of pure curiosity.

Also a fan of looking at lists of adjectives. Even though most of them are already iphone games, or web services. You can usually think about the thing you’re doing, think about how it is meant to make the user feel, or how you feel about the thing you’re making. It’s unrelated and vague but it can quickly feel like the name.

The Game

A lot of naming difficulty comes from the games not having anything past a game. Something I think about is Darwinia. What would that be called if they hadn’t got the lore, if the land and the people didn’t have a name. Something generic as fuck like DigiWar, Virus Smiter, AI Attack.

So maybe invent a bit of lore to your game. Name the world, name the city, name the companies, name the people, name the characters, and name it after something related to that.

 

Fuck It

Ultimately if you have a great game it doesn’t matter what you call it. We’ve proven that twice.

You have to go quite wrong to turn people off clicking on your game because of its name – so fuck it.

6 thoughts on “Naming Stuff

  1. Don’t forget about the word play with TLDs, .io, .ly, so on and so forth! Most of their usage is just exhausting at this point. Sometimes they’re creative, most aren’t.

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