My Top Ten: Gaming Names

Sorry everyone, after last week’s excellent Guest Writer stand-in I’m back. This week I’ve been thinking about the names attached to certain things in our industry and how weird some of them are. You know, when you really think about it a lot of names don’t actually mean anything and some of them mean far too much. Here’s ten I came up with this morning but I know there are dozens more, what are your favourite weird names in gaming?

  • Go! Puzzle – I understand; you’re excited about the prospect of a bit of a puzzle but there’s really no need for that exclamation mark. Go! Puzzle? No, I’d quite like to stay here and puzzle please.
  • Dreamcast – I love Sega to bits thanks to the countless hours of joy I spent with a Mega Drive controller in my hands and my eyes glued to a big old TV. Dreamcast is a silly name though. Saturn was a bit silly but at least it sounded futuristic. Dreamcast sounds like some weird hippy rubbish which might involve crystals and weed. Luckily it was an awesome console. Shame it got discontinued.
  • Anything named by Nintendo – I know, they’re still the biggest-hitters inthe console industry. I know they have an astonishing record for making great systems and games but let’s be honest: I could have filled this list with Nintendo products. “Entertainment System”and “Super Entertainment System” are cheesy and dry. N64 sounds like a codename that slipped out the door when nobody was looking. Gamecube sounds like it’s only a step above those V-Tech plug-in TV “consoles”. And then we have the Wii. What? Do you think it was just a joke to get people across the globe saying “I really want a Wii”?
  • Microsoft Xbox (360) – Why? Regardless of how good the console(s) were or are; what does that actually mean? Presumably they might have been going for eXtreme, eXperimental, eXtra-terrestrial or even, imaginatively, eXtraneous but I like to think they wanted to make a case for carrying your Xylophone. And how about the 360? Great, base a console design around the fact that it can sit 2 ways by turning it 90 degrees and then call it 360 because… oh. You just didn’t want the Xbox 2 on shelves next to a PlayStation 3 did you Microsoft?
  • PSP – Sony are guilty of this type of nomenclature more than anyone else. You can almost hear the meetings – “So, it’s a kind of PlayStation and it’s portable. Shall we just call it the, er… PlayStation Portable and then we can spend the afternoon in the pub instead of in this stuffy boardroom?”. It’s the same for a lot of PlayStation products. PlayStation Network and its movie service, the PlayStation Network Video Delivery Service are another prime example. Not Live and Netflix or Zune then? No brand, just a description? Alright.
  • Any of those Wii Party games – pick one, I don’t care which, they’re all stupid. In fact, they’re all called “Wii Super Happy Go! Party Extreme: Deluxe Family Night Edition PLAY!” in my head.
  • Sega’s Rez Trance Vibrator – This is one of my favourite pieces of video game history and it’s got a funny name so I can mention it again. Basically a little pod that plugged in to your PS2 to buzz and pulsate along with the visual stimulations in REZ. They actively encouraged gamers to sit on it too. A Trance Vibrator sounds like something lonely hypnotists might make use of.
  • Heavy Rain – I was initially a bit sceptical about this game but I’ve warmed to it immensely and I’ve now got my pre-order in. I’m not bashing the game (pre-release) but that name is a bit weak. It’s a thriller, it’s got murder, action, intrigue and suspense. What shall we call it? I don’t know, let’s name it after some mildly inconvenient weather.
  • GameStop – Alright, a place where I can stop and get games. Woo. I know that GAME is an even simpler retailer-name but the fact that GameStop is a cheeky letter-switch away from being the name of a huge, unrelated, website just edges it onto the list. I remember buying games in Electronics Boutique, that felt so luxurious in comparison to modern game-shopping. What next, a butcher’s shop called “Dead Animals. And sometimes milk and pickles.”? The madness needs to stop.
  • The “Back” button on a 360 controller – I know, this is a bit specific but it’s also a personal bugbear of mine. Why is it called “Back”? It almost never actually takes me “back” to anything. It works like any other button and gets mapped to games in whichever way the developers want. I don’t even think it works as a “back” button on the Xbox’s dashboard. It’s silly. Although, thinking about it, “Select” is silly too. The “X” button selects (or circle if you’re Japanese) that little rubber square one usually brings up your map or something. It just doesn’t make sense!