I think game titles are a bit of an art form. I like the title to convey the feel and spirit of the game, evoke the setting. A good title will tell the player what the game is about, and an excellent title might telegraph the weight and style of the game as well.
I love this part of the process, and I think the name of a game is critical to a game’s success. It is – even more so than the box – the ultimate expression of the game’s essence. It is your hook. Take your time, and find the right name. If you want to gamify it, every word you use above a single word is minus points. One or two words is ideal. Practically speaking, I consider if the name is easy to trademark and if it has other products that exist with that title.
Weight is the most important aspect to consider when naming the game. If you insist on naming the game with a pun, then it must be played in less than a half hour and be light on complexity and components. The more syllabic, complicated, or uncommon the words in the title, the heavier I would expect the game to be. Consider T’zolkin: The Mayan Calendar, Twilight Imperium.
Honestly? Half of my games start with a name idea that strongly conveys a theme. It might get retitled down the road (“One of You Is a Bear” is a mouthful!), but this is a good starting point for me. For games that don’t have a title right away, I usually provisionally title it early on, just so my playtesters know which game I’m talking about!
I prefer game names that are one or two words, occasionally with a pronoun in there somewhere. “Energy Empire,” had to have “The Manhattan Project” in front of it because it’s a sequel. I like strength in a name, and a bit of mystery. Some other games of mine, current and future: “Stones of Fate,” “Beyond Jupiter,” “Saturn Rising,” “Califia,” “Replicant,” and “Dwellings of Eldervale.”
Believe it or not, I find naming a game one of the biggest challenges when it comes to making a game. I generally like to wait until I’m confident that the game will be made before I really pick a name, and the decision will have massive implications, as it will be the first impression many people have of the game. A name needs to:
- Be original… you can’t take one another game already uses.
- Be easy to remember and say.
- Communicate the game’s theme, mechanics, weight, and overall mood.
- Preferably be clever.
I almost never jump on the first name I come up with, instead spending a good amount of time brainstorming as many options as possible before picking one. And the most effective strategy I’ve discovered is actually crowd sourcing: I’ll ask all my facebook friends for help, and they’ll often come up with many great suggestions, one of which will make the final cut.
Game names are really important – often they are the first impression someone gets of your game. Important goals for the name are that it’s unambiguous (“Summoner Wars” versus “Summoners War” as a counterexample), conveys a sense of the theme and/or gameplay and is not unwieldy (i.e. overly long or hard to spell). Be sure to get objective feedback on your potential names, what resonates with you might not with others.
THE GAME NAME GAUNTLET
No process of naming a game would be complete without the League’s GAME NAME GAUNTLET – Mike Domeny runs your game names through a series of practical, real world situations to help you pick the ultimate one!