The names the thing

One of the most important things that RPG developers have their arsenal when trying to get people interested in their games is the title of the book. Be it a core rule book or a supplement, the title is often the first thing that a customer picks up on, not the cover art, not the setting and certainly not the system. So why is it that we have so many bad examples of titles for games?

Think about some of the great games out there. From the distant past to the most recent times, the name of a game has led the customers to expand on their knowledge of a game from the moment they hear it or it just washes over them and the shrug it off. Good names for games are evocative, imformative and direct. Bad names are none of these. Consider the following list:

  • Dungeons & Dragons – Exactly what the game is about and evokes the setting from the off, even though this is cheating a bit being the biggest name on the block.
  • Cyberpunk – Guess what? its a Cyberpunk game. Simple, direct and if your into that genre then you know exactly what lies within.
  • Spirit of the Centry – The kind of name that evokes a curious response from most while giving a hint of the pulp genre that it details.

The three titles above show how a name can grab a customer, evoke a setting and be direct and to the point, encouraging further investigation by the customers.

  • Alpha Omega – Err… what?, no idea what its about, the setting or the intention of the game.
  • Burning Wheel – So its a game about wheels?? Wheels that burn?
  • Tribe 8 – Huh? no idea…..

These names are all strange in their choice, even if they are some great games. Personally I only know Burning Wheel, although I am seriously tempted by Alpha Omega. This temptation only comes after some digging around and finding out what the game is about and how it plays, etc, etc. The designers of Alpha Omega have spent some serious effort trying to educate the rpg community on what their game is, how it plays and how we should all want to get involved. This leaves me thinking that maybe they could have saved some of that effort by choosing a different name for their game. Personally I would love to know why they choose Alpha Omega.

Which brings me to the next part of this post. Im currently writting a supplement for Traveller. Hopefully this will be the first of a series of books for the system. Naming the book and trying to evoke the right feel and keep the title open enough to be part of a series is tough going. I’ll let you know how its going and the directions im considering in tomorrows post.


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