原作者：Erin Bell 译者：Willow Wu
“Mahjomino是我们发行的第一款游戏，我们想既然游戏本身就是麻将与多米诺骨牌的结合，那名字也就这么起吧，”Cafe.com领导人Steve Shatford在西雅图的Casual Connect大会上说道。“为什么说这个命名是失败的，首先，人们不知道这个词要怎么念，进而导致他们不太容易记得这个游戏。
《美女餐厅》的主创Nick Fortugno，他早年开发了一款很严肃的游戏——Ayiti: The Cost of Life。”Ayiti ”在海地克里奥尔语的意思就是“海地”，很有意思。但除此之外，它在其它方面并没有什么特别的记忆点，导致没有多少玩家会去搜索这个游戏。这又是一个教训。
Fortugno（现在是Rebel Monkey的联合创始人和首席创意官）说《美女餐厅》（Diner Dash）这个名字是团队想出来的，就在这个餐厅主题的模拟经营游戏计划发行的两周前，他们进行了一行头脑风暴。“我们采用这个名字的原因是押头韵，”他解释说。在这之前，游戏使用的一直是开发过程中的代称，也就是“Lunch（午餐）”。
如果是系列游戏，取名就更需要技巧了。参与讨论的大家一致认为，如果开发者们希望建立一个强大的品牌，延长游戏的寿命，那么可能要避免直接用数字来命名同一系列的产品。“在打算发行Sally’s Salon的续作时，我们本来可能直接起名为Sally’s Salon 2，但是我们最后决定起名为Sally’s Spa，”Shatford说。“我们想着不一样的名字可能更容易让玩家产生购买Sally’s Salon的欲望，因为有些人看到Sally’s Salon 2这个名字可能就会觉得前作也是大致相同的，没有必要再购买一个古早版本。”
Last Day of Work创始人Arthur Humphrey说他们给Virtual Villagers系列的游戏都起了副标题，由此来延长前面那些游戏的寿命。“《帝国时代》系列都是用数字命名的，所以当《帝国时代3》上架时，《帝国时代2》就下架了，我们并不想要这样。”Humphrey说。
Playrix业务开发副总Sean Elliot解释说，要是把这个游戏命名为Fishdom 2，这会让玩家产生错误的期待。如果用户想看到的是更多的三消内容，他们看到游戏的真面貌时会非常失望。Playrix最终把这个游戏命名为 Fishdom H2O: Hidden Odyssey，暗示了它采用的是寻物谜题机制。
在开发者们确定了名字之后，还有关键的一点需要考虑——它在其它语言背景下是否有意义或者产生歧义。Fortugno分享了他们多年前开发的一款跟Lego Spybotics有关的游戏，其中涉及到病毒（virus）。“德语译员表示这个名字太可怕了，说我们不能用virus这个词，”他说。“在德语中，这个词的意思是’疾病（disease）’，具体是指跟站街女和性有关的疾病。这个游戏到德国就会被理解成Spybotics: Attack of the AIDS，太糟糕了。”
Reflexive的街机游戏制作人Terri Hardie强调了跟目标市场母语者核对的重要性，要确保游戏名字没有什么歧义。她回忆说，她不得不向一个母语不是英语的开发者微妙地解释为什么不能把他的圣诞主题三消游戏命名为“Santa’s Huge Sack（圣诞老人的大礼包/蛋蛋）”。
An awkward name can put an otherwise fun game at a severe disadvantage. Just ask Cafe.com, the casual game developer of titles including… Mahjomino.
“Mahjomino was our first title, and we thought that since the game was a blend of mah-jong and dominoes, let’s just combine them,” said Cafe.com President Steve Shatford in a panel at Seattle’s Casual Connect conference. “The reason the name failed was that people couldn’t figure out how to pronounce it, and because of the awkwardness of name people had problems remembering it.
“A small percentage of the audience actually got the concept, but essentially it’s a failed name, and the bottom line is that we should have called it something else.”
One of Diner Dash creator Nick Fortugno’s early games was the serious game Ayiti: The Cost of Life. “Ayiti” is the word for Haiti in the country’s native language, which is interesting, but the word has no recognizability otherwise and as a result the game was extremely hard to search for and find. Another lesson learned.
Speaking on a panel at the Seattle conference, Shatford, Fortugno and other developers shared stories and advice about how to select great game names.
Fortugno (who is currently co-founder and chief creative officer at Rebel Monkey) said his team came up with the name Diner Dash. during a frantic brainstorm two weeks before the restaurant-themed time management games was scheduled to launch. “We chose the name because of the alliteration,” he explained. Up until that point, the game was referred to by its working title, Lunch.
Fortugno cited his background in literature as an inspiration to consider the importance of things like cadence, rhythm and alliteration when picking a name. “I think alliteration gets ragged on a lot, but this is an old technique and it’s all about using language. You can find alliteration all through literature, from the first line of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to hiphop. It’s not an accident that people keep doing this.”
GamesCafe.com’s first really successful game was Sally’s Salon. “What made the name really neat,” said Shatford, “was that everyone could pronounce ‘Sally,’ everyone knows what a hair salon is, and the alliteration helps with memorization. People had no problem understanding what the game was about, and so many people come out of a hair salon feeling great that there was already a positive association with the game.”
Naming games gets trickier when it comes to sequels. Panelists agreed that developers looking to build a strong brand and extend their games’ shelf lives may want to stay away from simply numbering games 2, 3, 4 and so on. “When we did the sequel toSally’s Salon, we could have called it Sally’s Salon 2, but we called it Sally’s Spa,” said Shatford. “We thought people would be more inclined to buy Sally’s Salon too, because they wouldn’t think that sequel was aged content.”
Last Day of Work founder Arthur Humphrey said his company subtitled (as opposed to numbering) its Virtual Villagers games as a way of extending the shelf-life of previous games in the series. “Age of Empires always uses numbers, so when Age of Empires 3 comes out, Age of Empires 2 gets removed from the shelves, and we don’t want that.” Humphrey said.
Playrix Entertainment had a unique challenge in naming the spin-off sequel to Fishdom, a match-3 puzzle game with a fish-raising aquarium meta-game. The spin-off kept the aquarium but replaced match-3 with hidden object gameplay.
The danger of calling the spin-off/sequel Fishdom 2, explained Playrix VP of Business Development Sean Elliot, was that it could create false expectations. If audiences went in expecting more match-3, they would be disappointed. Playrix settled on the name Fishdom H2O: Hidden Odyssey, a name that referenced the game’s sequel status with a reference to its “hidden” object gameplay.
Once developers have settled on a name, there’s one more important point to consider: whether it makes sense in other languages. Fortugno shared the story of a game he developed many years ago based on Lego Spybotics that involved viruses. “German translators called us horrified and said we couldn’t use the word virus,” he said. “In German, the word means ‘disease,’ but disease specifically associated with women on the street and sex. It would have been bad to launch in German as Spybotics: Attack of the AIDS.”
Similarly, Playrix was told by its German partner to think about renaming Fishdom because in German “dom” means a church, so it sounded like “fish-church,” which could cause confusion since the game had nothing to do with churches. (Playrix decided to stick with the original name because it was already a successful and recognizable brand online.)
Terri Hardie, Arcade Producer at Reflexive, stressed the importance of checking with native speakers to make sure a game’s name doesn’t have any hidden meanings. She described having to delicately explain to a developer whose first language wasn’t English why he couldn’t call his Christmas-themed match-3 game Santa’s Huge Sack.