August 20, 2008

What’s in a name?

Another post to say I aten’t dead. One month to go on the PhD write-up, and everything still feels only half done. Still, you’ve got to submit with the thesis you have, not the thesis you’d like to have. I’ll be in crunch mode from now until mid-September. I’ll still be posting now and again on the forums so I have some contact with the outside world, but don’t expect such luxuries as “coherence” in the stuff I type in the next few weeks, m’kay?

The only game related stuff I’ve done in the last month or two has been business planning related. Since I’m the only one who needs the whole plan I’m using a personal wiki on my computer for the planning. It’s great at the moment as it’s very informal, and if an idea pops in my head I can quickly jot it down so I can focus on other things, safe that the idea is recorded. These personal wikis are great for any non-linear document, and I only wish I started using them earlier.

The other business related thing I’ve been doing is more brainstorming of business names. Since I’ll be operating on-line I’ve made it a rule that whatever name I own must also have the dot-com web address available. I’d also prefer it if I didn’t have to tack an extra word like “Games” on the end, like having to register because is already taken. I don’t particular mind having something like “games” or “studios” at the end, but it does make it longer and it also limits me to using the business name in one area; if I decide to branch out to do a bit of consulting on the side I’d probably need a second name.

Unfortunately I’m bad at picking names. I spent ages trying to decide on “Trapper Zoid” for example. A good name needs to be memorable, relatively unique yet identifiable and spellable, represent something about you that you want to project to others. And on top of all that it needs to something you can live with for a while without you hating it.

My current plan is to register half a dozen or so dot-com address (already done) and then sit on them for a couple of months while I finish up my studies and set things up. During this extra time I can mull over the names in my subconscious and try them out on random people until I get a good feeling over which name I like the best. Then I’ll register that one as my business name. I’ll also have a few backups which I think are almost as good in case something goes awry when registering.

I’ve currently got three names that I think would be workable. However an issue has cropped up: while I like all three names and think any of them could be suitable, they all do project a slightly different image. Ideally I’d like to pick the name that projects the image closest to what I want the business to be, however I’m currently quite flexible about that. I don’t particular need on an artistic level to make a specific sort of game; I like nearly all genres and would love to work on any of them. So it’s not as if there’s an obvious choice based on my future vision of where I want to be.

I reckon that something as simple as the choice of name I go with could shape the future direction of the business. The choice of name will shape the logo I make, which will in turn shape the coloration and style of the webpage. And since I’ll be spending a lot of time working with that logo and style, it’s bound to have some effect on my inspiration and creativity. A certain style could suggest playful, cartoonish casual games, or it might skew me towards stylish niche indie games instead.

But then again, it could just be that deep down in my subconscious there’s a particular direction I want to go in that I don’t realise, and that my preference in name will reflect that. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? It’s an interesting question.

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