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Subject: What's in a name? rss

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catty_ big
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Names are extremely important, for people, places and things. Your name often tells other people things about you, such as your ethnicity, place of origin and class. Many people choose to call themselves by a different name when they get older bc they don't identify with one they were given at birth. Likewise car manufacturers, hotels, and food and drink companies etc. go to great lengths to come up with suitable names for their products. As such, the choice of name for your game is all important, and many considerations go into the eventual decision. But what do you do when there's already a game out there with a similar name?

Someone brought this up in a thread on BGG WIPs forum for a game I'm currently working on, provisionally entitled Pingo! My initial response was to point out that nowadays it's virtually impossible to come up with a name that's unique, or at least not very common, or sufficiently dissimilar to that of an existing game. I also put forward the view that it's not a problem if the theme and type of game are sufficiently dissimilar as to not muddy the waters. But when I looked for other games of a similar name I found seven.

Three points arise from this: one, if other publishers have given their game the same name as that several other games, then why shouldn't I? Secondly, there are two games with that name published in the same year - 2015 - and one eight years ago, and yet another as far back as 1991, which suggests that its very possible for a number of games with the same name to co-exist. Thirdly, my criterion of dissimilarity of type and theme is satisfied, since all the other games except mine have something to do with penguins. However, I can see that a plethora of games with similar names could indeed make online searches difficult, giving rise to customer frustration, and secondly, whilst my game having no connection with penguins could be an advantage in terms of copyright issues, people browsing it in a shop or online may be confused into thinking that it was about penguins and be disappointed to find that it isn't.

So my question is this: do folks think the similarity of the name Pingo! to several existing games is enough of a problem to warrant my changing my game's name?
 
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Probably.
 
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marc lecours
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I am not an expert on copyright law, but I seem to remember that you can't copyright a game name. I might be wrong mind you. So legally it's OK to have the same name.

BUT I would hesitate using a name that's already being used for an existing game:

1. It creates confusion. As you pointed out people searching for your game will find the other games.

2. It creates confusion in the game stores. Especially in online game stores that carry another Pingo. An online game store might even hesitate to carry two kinds of Pingo (it would be a headache if customers ordered the wrong one.)

3. Imagine someone says that I should look into Pingo. I accidentally read one of the bad reviews for one of the other Pingos.

4. It shows a lack effort and creativity right off the bat. People will wonder why you made no effort to find a unique name.

5. Owners of the other Pingo games may dismiss yours as a new edition without further looking it up.

6. Imagine if I put out a new game that I called "Pandemic". This would piss off a lot of Pandemic lovers out there who would give my new game tons of "1" ratings here on BGG. They would give my game "hate comments" and "hate reviews".

On the other hand, if the other Pingo games were published a long time ago or had very few sales then most of the objections disappear. You may want to research how popular the other games were.

Personally I would look for another name. There are less than 100 000 games out there. There are plenty of good names left.
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Thanks for your input. All very good points, especially #6 - I don't want to become a target for haters!

rubberchicken wrote:
if the other Pingo games were published a long time ago or had very few sales then most of the objections disappear. You may want to research how popular the other games were.

Two came out last year, however the rest go back quite a way, with one dating from 1991.



rubberchicken wrote:
Personally I would look for another name. There are less than 100 000 games out there. There are plenty of good names left.

Oh sure, there are loads of useable names out there, but do they all capture the essence of one's game is what I'd question. But it's looking very much as if I'm going to have to change it, so I guess I should start thinking about it now. I may put up a poll here once I've assembled a few alternative candidates.
 
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Craig Somerton
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In such a crowded market - differentiation is critical.
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Brendan Riley
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BigCat97 wrote:
Oh sure, there are loads of useable names out there, but do they all capture the essence of one's game is what I'd question.


But for whom? Is it your assumption that most of the game playing audience knows the word/concept "Pingo" ? Because if someone doesn't know it, the term is a cognitive blank, and thus carries no "essence" of the game to the new person. And, for someone like me who has both heard of "Pingo Pingo" and knows nothing about the title, the waters are even more muddied.

Changing your name is probably for the best.
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Phil Vestal
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anomander64 wrote:
In such a crowded market - differentiation is critical.


Totally agree! It's probably a serious pain to come up with another name but if the game does well it's something you can really brand around and avoid the potential issues the posts above have mentioned.

I also like number 4 by marc lecours. It reminds me of Steve Jobs insisting that the inside of the product be as perfect as the outside even if nobody will see it. He knows what's in there. For me, if there is something out there with the name already, you are probably a super creative person if you have created a game and can come up with something completely original. It helps round out the originality and creativity of the product, even if nobody else knows there are similar names out there.

Just a thought!
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Jeremy Lennert
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rubberchicken wrote:
I seem to remember that you can't copyright a game name.

But you can trademark one.
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wombat929 wrote:
BigCat97 wrote:
Oh sure, there are loads of useable names out there, but do they all capture the essence of one's game is what I'd question.


But for whom? Is it your assumption that most of the game playing audience knows the word/concept "Pingo" ? Because if someone doesn't know it, the term is a cognitive blank, and thus carries no "essence" of the game to the new person. And, for someone like me who has both heard of "Pingo Pingo" and knows nothing about the title, the waters are even more muddied.

Forget Pingo, Pingo's gone; I've moved on already. To answer your question: it's easy enough to come up with a completely unique name, simply by generating one randomly, but I think it's natural for a designer to try to think of one that reflects the game's theme or something about the way it's played. The makers of Scrabble succeeded in that endeavour (I presume the name is taken from the act of scrabbling in the bag for one's tiles), whereas the creators of Boggle, Quirkle and Quiddler clearly didn't. To return to Pingo briefly, it's obviously what the designers of those games did, the urge to do so being so strong that all of them ignored the fact that it was already in use.

But yes, I need to come up with a new name. I went through a list of possible candidates earlier, and, having fed 'star' into Google translate to see what it was in various other languages, I now have quite an interesting selection: there's (among others) Xingo from Mandarin, Zvevgo via Russian, and Taago from Hindi. I think what I might do is give it something meaningless as a holding name, like Quago say, and, when it's ready to be shoved out the door, look at the some of the ones on my list, and fix on a name from whichever of them are still available... or I could stick with Quago. Watch this space!
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Phil Vestal
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BigCat97 wrote:
wombat929 wrote:
BigCat97 wrote:
Oh sure, there are loads of useable names out there, but do they all capture the essence of one's game is what I'd question.


But for whom? Is it your assumption that most of the game playing audience knows the word/concept "Pingo" ? Because if someone doesn't know it, the term is a cognitive blank, and thus carries no "essence" of the game to the new person. And, for someone like me who has both heard of "Pingo Pingo" and knows nothing about the title, the waters are even more muddied.

Forget Pingo, Pingo's gone; I've moved on already. To answer your question: it's easy enough to come up with a completely unique name, simply by generating one randomly, but I think it's natural for a designer to try to think of one that reflects the game's theme or something about the way it's played. The makers of Scrabble succeeded in that endeavour (I presume the name is taken from the act of scrabbling in the bag for one's tiles), whereas the creators of Boggle, Quirkle and Quiddler clearly didn't. To return to Pingo briefly, it's obviously what the designers of those games did, the urge to do so being so strong that all of them ignored the fact that it was already in use.

But yes, I need to come up with a new name. I went through a list of possible candidates earlier, and, having fed 'star' into Google translate to see what it was in various other languages, I now have quite an interesting selection: there's (among others) Xingo from Mandarin, Zvevgo via Russian, and Taago from Hindi. I think what I might do is give it something meaningless as a holding name, like Quago say, and, when it's ready to be shoved out the door, look at the some of the ones on my list, and fix on a name from whichever of them are still available... or I could stick with Quago. Watch this space!


Nice! I really like some of those names in other languages. I could definitely see one of them catching on, especially Xingo or Taago. Zvevgo is cool but might be on the more difficult end of the spectrum to pronounce correctly to be a good branding name.
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Pavestal wrote:
Nice! I really like some of those names in other languages. I could definitely see one of them catching on, especially Xingo or Taago. Zvevgo is cool but might be on the more difficult end of the spectrum to pronounce correctly to be a good branding name.

Thanks! Actually, Xingo is pronounced Shingo (it's written in Pinyin, a transliteration system whereby sounds in Mandarin are assigned Roman letters with the closest equivalent sound), so I'd probably have to rename it Shingo in order to avoid confusion, but it's quite a good anyway so I wouldn't mind. Take your point about words like Zvevgo - maybe a Russian edition?
 
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