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Subject: Should Game Names Be Capitalized? rss

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p55carroll
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I don't expect this to become the hottest topic around, but it's a niggling thing that has been on my mind lately.

We capitalize the names of published games like Twilight Struggle because they're proper nouns. But according to Webster's, we don't usually capitalize the names of public-domain games like chess, poker, and backgammon.

I was just looking in the "Yahoo! Style Guide," where I thought I had seen a rule that said all game names should be capitalized. But actually it just says game titles should be capitalized. It doesn't say what to do with games that don't have titles--like checkers, bridge, and go.

Out in the world, it's never enough of a problem to worry anybody. But here in BGG we're naming games all the time. So we run into places where capitalization seems helpful even if it's not called for. Because of that, I've lately been starting to capitalize the names of all games in my posts.

One weirdness is Go (there I just called up the BGG database name, where game names are capped). "Go" is a short, common English word, and it can be at least momentarily confusing to see the name of the game in a sentence with a lowercase "g." Even when capped, that name is odd; it's apt to make people think of cribbage's "Go" or Monopoly's "Go" or games like Stop & Go.

Bridge is another game whose name is also a common word. Sometimes I feel obliged to call it Contract Bridge. At minimum, I want to use a capital B.

If we follow the standard rules, Chutes and Ladders gets caps, but snakes and ladders does not. And just look how hard that is to read! No quotation marks or anything.

So, capping the names of all games seems like a good idea--up to a point. But I have misgivings about that too. If I write about people playing Chess, some readers are going to think, Wait--chess isn't a published game with a title; it's a public-domain game. Why is it capped? That's wrong.

Guess there's no easy answer. Whatever I do, it'll seem odd in some instances to some readers. So, I guess I'll just go back to following the rules. But before I do, I'm going to post this and see if anyone else has opinions on the matter.
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Hilko Drude
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Capitalizing the names seems like a good idea to me. If a majority of people does it, the dictionaries will change eventually.

Or you can adopt the beautiful german Habit and capitalize all Nouns (but not Adjectives such as german). Problem solved.
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I capitalise game names. The only exceptions being generic names: so Stud Poker vs poker. If I was referring to Chess and Shogi together, I might call them "chess games".
If a game has a published title that uses a lowercase initial letter, I would not capitalise - and now I am trying to think of an example.
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I believe game titles are capitalized but not names depicting a style or type of game. I assume the difference would be something such as:

We played chess on Saturday, it was the best day ever!

vs.

We played Patrick Carroll's Chess on Saturday, it was the best day ever!

As a general rule if in doubt you can always type in all capital letters and use many exclamation marks. You will come across as very passionate, but it's a good way to dare proper grammar to stand in your way.

Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Matt Morgan
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According to modern style guides, game names should capitalized AND italicized.
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p55carroll
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gundabad wrote:
According to modern style guides, game names titles should capitalized AND italicized.
FTFY. I'm an editor, and I use style guides all the time. I've never seen such a rule applied to the names of games like chess, checkers, poker, bridge, backgammon, etc. It applies only to the titles of published games such as Monopoly, Careers, Dominion, and Settlers of Catan.

And the italics are typically not used online, but only in print. The Yahoo! Style Guide (a good online manual) specifically says not to use italics or quotation marks, but just to capitalize the game titles.

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jones8314 wrote:
We played chess on Saturday, it was the best day ever!

vs.

We played Patrick Carroll's Chess on Saturday, it was the best day ever!

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Okay. These should be:

"We played chess on Saturday; it was the best day ever!"

"We played Patrick Carroll's Chess on Saturday; it was the best day ever!"




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Mark L
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
So, capping the names of all games seems like a good idea--up to a point. But I have misgivings about that too. If I write about people playing Chess, some readers are going to think, Wait--chess isn't a published game with a title; it's a public-domain game. Why is it capped? That's wrong.
Why should that mean it isn't capitalised? It's the name of a specific game, so to my mind it should be capitalised just like the name of any other specific thing. My name, your name, a city's or country's name, a river's or sea's name...

I suppose you could make an argument that those are all specific, individual objects, while "chess" isn't ... but that would equally apply to Monopoly or Twilight Struggle.


ETA: but this is mainly important in fairly formal contexts: I don't think there's any need to capitalise obsessively on an internet forum!
 
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Quote:
But actually it just says game titles should be capitalized. It doesn't say what to do with games that don't have titles--like checkers, bridge, and go.

Is "chess" (or "Chess") not the title of the game we call "chess" (or "Chess")?

There seems a hidden assumption that "title" implies "commercially published" or something...?
 
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Yes, they are names, so they should be capitalized (but not the articles and prepositions, of course).
 
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p55carroll
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xipuloxx wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
So, capping the names of all games seems like a good idea--up to a point. But I have misgivings about that too. If I write about people playing Chess, some readers are going to think, Wait--chess isn't a published game with a title; it's a public-domain game. Why is it capped? That's wrong.
Why should that mean it isn't capitalised? It's the name of a specific game, so to my mind it should be capitalised just like the name of any other specific thing. My name, your name, a city's or country's name, a river's or sea's name...
It's just not how (formal) English works. The gods on Mount Olympus get a lowercase "g," but God (of the Bible) gets a capital G. If we speak of planet Earth in relation to Mars and other planets, it gets a capital E, but when we talk about being down-to-earth or traveling all over the earth, it gets a lowercase "e." Trademark words like "Sheetrock" and "Xerox" and "Band-Aid" are capitalized, but their ordinary counterparts like "drywall," "copier," and "bandage" are not. A good dictionary tells us which words are capitalized (but some are only "often cap"). And style manuals give further guidance (often, but not always, agreeing with each other).

In my copy of Webster's, "chess," "checkers," "bridge," etc. are all lowercased.

Informally, anything goes. But some of us try to observe the rules so as to keep communication clear.
 
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russ wrote:
Quote:
But actually it just says game titles should be capitalized. It doesn't say what to do with games that don't have titles--like checkers, bridge, and go.
Is "chess" (or "Chess") not the title of the game we call "chess" (or "Chess")?

There seems a hidden assumption that "title" implies "commercially published" or something...?
The distinction isn't whether or not it's commercially published. There's plenty of manufacturers who sell their own version of chess.

The question is whether something is general enough to become part of the general lexicon. Nobody would say that you should write, "We played Cards the other night" (well, maybe the Germans would). But cards is a generically understood type of game. Similarly, you would write, "We played a board game" or, "We played a worker placement game." Chess, checkers, and the like are generically-understood games that would warrant capitization when you're talking about a variant. "We played Bughouse Chess the other night." Similarly, I'd say it would be correct to capitalize Duplicate Bridge or Contract Bridge whereas bridge on its own is just fine.
 
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Ozludo wrote:
I capitalise game names. The only exceptions being generic names: so Stud Poker vs poker. If I was referring to Chess and Shogi together, I might call them "chess games".
If a game has a published title that uses a lowercase initial letter, I would not capitalise - and now I am trying to think of an example.



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Chess isn't capitalized for the same reasons football isn't me thinks.
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p55carroll
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General_Norris wrote:
Chess isn't capitalized for the same reasons football isn't me thinks.
Right. We don't capitalize "football," but we do capitalize Football Strategy.
 
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Now the question is: Why isn't football capitalized?
 
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Would you say that using the incorrect case is a capital offense?
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p55carroll
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General_Norris wrote:
Now the question is: Why isn't football capitalized?
Because soccer isn't.
 
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Ok ,guys, I thought about it and dicussed it with a fellow writer and my editor and this is what I've gathered, with a bit of my opinion thrown in.


In normal speech very common game names aren't capitalized.

This explains why Mus is capitalized in English but not in Spanish. It also explains why Go or Shogi are sometimes capitalized yet Senet never is.


After that, it's a matter of style. For example, the style we use in Snackbar Games capitalizes Chess because it's a game but it's not a trademark or commercial product so it isn't italiced.


Hope that helps
 
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gmoralesor wrote:
Ozludo wrote:
I capitalise game names. The only exceptions being generic names: so Stud Poker vs poker. If I was referring to Chess and Shogi together, I might call them "chess games".
If a game has a published title that uses a lowercase initial letter, I would not capitalise - and now I am trying to think of an example.




And another:



meeple
 
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Russ Williams
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In the other extreme, there are those games with titles in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (even though they are not abbreviations), e.g. GIPF, TZAAR, etc.
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As an ex-newspaper (remember those?!) journalist and sub editor it was part of my job to edit and update style guides for all manner of audiences.

Put simply, a specific style (eg caps or not on game names) should be created for each specific audience and not considered to be an all-encompassing solution (such as the Yahoo reference).

A specialist audience such as BGG already has its own language (emoticons are used widely for example to emphasise someone's opinion ), so you're well within your rights to be choosing your own practical naming system.

With regard to product names, the simple truth is that it all changed 15-20 years or so ago when those clever marketing folk started to enjoy breaking every rule and convention known to man to get their new PlayStation, iPhone, EE, or gr8 Nu Ide8 remembered by their adoring customer base.

Consumer copywriting is an absolute mess of made up words and style shifts. I mean who allowed all those exclamation marks in Zombies!!! And who slipped that naughty number at the front of 7 Wonders?.

The simple truth is that because most publications are beholden to their advertisers and sponsors they tend to tow the line and mirror the crazy naming styles that a sponsor or product requests. This all makes it rather tough (read: impossible) to choose a single style for names without falling over yourself after two or three examples.

The cool thing about choosing a style for a particular audience is that there's no right or wrong, just as long as the publication (eg, Eric's BGG news posts) stick to their chosen style. Unfortunately, I think you're probably piddling in the wind if you expect the zillions of forum users to adopt a naming style, but if I had to vote I'd go for lower case everything when chatting and exactly-how-it-is-on-the-box for searching

(BTW: does anyone else struggle with board game name searches on the Geek - I'm ashamed to say I often find it easier to google Geeklist topics, discussion threads, and even fiddly game names from outside these hallowed halls as they more often than not point straight back to the place you were trying to find from within!).

Actually, I vote we try and get apostrophes correct before caps... If I read another back in the 80's in a post, or an apostrophe used to create a plural: Cheap MOT's I'll curl up and die. I know, I know, I'm just old and farty, and education now favours teaching a screen swipe on Angry Birds over boring punctuation...

... [nurse administers calming injection]
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willsargent wrote:
Actually, I vote we try and get apostrophes correct before caps... If I read another back in the 80's in a post, or an apostrophe used to create a plural: Cheap MOT's I'll curl up and die.
I would be happy if people would quit saying stuff like "He visited my friend and I" or "Recommend a game for my wife and I". Most English speakers know that "He visited I" and "Recommend a game for I" are wrong, yet somehow when another person gets added to the mix, they bizarrely think it must always be "another person and I", even when they're an object, not a subject.

Interestingly, that's an error which surprisingly many native English speakers make, but learners of English as a second language generally don't make this mistake!

PS: More BGG users should read Common English Mistakes before posting. A lot of them are game-related, e.g. lose/loose, roll/role, cavalry/calvary, etc...
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Hey Russ, we could talk all day, but without derailing this interesting thread please add whilst/while and amongst/among to that one. To add to the confusion all modern-thinking style guides (UK newspapers etc) use among and while, whereas the BBC news (the bloody BBC!) still use amongst.

I was always taught the rule of thumb should be: "how do most people [of this audience type]currently like writing/reading/saying this when they're chatting down the pub?"

So I suppose, in defence of the Beeb, many folk do still say 'amongst' and even 'my wife and I' even though it sounds like the former should only be used in films featuring the Knights of the Round Table.

[nurse administer further injections...]
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