Board game reviews, news and commentary.
Wh@t'z In @ N@yme?
Head in the Clouds
Updated: Friday, Aug 14, 2015

Hi, I’m Russet Taupe, professional board game designer. I recently attended GenCon with several other designers, and, thanks to being left alone in a room with their luggage, I managed to come home with a copy of the white hot new game, Mysterium.

From a designer standpoint, it didn’t disappoint. No, I’m not talking about the gameplay, who cares about that, I’m talking about a game’s most important asset: its name. (Oh yeah!) See, when I first heard that the publisher was going to change the game’s title for the American version, I was discouraged. A unique name gives a game instant mind share. I mean, if someone asks you to play tha-am-Nietzsche do-mo-st-whoa, you know exactly what game they’re talking about.

But, at least the new name, Mysterium, continues the brilliant trend of unnecessarily cramming the letter “Y” into a possibly made-up word. That’s how you grab people’s attention in today’s marketplace! At least, it used to be. As with any really good idea, the market has inevitably become flooded by a sea of games sporting superfluous letters in their titles, such as Asteroyds, Xenoshyft, and Ylandyss. (Whose Y-saturated name proves my design theory that anything worth doing is worth overdoing.)

So, if anything, the name Mysterium doesn’t go far enough! It’s like I was telling Eric Lang while he was searching for his wallet. If you want your game to stand out in the marketplace, forget innovative mechanisms, original gameplay, or quality components. What you need is an indecipherable name that consumers won’t be able to correctly type into a search engine. That way, they’ll be forced to unplug from their online conversations and find your game by word of mouth! And the only thing that spreads faster than word of mouth are online conversations.

So, take the same advice I gave Eric while he was on the phone cancelling his lost credit cards, forget your Blood Rages or Arcadia Quests and bring on your Duelysts. But act fast, because the bar continues to be raised even higher. Need proof? Just check out the upcoming wisely named Suburbia expansion “Five Star”. That’s not the word “star” in the title, but an actual five pointed geometric shape. Try typing that into a search engine! That’ll wake you up!

It’s a strategy I’ll be employing in the title of my next game, “Pickpocket”, a game inspired by a recent encounter I had with a fellow designer at GenCon. You can tell this game’s going to be hot, because it’s going to be spelled with two Ys, four Qs and an upside down number four! (Oh yeah!)

(Looking through stolen wallet.) Reserve your copy today… somehow. Ooh, Eric’s a Virgo.

Share this article:

Help support Season 3!