His name is Albert Ross…

I wonder what was the last thing you named?

Your goldfish? Your new car? That ever-dependable paperclip on your desk?

I remember my sister had a long friendship with a spider Boris who lived in her car’s wing mirror…

Well, today we’ll be starting off a new series related to some of the joys and challenges of game design that I’ve come across during the development of The Animal Games and perhaps some of the joys and challenges of parenting interspersed.

So if you’re here for a review of a children’s board game then I apologise, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that Christmas haul before long…

Christmas Haul.png

The Christmas Haul for the boys

Today though, let’s don our parenting sombrero AND our business bobble hat as we think about a taxing issue that’s unceremoniously invading my professional and personal life at the moment – namely naming children…


Help me name my children…

I remember that feeling of sheer horror 4 years ago when Verity first confronted me with a fresh copy of “40,0001 Best Baby Names” and announced “TC – we need to choose a name…”

I sat wide-eyed in disbelief as it gradually dawned on me that I had a 50% chunk of the responsibility for deciding what our child would be called. Their actual name… The one word that would be said more than any other in their life and would become a central part of their identity.

Well, Verity is due to have our third baby in a couple of months and so the clouds of doubt and despair are gathering once again and that baby on the book spine has started to eerily eyeball me from his vantage point on the bookshelf once again.


Baby is watching you…

The problem is that there are so many questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a name for your child… Is it too common? Too weird? Does it sound good? What are the obvious (and not-obvious) abbreviations and nicknames? How does it fit with the surname? Will it be easy for them to spell? What does the name mean? What about the initials? What will our family think? Do we know any other children with that name? The list goes on and suddenly you feel like the list of names that are actually reasonable grows thin.

One name I really liked for a girl was ‘Ida’, but then we realised ‘Ida Clare’ was the start of a sentence… My wife was upset that I’ve ruined ‘Esme’ for her forever because whenever she mentioned it, I’d say “Esme favourite name” in a country accent… And she’s already trampled over my life long ambition of calling a son ‘Albert Ross Clare’…

And then there’s the fact that baby name books have become embroiled in a distasteful arms race as to how many names they can include in their book. I find myself imagining that moment in the writing of “40,0001 Best Baby Names” where Diane Stafford starts searching through her fridge trying to find something else to buck up the numbers…


Meet my children Bacon and Badger…

And yet somewhere in amongst all that rubbish was the name of our first child. Like a tiny, elegant needle in a giant haystack of Moon-Units, Diogenes’ and Chubbys… And so we resolved that we had no choice but to hunt our name down by a mind-numbing process of dutifully reading every single name and compiling a running shortlist.

Boys' names.png

They were in there…

And somehow, after hours of grudging labour, we found the names for both of our boys.

We’ve not found out the gender again for this pregnancy, but if there was one temptation, it would be cutting all this pre-baby admin in half. I’m not sure I can face going through that whole book again.

And now for an update on the saga of naming my other child – a child that has had 2 names already, but is now in need of a third.

In a development that I’d term ‘a bit of a nightmare’, someone has registered a UK board game trademark for “The Animal Game” which is remarkably similar to the name of my design, “The Animal Games”. Now this  trademark was registered after my design was finished and without any other indication that such a thing existed, which is frustrating. Being similar enough to cause confusion, this would put me in violation of copyright law if I were to go ahead and launch on Kickstarter with that name in 2017 and so (for the second time, after previous legal concerns over the use of the title “Animalympics”), I will have to choose a new name AGAIN. Bit of a nightmare, no?

Box contents spread

At least in this case, I know what it is. I know its character, what it represents. It feels a bit like renaming your child on their 18th birthday. Now a good game name also needs to tick several boxes, just like a child’s name. It should convey a feel for the theme and capture the imagination of the audience. It should roll satisfyingly off the tongue and ideally lend itself to some graphic design trickery to bring in some thematic elements to the logo (see the “I” torch in the picture above). And then for any potential title candidate come some familiar questions…

Is it different enough? Or too out there? How would it be abbreviated? Would it be obvious how to spell it in search engines? What does it bring to mind? What about the initials? What will the playtesters think? Are there other games with a similar name? Has anyone registered a secret trademark…?

And I feel that familiar sense of crippling responsibility in finding a name that truly does it justice…

Well, such is my disillusionment with naming decisions, I’ll be looking for feedback from the gaming community (through Facebook board game groups, Twitter and BoardGameGeek) to try and establish which of the options for the game title stand up most strongly against this wave of questions and hopefully in that way I can spread the burden of responsibility over the shoulders of as many people as possible. This will be allied to a game giveaway competition to engender the motivation I am lacking so watch this space…

If it works, maybe we’ll be on to a winning strategy to choose a name for baby. Not sure how else we’ll be able to make the call between Bacon and Badger…

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever named? Do you have a child or game-naming horror story?

Feel free to post in the comments, or you can find me on Twitter on @TeeceBIG or you can send an email to TC@bigimaginationgames.com.


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