Renaming the Industry

The “video game” is a form of art/entertainment that is still only in the equivalent of its toddler years. As such, the gaming industry has been met with varying degrees of neophobic reactionism not at all dissimilar to the earlier responses to television, rock n’ roll, comics, heavy metal, certain genres of books, etc.

This, of course, is old news. I imagine that if you have been at all interested in “video games” and have had access to the internet over the past decade, you’ve probably read this very sentiment hundreds of times before. Why? Why after so much attention has the issue not gone away?

I feel the mainstream perception of “video games” has very much to do with the industry’s origins as a child-focused endeavor, and even though the scope of the business has broadened widely since then, people are still stuck with outmoded points-of-view.

It may very well be that the cause for this retarded (defined as delayed or impeded) view of the industry partially lies in the also-outdated terminology used to describe the medium. “Video games” (and now you understand my reason for using quotation marks) are no longer just a subset of toys and games. They are clearly distinguished from this crude classification by a number of more complex and meaningful characteristics — they are not just for kids anymore.

To remove the “toy” label from this product, a renaming of the medium is in order. How can we allow such a rich amalgam of productions to be identified so simply as “games”? The term “video game,” when broken down to its most simplistic definition, means ‘a game that is characterised by its visual properties.’ The content on the discs we insert into our consoles and computers every day are far more than that.


What then, should these pieces of software be called, if they are to be taken more seriously and treated with greater respect out there in the “real” world? Well, I have pondered this question for quite some time now, and being the type of person who takes a half-hour to name his role-playing-game protagonists, it was an unsurprisingly difficult task.

The proposed name could be anything. From a simple, made-up word to a carefully considered derivation from other terms, any combination of letters would suffice. I tend to gravitate toward a meaningful label, however, preferably alluding to some of the traits that define “video games” as we know them or may come to know them.

Following similar conventions, the word “movie” arose around 1910, it being a shortened version of the phrase “moving picture,” and the word “book” comes from the German term for beechwood trees. In order to rename “video games,” it first needs to be clear just what “video games” are.

Video games are:


Of course many other adjectives describe “video games,” and many other nouns incorporate them, but this list can serve as an example of some of the medium’s key attributes. To me, the most important words are “interactive” and “experience.” Video games are more than just entertainment, so I prefer the term experience, and their interactivity is what separates them from other mediums, so that descriptor is paramount. The word virtual may be useful as well, but I feel it may be unnecessary because the act of “gaming” is real even though the content itself is fictional. Instead, perhaps the word “thematic” better describes their content.

After generating such a list, though, a necessary consideration is that the designated label must be able to stand alone, without the use of preambles such as “piece of” or “work of.” Simple pluralization must also be possible, and it should not be a homophone or homonym of any existing word.

What I have come up with at this point is, well, nothing yet — but I am racking my brain to invent the perfect term.

While I may not have the revolutionary lexeme that will propel gaming past prepubescence, I do have my own input combined with the mental prowess of all of my fellow gamers, who may, after reading this article, agree that a change is necessary. If you have any good ideas, don’t hesitate to send them my way via a comment or email.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.