There are thousands of new games that get released every year, while many of us continue to enjoy classic titles. Each one needs a name to make it unique and to help potential players find it in online marketplaces.
Most of us don’t really spend much time thinking about the name of the game itself, instead, our focus is often what we should call our characters with lots of inspiration available for games like D&D.
However, perhaps we should spend a little more time thinking about the games themselves. Some have pretty plain names, but others have monikers that have much more interesting backstories.
Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto is one of the best-selling video game franchises in the world. Few titles can attract as much excitement when a new release is announced by its developer.
However, GTA was not the original name for this game. In the early days of its development, DMA Design (the precursor to Rockstar) was working on a game called Race’n’Chase. It was an isometric cops and robbers game.
Players would try to lose the tail of a chasing police car as they drove around a top-down city. A bug in a test version of the game made the cops more aggressive, but players found this more fun.
As the game was added to, the name was changed to be more fitting with the simulated crime sprees that players would engage in. The chosen title was Grand Theft Auto, an American law that criminalises “taking someone’s car without their permission with the intent of permanently or significantly depriving the owner of it”.
Of course, there are many worse crimes you can commit in the game, but carjacking is so entrenched in its mechanics that it is very fitting.
Roulette is one of the oldest games that are still enjoyed today. You can find it in almost every casino in the world, though each region can often have its own unique variant. For example, European roulette uses a wheel with 37 pockets, while American roulette adds an additional one to improve the house edge.
Online casinos have helped to make the game popular today by offering different versions of roulette for their customers to choose from, including the two continental variants listed above, as well as options like a high roller and 20p roulette.
One thing that most players probably don’t realise when they play roulette is that the game was actually created by accident. French inventor Blaise Pascal was trying to create a perpetual motion machine in the 17th century, and while he didn’t have much success with his original aim, he did accidentally stumble on the game.
He named it roulette because it means “little wheel” in French, a word that perfectly sums it up while sounding sophisticated.
Mario is a video game franchise that almost everyone has played at some point. Of course, it shares its name with the lead character, a moustachioed Italian plumber who wears a red cap, blue dungarees, and white gloves.
But Mario as a character and a name are a strange creation for a Japanese video game company to create. It is reported that Nintendo had originally wanted to use Popeye, but it was unable to secure the licensing rights.
In the famous spinach-eating sailor’s place, Nintendo created “Jumpman” for the protagonist in Donkey Kong. Mario was originally created as a carpenter for his first appearance, keeping with the construction site theme of the game, though he was switched to a plumber shortly afterwards.
The choice of profession was to make Mario appear as a “hard worker” that the players could identify with.
That still doesn’t explain the name Mario. The reason behind Nintendo’s choice is actually even stranger. In the 1980s, the company was renting a warehouse in Washington from an American businessman named Mario Segale. Segale was born to Italian parents and worked in construction and real estate for most of his working life.
Real-life Mario reportedly came to collect overdue rent one day and got into a heated discussion with the company’s president. Witnessing the tirade, Nintendo’s staff decided to rename Jumpman after Segale.
Although this had been rumoured for much longer, Nintendo officially confirmed that its most-famous character had been named after their former landlord in 2015.