What happened to the naming of games consoles?

My first ever console was an Atari 7800 (or 5200, can’t quite remember), soon with the addition of a Commodore 64. Whilst I wasn’t a gamer at this point, it was the start of my love affair with gaming. I then went on to own a range of consoles, namely the NES, Game Gear, Saturn and Game Boy Advance with my living room currently occupied by a Dreamcast, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable and Xbox 360 (plus if it counts, an Android smart phone… but that’s a rambling for another day). Today at E3 I learnt what the next year or so holds in terms of my console purchases and one thing strikes me, the names are just dire.

Looking back at the old console names, they are all rather geeky. Nintendo Entertainment System, Master System, Atari 7800 and Mega Drive are all names that wouldn’t sound out of place on a dodgy sci-fi film. Many console names had a distinct charm as well, in particular the Game Boy. Since then we’ve had a whole host of pretty shoddy console names. The Dreamcast, Gamecube, PlayStation and Wii are all pretty crap names for a console, at least in my opinion. The names don’t cry out “awesome high end gaming”. The Wii was of course intended to be different to the PlayStation and Xbox brands, appealing to family members. It does indeed sound a lot more child friendly… aside from the obvious immature jokes. Nonetheless, despite growing to accept the name I still don’t like it and don’t find it a natural name to use.

I’ve not disliked all console names over the past decade or so. The Xbox is a pretty cool name (it has an ‘x’ at the start and end!) and does have a good gaming ring to it, although they did trash that with the Kinect. Whilst I think the PlayStation is a god awful name (made worse by the Move), PS3 and PSP in their TLA form are rather cool names (albeit all too similar sounding) so when I heard that the name for Sony’s new handheld would be unveiled today, I was keen to hear what it was. I was rather gobsmacked when I heard the name; PlayStation Vita. It doesn’t sound like the powerful handheld games console that it intends to be in the slightest and what rather amuses me is that it is one letter short of the name for a certain dreadful product by Sony’s biggest rival in the world of gaming. Oh my, oh my. I felt Sony had set the standard for dreadful names for a long time to come. I was wrong.

Within 24 hours Nintendo had to outdo them with the Wii U. I get the whole “we play games”, “you play games” idea behind the name but seriously… Wii U? It sounds like the noise that a kid makes when playing police cars.

Leave a Reply