Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

11 January, 2007

Proper usage, or, recognizing games as a “real” media.
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:08 AM

Get ready to edit your dogeared copy of Strunk and White, because here’s a new rule for you: When writing out the names of games, treat them like you treat book or movie titles. On webpages, that means you put things in italics. Examples:

Business & Legal Primer for Game Development
Pan’s Labyrinth (Saw it last night, good movie.)
Meridian 59

You probably learned to underline book and movie titles, but that’s only in cases when you’re writing by hand and can’t do proper italics.

Why? Because it’s a subtle way of reminding people that games are valid works of art, just like books or movies. I know this is a lot to ask of some people who barely know where the shift key is when beginning sentences, but I know there are some people who take writing seriously that read this blog. If I can get a few of you to do this, and perhaps lecture the people you know, then it could be a nice subversive way to change minds on this. I think it’s important that we start focusing on details like this, especially when the legitimacy of our medium is continuously questioned.

I felt the need to make this post because it seems few people put this into practice. For example, Raph italicizes book titles on his blog, but not game names. I’m putting this tidbit here not so much to make fun of him, but because he might come back to this post while checking referrers. ;)

Seriously, though, I think it’s an important step in showing people the importance of our medium. And, please pardon me if I’ve forgotten to follow my own advice. I am only human, and my job is just to come up with the good ideas. :)







10 Comments »

  1. I tend to do this as it helps the flow of the sentence to indicate when a title of anything is being used.

    Doing it to legitimatize games is an angle I hadn’t considered, but can absolutely get behind.

    I suppose, if I wanted to be completely XML about it, I’d create a ‘title’ class for and define the italic, font-size, color, etc in CSS. Perhaps in my next WordPress theme…

    Comment by Corvus — 11 January, 2007 @ 6:45 AM

  2. Thanks, this is a good idea. I’ll start trying to adhere to this…

    Comment by Jetro Lauha — 11 January, 2007 @ 7:01 AM

  3. I think it is a bit early for this. Not that I do not support your underground guerrilla movement…but I still say it is a bit too early.

    Two reasons…

    a) The consumers of the entertainment do not seem to be concerned with the game or game industry’s intrinsic artistic viability. I don’t see the gamers discussing the dramatic, cultural, or emotional value of the medium. We just don’t talk like that about games like we do about movies, books, songs or art…they all get the nod. But not games.

    b) The games themselves have not really step up to that plate. And there is a reason…the game wouldn’t sell. The consumer doesn’t want a lesson in emotional, dramatic, cultural, thought provoking exercise. He wants to be entertained. So, as of yet, there have been very few attempts to make “art”.

    I was an art student before I moved on to wasting my life in even less constructive ways…we did the full on “message” thing…for the sake of hitting buttons. There was a really good “abortion” piece during a senior show once. Yeah…that was thought provoking. Hit buttons. Made people ask questions and discuss. Effected people in some way…positively or negatively. Of course it had a bloody coat hanger in it…but that was just dressing.

    Where is that in games? It’s not. GTA is not art. Neither is Gears of War. Neither is this Super Columbine game. They are entertainment and marketing ploys. They are “games”. And some of them have enlisted a shock element to get publicity and increase their market foot print. Shock alone does not art make.

    Sorry, we are just not there yet. Do I think we will be. Sure. Probably sooner than later. Someone will start to find a way to sneak in some real emotion. Real drama. Will cultural viability that forces the consumer to face questions…and find answers…and open discussion for something other than frame rate…

    cl

    P.S. Sorry I sort of jack your comment thread with such a large…um…comment.

    Comment by cl — 11 January, 2007 @ 9:04 AM

  4. My S&W is at home, but I’ve always thought all titles get underlined/italicized. For example, the Mona Lisa, the USS Constitution, or even The United States Constitution. (Personal titles (Mr., Doctor, Mayor, etc) don’t get underlines.)

    Good reminder. I’m sure I’ve racked up my share of violations.

    Comment by Amber — 11 January, 2007 @ 9:15 AM

  5. Funny story: I actually had italicized and capitalized ALL the game titles in the book (including “Chess” for example) and the copy editor questioned it, and in the end won because it was non-standard usage.

    For a period last year, I was italizicing the games, but then I got loosey-goosey too. I think in the various articles on the site, it’s inconsistent too…

    Comment by Raph — 11 January, 2007 @ 9:37 AM

  6. Still: italics or underline, his point stands.

    Comment by Michael Chui — 11 January, 2007 @ 1:28 PM

  7. Yes, you’re right – it absolutely should be done.
    Not all games are art. Neither are all films or books.

    But take something like _Planescape: Torment_. It’s sure as HECK art!

    Comment by Andrew Crystall — 11 January, 2007 @ 6:13 PM

  8. I agree with you Brian.

    I was an art student before I moved on to wasting my life in even less constructive ways…we did the full on “message” thing…for the sake of hitting buttons. There was a really good “abortion” piece during a senior show once. Yeah…that was thought provoking. Hit buttons. Made people ask questions and discuss. Effected people in some way…positively or negatively. Of course it had a bloody coat hanger in it…but that was just dressing.

    Where is that in games? It’s not. GTA is not art. Neither is Gears of War. Neither is this Super Columbine game. They are entertainment and marketing ploys. They are “games”. And some of them have enlisted a shock element to get publicity and increase their market foot print. Shock alone does not art make.

    So uh, how is a bloody coat hanger not shock alone? Seriously. This is the kind of attitude that is dangerous for games if we want to see them protected as art/speech. There’s a lot of art to GTA:SA, although I’d argue a large part of it is parody and very dark humor. Moreover, there’s the actual art elements of the game. If entertaiment != art, then I’m sure there’s quite a few authors of popular fiction that would disagree with you. Even when semi-rational, culture-snob, non-philistines make judgments of highbrow vs. lowbrow, they call both art.

    Comment by Matt Hector — 12 January, 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  9. I’ll try to go along with this. No guarantees that I’ll be at all successful. ;)

    Comment by Ryan Shwayder — 12 January, 2007 @ 8:13 PM

  10. I do this on my own blog, and in any book chapters, papers and articles I write. It never occurred to me not to do it!

    I don’t always do it for the small number of games which for reasons that escape me don’t get to be capitalised as proper nouns, eg. chess (rather than Chess). I also don’t always do it situations when I probably wouldn’t italicise a book or a movie title, for example when I can’t be bothered to look up what the formatting characters are.

    Richard

    Comment by Richard — 13 January, 2007 @ 6:24 AM

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