Sunday, January 6, 2008

Videogames or Video Games?

Back at 1UP, and on EGM our in-house style sheet dictated that the correct spelling is "videogames" - one word. As far as I'm aware, it was a long-term legacy thing, and it was part of the style guide that I inherited when I took over EGM back in 1998. Personally, I've always liked the idea of it being a single word, and this is something echoed in comments from Bill Kunkel (one of the first games journalists) at a recent CGE panel. As reported by Chris Kohler from Game Life,

"It doesn't make sense grammatically, but that's how the industry spelled it and I always felt it reflected the unique nature of the medium. We spelled it that way in '78 and I never stopped. What I did not realize was that, over the years, a schism developed over the spelling. I didn't realize how deeply people felt about it until I suggested that we would adopt that one-word spelling."

When we launched What They Play, we adopted the same spelling and drew some commentary for including the word "videogame" in our tagline. After some chin-scratching and pondering, we've now decided to switch to two words. Yeah, yeah, big deal, I know. Who really cares? The logic, which I thought was kinda interesting though, was that Googling "videogames" returns 71.5 million results, while Googling "video games" returns 821 million. These days, when launching a new Website, you can't argue with numbers like that.

4 comments:

Peter Christian said...

Hi John,

Long time admirer of your journalistic stylings!
Sad to see you leave, but at least your still on "Yours" and your current work seems to me to be a really great initiative - although it wouldn't work out in Denmark - Danes are devoid of any moral scruples and let there kids play pretty much anything!

On the my point!

You bring up something interesting but there is also a slight flaw to your logic!

I'm a Danish game-journalist (don't really have any formal journalistic schooling but I lack a better word - and I get to be on 'telly' and tell people what I think about games so there...)

Danes tend to pair up words all the time...
So in Denmark it is actually correct when you spell it...

videospil

Danish is not really the first language of anything other than Hamlet-country, so that only brings up about 75.000 hits...

Whereas writing...

video spil

in the google search field gives a result just shy of 2 million hits!

Answer... you get a result without the words necessarily being next to one another, and so the hits can be completely unrelated to... well... videogames! :o)

If i put "" around the words it only yields some 2500 hits!

That's about it from me!

Keep up the good work!

/Peter (a fan I guess)

Ps. It'd be greatly appreciated if you could tell the 'Yours' crew that they rock, but Garnett and Shane should make nice soon... it's a little tiring to sit through their big-brother-vs-little-brotherish feuds! (let them argue about who gets to be the older brother)

;o)

Susan said...

This is the sort of thing that normal people couldn't care less about and about which editorial nerds like myself have apoplexy.

Card game
Parlor game
Board game
Video game

It's just that simple. I have no idea what the motivation or thinking was behind making it one word, but it drives me positively batty. Of course, I also begin to make gurgling noises whenever I see someone saying they "literally" jumped out of their skin, or something along those lines, so clearly I'm at least moderately crazy.

John Davison said...

You are not alone in your fury at people saying "literally." It drives me nuts.

Your "xyxyx game" logic is sound.

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