On Tuesday, before a roomful of panting games journalists and sore-thumbed enthusiasts, Microsoft unveiled its latest games console. The curtain was pulled, and the Xbox One was revealed. As gamers ruminated on the implications of the ’box (not hardcore enough? Better than the forthcoming PlayStation 4?), some of us were left confused.
Why, we thought, is this console called One? I mean, the last one was called Xbox 360, and the one before was, well, an Xbox. You don’t have to be a card-carrying numerist to be confused. Does it represent a collective failure of creativity? Had they spent every ounce of ingenuity they possessed on the construction of this whizz-bang contraption and then thought: “Bugger it, let’s go the pub – we’ll just call it, errr... One.”
You might think that was the case, but it seems all game designers have a penchant for giving their electronic babies Gwyneth-Paltrow-level daft names. Take, for instance, the Nokia N-Gage, which made the hand-held console of 2003 sound like a Nineties boyband; or the 1999 Dreamcast, which could be mistaken for a policy dreamed up on one of David Cameron’s blue-sky policy days, rather than the eggheads at Sega.
Even in the Eighties they seemed to be grasping for inspiration in the dark. The ColecoVision may have sold in the millions, but that didn’t stop it sounding like a collaboration between the coal board and a chain of optometrists. While if you try using the word “Wii” in any circle other than with a load of gamers, you just sound like a Frenchman or a div.
Still, they are all relatively simple. You can read them and you can say them. At least they aren’t like the Gif, whose creator Steve Whilhite recently showed his irritation at the fact it has been mispronounced for years by having the word “JIF” (like the cleaner) written out in 5ft letters while accepting his Webby award on Monday.