Five of the Best: Made-up words

Five of the Best is a weekly series about the bits of games we overlook, those poor old things. I’m talking about crowds, potions, mountains, hands – things we barely notice at the time but can recall years later because they’re so important to the overall memory of the game.

Now is the time to celebrate them – you and me both! I will share my memories but I’m just as eager to hear yours, so please share them in the comments below. We’ve had some great discussions in our other Five of the Best pieces.

How to spruce up your sales pitch? It’s like a chapter in a marketer’s handbook. Why not make up a catchy phrase to describe your project’s best ideas? Nothing will scream ‘new’ like a punchy buzzword. Soon you will have everyone saying it.

Orrr it will end up here and be lampooned instead.


What, exactly, is a Drivatar? Like many of the things on this list, it’s something you’re probably already familiar with: a drivatar is a computer-controlled character, though the twist is that their behaviours are informed by those of your friends as they play the same game. It’s what we used to call AI around these parts, but someone working on Forza thought that didn’t sound quite snappy enough, so in their infinite wisdom they went with Drivatar. Lord I wish they hadn’t.

-Martin Robinson

A jolly look at some misbehaving Drivatars.


You what? Do you mean revenge or vengeance? If you’re getting your own back, you mean revenge, but if you’re doing it on behalf of someone else, you mean vengeance, so which is it? Metal Gear Rising: Vengeance doesn’t actually sound that bad, and it’s a proper word. But I see: you want alliteration and an extra syllable. You want Revengeance.


Lots of random capitalisation in this trailer though, Koj – not sure I approve.


This bugs me. It bugs me because I’ve never played Rogue, the oh so hallowed originator of the term, and I bet a lot of you haven’t either – it came out in 1980! So when I saw ‘Roguelike’ for the first time, I didn’t know what it meant. Did it mean the game was a bit dodgy, a bit scoundrelly? Was it a little bit of a rascal? No. It means you have one life to see how far you can get (more or less), which is very simple, so why not say that in the first place?

To make matters worse, it’s now accepted as a kind of gaming lingo, which means it’s apparently OK to modify it to fit your bespoke needs, hence Roguelite, meaning it’s like Rogue but only a bit. Just describe your game in plain terms! People shouldn’t have to learn lingo in order to understand what a game is. It’s time to invite everybody in whether they’ve read the history books or not.

See also: Metroidvania.

(‘Soulslike’ bothers me but not as much. It’s more current.)

Here’s a gentle and insightful look at the history of Roguelikes and what it all means.


Imagine having to say “Levolution” in interviews. I really feel for the DICE developers who were on the press circuit for Battlefield 4 – I bet they didn’t come up with it. “Levolution”, “Levolution”, “Levolution”. It was the big Battlefield 4 idea: multiplayer levels which changed as key structures were destroyed – tower blocks which crumbled with people fighting in them. And it sounded really cool – the idea not the word, that is. Pity it didn’t really work. The only thing that crumbled were the game’s multiplayer servers.

Levolution, Levolution, Levolution!


Oh dear I’ve just thrown up everywhere.

‘Free-to-play with microtransactions’ was bad enough. It didn’t need jazzing up. At least it didn’t try and sound friendly. Now, it sounds like a bunch of business people trying to be casual in crisp jeans and shirts, whereas what it actually sounds like is ‘watch out, game is greedy’.

Feeling queasy? This won’t help.


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