I'm a nerd.
I spent my youth playing Magic: the Gathering, Vampire: the Masquerade, and other fancy games with colons in the title. Over time and lots of research down in a dark room with pasty friends and lots of dice, I've learned a few things about these games: the names are all deceptive, and as such are false advertising. So today, I'll list my favorite games, describe why they're misnamed, and propose new names more befitting their nature. And along the way, I'll use lots of fancy colons.
Dungeons and Dragons: The quintessential geek game. Players take on the role of fantasy adventurers killing monsters and taking treasure.
- FACT: Most games don't involve dragons. In fact, the bulk of the creatures you fight, that party can kill in one hit.
- FACT: Many games don't involve dungeons, but rather tombs, keeps, castles, lairs, labyrinths, and fortresses. Almost all games, however, involve a tavern of some kind.
- FACT: Every game involves getting treasure by taking it from cursed tombs and looting the bodies of dead monsters.
- SOLUTION: Since most games don't involve dungeons or dragons, the name ought to be changed to something more appropriate.
- New name? Taverns and Grave-robbers.
- FACT: Vampires have nifty powers that let them shapeshift or pick up cars. And they have pointy teeth. All of these things kinda break the Masquerade, which states that vampires should act like normal people.
- FACT: Most vampires in these games blatantly use these powers in ridiculous combat sequences and then slaughter wholesale all mortals unfortunate enough to have seen the events, which in turn, prompts huge police investigations into the activities of the undead. It's not a smart way to hide.
- SOLUTION: The vampire part can stay. It's accurate. However, the Masquerade is often a laughing afterthought in the games I've played. In fact, quite the opposite happens. Too much attention is drawn to the characters.
- New name? Vampire: The Big Neon Sign.
- FACT: The game does involve punks who are both online and often cybernetic.
- FACT: The game is allegedly set in the year 2020, and while I can easily see corporations all but ruling the world by then and an increase in gang activity, I think it's safe to say that I won't be able to buy cybernetic adamantite retractable claws from a street doctor any time soon. Or have infrared sensors augmented to my eyes. Or use a neural relay to log onto a super-sweet virtual reality internet.
- SOLUTION: There are two ways we could go. Set in what 2020 will probably really be like. Today with smaller cellphones and better gas milage. But then the game loses a lot of its flavor. So instead, we need to set it at a time when the future really could have those cool techno-gadgets. Unfortunately, technology never seems to advance as fast as we would like it to.
- New name? Cyberpunk Undetermined Year at least One Hundred Years from Today (or Cyberpunk UYaLOHYfT for short).
- FACT: I've never played in a game where I've actually seen a rift. Sure they still open from time to time in the game world, but mostly that's all past.
- FACT: People want to play the cool characters that can bench press battleships and blow up buildings with their minds, not the wimpy humans who need armor to survive. As such, the almost always end up fighting against the Coalition.
- SOLUTION: We need a name that captures what games ultimately devolve into, and not a reference to a past event.
- New name? Power Gamers Fight Space Nazis.
- FACT: Calling the game a gathering seems wrong. Gatherings are for friends and family. They are a coming together, not a tearing apart by violent warfare and devestating spells.
- FACT: Perhaps the gathering refers to the gathering of players, but I've seen many games get heated, even among friends. Or perhaps it's about the gathering of cards. Who can buy the most packs, the best cards, to ensure victory? The player who can afford the most packs and the best cards, that's who.
- SOLUTION: Magic can stay. The game does involve magic. But Gathering? We need to clarify what that means.
- New Name? Magic: The Rich Kid Always Wins.
- FACT: It isn't "my" baby the kobolds are eating, since I'm playing a kobold myself and we aren't after kobold babies. We want plump, tender, juicy human babies. Plus, the players go through kobolds rather quickly. They aren't the hardiest of monsters.
- FACT: Mostly the kobolds don't actually get to eat the baby. Just their leader, King Torg. All hail King Torg!
- SOLUTION: In theory the old name was fine. It just needs a couple of tweaks to get the name accurate.
- New name? Many Kobolds Died to Serve Your Baby to King Torg (All hail King Torg!)
You have been informed.