[News] [Computer Gaming]
Okay, I've had my kneejerk reaction to the name "Wii". Now I've had time to think it over carefully, and in all seriousness I have some very real reasons why this would be an extremely bad name for a gaming console.
1) The name does not come naturally to the Japanese.
Now, I'm taking some lead here from people who know Japanese better than I do, but I do know that there's no Japanese syllable/consonant for "wi" (or anything starting with "w" except "wa" and "wo"). It seems unlikely that Nintendo would choose a name that doesn't fit naturally into the language of their home turf, and if indeed the name is for real it seems silly.
2) "Wii" has no obvious meaning.
If you look back on past (successful) consoles, you'll see that they all are either existing words (Genesis), compound words (PlayStation), words built from word fragments (Famicom = Family Computer), or acronyms or partial acronyms (XBox, where presumably the X is for Extreme, or at least intended to convey mystery). Although Nintendo goes to some trouble on their website to explain that "Wii" is meant to suggest the word "we", with the two i's being like two people, that's not in any way obvious on its face, and it requires someone to explain it to you. And if it needs explanation, then what's the point of it? A title is meant to qualify an unknown product; you shouldn't need a product to qualify an unkown title ("qualify" in the sense of "reveal qualities").
3) The pronunciation of the name lends to obvious scatalogical jokes...
... and not just "mature" jokes (such as you might get if they'd called it the Nintendo Fook), but jokes that suggest an even greater level of infantilism than your average toilet humour. Let's be clear, the name is pronounced "wee". As in, "I'm going to spend a couple of quality hours with the latest Mario title and my wee," or, "I'm so glad I have my wee." I know this has been the point everyone's already focused on, but it is a valid point - it's remarkably hard to talk about interacting with the console without dissolving into giggles. And that's.... really not a good image.
4) The name does not convey the function.
This is really an extension of (2). Nintendo is presumably hoping to reach non-gamers; possibly they're trying to move away from the hardcore stigma of gaming but they now face the whole trouble of explaining to their potential new users exactly what a Wii is and what it can do. They're not just going to have to sell consumers on the benefits of their console over others; they're going to have to re-sell consumers on the concept of consoles in general.
5) The name is small.
No, seriously, it doesn't take up much space on a printed page. If an article says "this game will be available for the XBox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3," Nintendo's really only getting about 15% or something of that publicity space. (Please don't check my maths; I already know they're dodgy.) The name just does not grab the attention visually when placed among other print. Even the original XBox had that big mysterious "X" at the start.
6) It's unclear how the name is pronounced.
You have to have it explained to you how the name is pronounced. They're doing themselves no word of mouth favours if half their theoretical casual-gamer evangelists are telling their friends to go out and buy a "Nintendo Why", and then their friends are looking in windows for something with the spelling "Nintendo Y". Legions of people will be referring to it as the "Wee, or Why, or Whatever", or just not talking about it because it's all too confusing. My prose style makes that seem like a humorous exaggeration, but seriously, this certainly isn't helping their marketing. Why would you deliberately pick a name with this problem?
So that's six reasons. I know you should always shoot for 5 or 7 reasons because people like those sort of numbers, but six is all I've got. I'm very serious about them, though. There's six hard reasons why this is a damned ridiculous choice of name, and the only one I've really got in favour of it is that its sheer strangeness has everyone talking. I'm not sure that balances out, and the more I think about it the more I think that Nintendo realliy can't be serious about this.