Videogames — One Word or Two


As I mentioned, we completed the “Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual” and have the eBook version available.

In the next few days, I plan on posting up an in-depth FAQ on the International Game Journalists  Association site explaining  a lot of the rationale behind the guide and answer questons such as: “How can you dare to issue this style guide when it has errors in it?

But the big one i want to address is why we chose videogame as one word rather than two.

I’ll get to that rational on the IGJA site. For now, I’m curious–why should it be 2 words, like so many people seem to want?

5 Responses to Videogames — One Word or Two

  1. As a firm supporter of the one-word spelling, I do see some arguments for two words.

    First, it’s what ‘all the cool kids’ are doing. All the advertising agencies use two words, Google is convinced it’s two words, and some guy called Jesper Juul used two words in his neat little book. In terms of general use, there are far more people using two words than one. Of course, the majority isn’t always right, which is why middle school teachers keep going on about how ‘ain’t’ ain’t a word.

    Second, there actually does seem to be a slight semantic difference that emerges when you split a word from one to two words. If it’s two words, it suggests that ‘video games’ are a subset of ‘games’ (though the ‘video’ part is still a bit confusing because it has meant so many different things at different times, as Ralph Baer continually wishes to remind us). If it’s one word, then we think of videogames as something separate. At the same time, ‘board game’ is usually written in two words (though I usually write it as one word). I’ll have to look up the grammar text books on that one.

    Maybe a lot of it comes from use, habit, and preference. Though I guess an argument could also be made that if you’re also trying to keep the number of words down in your article, writing it ‘videogames’ is going to cut off about a dozen… The good thing is, regardless of how it’s spelled, it’s always spoken the same 😛

  2. This may sound crass or unintelligent, and I’m aware of the argument put forth by Devin and others, but I think “videogame” looks kind of silly.

    Just because a term with two words carries its own distinct definition doesn’t mean those words should be mashed together. A TV show is different than a Broadway show or a peep show, but we don’t call it a TVshow. Most people don’t need those words to be joined to figure out their meaning.

    Besides, I would argue that video games are a subset of games. Many of the theories that apply to board games, casino games and puzzle games are just as valid in the digital world.

  3. I can see the argument for both uses. In fact, I really don’t think one should be recommended over the other. It should be personal preference.

    As the previous commenters pointed out, the term ‘video game’ implies the medium in question is a part of a larger Games medium. I think that’s a deliberate choice. From this perspective, the existence of categories like card games, board games, tabletop games, alternate reality games, etc. reinforce the use of ‘video games.’

    That point of view makes sense for so-called ‘ludologists’ (let’s not open that can of worms). It’s a “video games are still games” mentality that attempts to link video games to an established history.

    On the other hand, I think, and I may be wrong, that the term ‘videogame’ is deliberately meant to buck that idea. Videogames can be so much more than just games. Interactivity at this level should warrant an entirely new category. From this perspective videogames should stand on their own merits as an art form.

    However, historically, grammatically, and by popular demand, it’s two words. I’ve never really heard a good counter-argument, so I can’t wait for David’s.

  4. Arthur: I completely concur with your rationale for the one-word spelling. It has been my practice to use the one-word version with this very reason in mind- they are not simply ‘games on video’, they stand apart from both previous forms of games and visual media.

    This is not to suggest the ultimate and radical alterity of the medium from those it remediates, but rather to give videogames, and the study thereof, the dignity of being autonomous from those forms that have preceded it.

  5. I think everyone here is right in their own way.

    I am iffy about this one for I too am unsure and use both ways of spelling at times. In a sense, a VIDEO game is a type of GAME. There are tons of types of games. There are board games, arcade games, card games, VIDEO games…the list goes on. A video game is just a way to describe a type of game. Though on the other hand there are many types of cakes though we spell cupcake without a space (carrot cake, strawberry-short cake, birthday cake). =D

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