Japanese for game geeks

If you’re really a hardcore game fanatic you should already know where the big Japanese companies get their names from. If not, it’s still an interesting insight into some corporate Japanese thinking. In Europe and America game companies, especially recently, like to go for, what I call, the “double-barrel comedy misfire”; i.e. vaguely naughty or silly names that mean nothing and are often instantly forgotten; things like “Mollusk Pants” or “Simian Nuts”. The Japanese, with a few notable exceptions, take their naming a little more seriously, and though there can be occasions for hilarious Engrish and more recently pretentious and sometimes misused Latin, their motives are often pure.

Though even the Japanese releases show the famous oblong Nintendo logo when you boot them up, their office signs, corporate details and stock-market listing all use the kanji version ; “nin” (charge, responsibility), “ten” (Heaven, sky) and “do-“ (temple, shrine or magnificent). This is often translated as “leave luck to the heavens”, which seems a bit of a liberal translation but one that sums up their business acumen pretty well.

Capsule Computers, another good example of the Japanese desire to cut words short. Of note is the fact in Japanese there is no “-m”. There are syllables beginning with “m-“ but not ending with one. For this the Japanese use the “-m”, which is the universal soft-stop. So in katakana you actually write “kappu-conn”.

The shortening of the name “Service Games”, which was previously “Standard Games”. Though it is possibly the most Japanese company you’ll encounter, with all the Japanese corporate culture you’d expect, and it has, bafflingly, a slew of rabid fans it was in actuality founded by American, David Rosen, and was only taken over by Mr. Nakayama in 1979.

Previously Sega’s AM7 team they took on the name “Overworks” after their boss Mr. Oba, which sounds pretty much identical to the Japanese pronunciation of “over”. I wonder if he intended to advertise the working conditions so openly.

Shin Nihon Kikaku (“New Japan(ese) Project” or “New Japan(ese) Design”)

Big (“oo”, “dai”) East (“higashi”, “to-“)

“Genki” means, literally “happy”, “healthy” or “fine”. I think it is best translated as the French “cava”, encompassing all that is good and happy about someone or something. If you think the logo looks like it’s been drawn by a six-year old that’s probably because it was.

The old “splice two names together” trick perpetrated by Kou Shibusawa and Eiji Fukuzawa; except, of course, these people don’t exist and the name is simply a joke anagram of Keio University where husband and wife founders Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa studied.

From Nakamura Manufacturing, who created coin-operated machines to Namco. How’s that for shortening a name?

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