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What's in a name: Irrational Games


It's time for another origin story of an industry presence. During a recent Gamescom interview with Ken Levine of Irrational Games we asked how the developer received its senseless, illogical name:

"Naming things is my least favorite thing to do. In terms of BioShock Infinite, the name doesn't make a lot of sense to people. Even naming BioShock, I was never like, 'Oh my god! That's exactly it!' 'Irrational, that's exactly it!' Names are difficult because you're trying to do so much work in such a little space. So we're never happy with it.

"Irrational was almost called 'Underwater Horse.' The reason that was, you know hex-based war games? My business partner John and I played this very complex World War II game where not only was there a horse-vs-horse combat table, it was so complex, but there was an underwater horse-vs.-underwater horse combat table. So we almost called the company that. We just couldn't come up with a name.

"[Irrational] was the name we all hated least. But now after fifteen years or whatever it's been -- thirteen years. I think the identity has sort of subsumed itself into the name and the word means something to us beyond what "irrational" means in the dictionary because it's a culture, it's a kind of game."

And what about the company's Prince-like name change from Irrational to 2K Boston, back to Irrational?

With a very dry and clipped delivery, Levine said, "It wasn't my idea to call it 2K Boston."

Like this feature? Be sure to check out the What's In A Name Archives.

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