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Gaming the system: Stadia name review

By Alex Kelley

April 24, 2019

Google has announced the name of its all-encompassing gaming platform that aims to—you guessed it—revolutionize gaming. The platform is called Stadia.

Google claims Stadia will be able to run complex games in the cloud and stream them to your device (with no latency at 60fps), rather than the current method, where games must run on a specific piece of hardware. The theoretical benefits of this are numerous—the biggest of which is the ability to play all of your games on whatever device you happen to be carrying at the moment. This new gaming paradigm will also allow users to seamlessly switch between streaming and playing, so they could, for example, watch other gamers live and then at the tap or click of a button, jump into the game themselves to play alongside the people they were watching or to simply play the game themselves.

But enough about the tech.

For those who don’t talk about multiple large sports-viewing venues that often, stadia is a real word—one of the accepted pluralizations of stadium (and the one that clearly acknowledges the word’s Latin origins).

The name heavily emphasizes our collective growing interest in watching other people play video games, and for Google to name its platform with such a focus on spectatorship is noteworthy. Viewing is just as important —if not more—than playing video games. (And not just for video games. A heckuva lot more people watch football than play it in the back yard.)

Further, the name also acknowledges that for many people today, a major motivator to play games is the possibility of celebrity, to build a following of spectators who like to watch you play and hear your in-game commentary.

Like the names of many of Google’s other services, Stadia feels open and welcoming (mainly because it ends in a lighter, more feminine vowel sound) and is clearly meant to appeal to a wide range of people. (The stereotype that “gamers” are mostly young men—either single or with very forgiving partners—sitting around shooting aliens, Nazis, or just shooting each other, is clearly refuted by data, by the way.) Although the name is welcoming and friendly, it also has an epic-ness to it as you can’t ignore the size and scale of Stadia’s literal meaning. Stadia is the big tent of big tents.

The only shortcomings of the name are really the flip sides of its strengths. That welcoming, lighter sound is pretty soft for fans of war, adventure, or survival games like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, or Resident Evil. And the word stadia‘s association with ball sports, while a slam dunk for players of NBA Live, might make it harder for lovers of role-playing, construction, simulation, and many other game genres to feel at home.

However, particularly given the crowded space Stadia occupies, it’s impressive that Google was able to find an ownable, relevant, international, short name that sounds welcoming and awe-inspiring at the same time.

Stadia may indeed end up the place where Fortnite fans and Klondike Solitaire junkies come together. Game on.

Grade:
A-
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