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The Games Industry Needs To Give Up On Exclamation Marks!

Image: Nintendo Life

Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they’ve been chewing over. Today, Jim makes a punctuation point…

Hey! Hey, you! Yes, you! Do you like games? Do you like talking about games? Of course you do! And yet, in all your time talking about games, you have never, never, shouted a title because it has an exclamation mark in it, have you? Why? Because you’re a level-headed gamer! You don’t need any punctuation to tell you how excited you should be! In fact, you might even go as far as to say that exclamation marks in game titles are pointless, because, 99% of the time, they are!

Welcome to my unnecessarily impassioned TED talk, live from the smallest of small hills that I will stand on until my game titles are dominantly punctuation-less (aside from the odd colon, I like a colon). Exclamation marks suck! Not in text, of course — an introduction like the one you just read would be nothing without its angry emphasis. But in game titles, they suck.

‘Now Jim,’ you might calmingly say as you pat my shoulder and quietly switch my coffee to decaf, ‘surely this isn’t that big of a problem. Exclamation marks aren’t all that common in game titles.’ But they are, I would reply with a wild look in my eye. They’re everywhere.

There once was a time when they were limited to games that wanted to suggest a level of fun despite their apparent quality. You only need to take a glance at the ‘Price (Lowest)’ section of the Switch eShop on any given day to spot delightful titles like Toilet Time!, Let Me Poke Cats! and Pretty Lady Puzzle Quest! (all made up, sorry).

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Shock
We’ll let you off, for now… — Image: Jim Norman / Nintendo Life

To be clear, marketing and selling a game appears to be a rough business, and I can see the perks of using the humble exclamation mark to say ‘My game is fun! Buy it!’ and get a step up on the competition. But the punctuation has become so overused that any sign of it — at that end of the eShop, at least — has come to be associated with a scam. If the title is so keen to tell you how FUN! the game is, it’s likely it won’t be.

While they lurked in the dark corners of the eShop, the exclamation marks were easier to ignore. But that is no longer the case. They are entering the light of the mainstream.

Overcooked!, South Park: Snow Day!, Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! The list grows by the day. And let’s not pretend that Nintendo is innocent, either. In the past 12 months alone we have seen Everybody 1-2-Switch!, WarioWare: Move It!, and Princess Peach: Showtime! all falling for the same idea that shouting the final word somehow equates to more fun.

The thing is, it doesn’t. Would I be more likely to pick up ‘Super Mario Odyssey!’ over its punctuation-less original? No way. So why start adding needless exclamation now? It kind of makes sense for imperative ‘command’ titles like Everybody 1-2-Switch! and Move It!, but just because the gratingly upbeat voiceover in the TV commercials shouts the title, it doesn’t mean that it needs to read the same on the box cover. Sega didn’t rebrand as ‘SEGA!’ just to match its shouty ’90s marketing campaign now, did it?

Metroid Prime 4 Exclamation Mark Logo
New logo just dropped — Image: Nintendo Life

The efforts of big boys like Nintendo and Game Freak are yet to rival the granddaddy of all exclamation mark titles, Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel: Dawn of the Battle Royale!! Let’s Go! Go Rush!!, which manages to squeeze an impressive six exclamation points into one name, but it’s surely only a matter of time before we see multiple marks making an appearance.

Who am I kidding? This is Nintendo that we’re talking about, the team behind such multi-punctuated games as Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Punch-Out!! Today’s exclamation-focused title conventions were foreshadowed all along, I was just too blind to see them.

Enough is enough. I’m taking a stand. Let’s leave exclamation marks where they belong — in text, cheap eShop games, and titles of horror films starring Jennifer Lawrence — before it’s too late. Or, at the very least, let’s spice things up with a question mark or two. ‘Mario Kart 9?’ launching Summer 2025.

What do you think? Do exclamation marks need to go? Let us know in the comments!!!

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