DOTA is a stupid name

jason.brown's picture

  DOTA is in the gaming news again. It seems that Valve, after acquiring "Icefrog", the current Warcraft 3 DOTA maintainer, has filed a trademark for DOTA 2. This has since caused fireworks amongst, both the map's original  creators (now owners and operators of League of Legends) and Blizzard's lead game designer, Rob Pardo. Both parties cited that DOTA (an acronym for Defense of the Ancients) should be reserved for the "community" and not belong to any one owner.

  I agree with that criticism, however what is more troubling to me is that DOTA has spawned new genre of video game and not one of it's new implementors (Valve, Blizzard, Riot, S3...) have thought seriously into naming that genre. Retail boxes, and marketing materials for these new products have nothing better than references to DOTA.  Meanwhile these companies seem content to have their creations refered to only as a likeness of the original, a Warcraft 3 mod that is nearly 5 years old. This is especially troubling to me when each of these subsequent offerings brings something new to help advance that genre. I would think that they would like some way of branding those advancements.

  Let's call this genre something, something other than DOTA. I have heard people painfully attempt to explain how any of these games work without referencing the marble-mouthed acronym. Most end up with some modification of "hero arena", which to me doesn't sound all that bad. I have also heard "Dota-like" which at least rolls smoothly off the tongue, but will be an enigma to those in coming generations.

  "Daddy, why do we call them dota-likes?"
  "Well, when daddy was little there was a game called Warcraft 3. A bunch of smart people used the assets from this game and making up new rules created a new game. They called this Game DOTA."
  "Why did they call it that?"
  "It is short for Defense of the Ancients."
  "What is an Ancient?"

  Although heart warming, this is not the most effective method of referencing a type of video game. Genre acronyms are short and names are descriptive. Regardless of their exposure to video games, someone can tell you if they want to play a first person shooter. Your Grandmother would inform you that she is not interested in playing a video game from the fighting genre, but would probably give that puzzle game a try. DOTA's successors deserve something like this.

  No thanks to any of the current developers of the genre, I have taken to calling the genre HAG or Hero Arena Game. It is far from sufficient but it is better than always referencing an entity that will require more explanation. I guess all I can do is wait until the internet comes to a consensus. Please let it not decide on "DOTA."  




Albino's picture

It's interesting that, no matter how unwieldy, most acronyms seem to catch on eventually (MMOJRPG anyone? Maybe FFX?).  I do agree that it should be more descriptive than "DOTA", as the whole point is to shorten a long description for a phrase that is used often. My vote would be to name it CAG, (Champion Arena Game), or maybe CAB (Champion Arena Battle).  There is just something about HAG that doesn't sit right with me… perhaps because it is an actual word and an unflattering one at that.



jason.brown's picture

 I guess only time will tell.

Doing that hurt me a little.