Regular readers may remember my recent lament about how I’ve mostly failed to convince news organizations I’ve worked for to refrain from capitalizing the word “internet.” I’m pleased to report, however, that I’ve had better luck with another of my stylistic bugbears – namely, the italicization of video game titles.
Back at the CBC, the standard was to leave game titles in regular type, despite films, TV shows and album titles getting special italics treatment. I argued with the style gurus about how this was discriminatory and that games were no less works of art and entertainment than any other medium. If you italicize the works of Michael Bay and Nickelback, for example, you simply must do the same for the likes of L.A. Noire, Mass Effect or Uncharted 2.
The historical argument against italicizing games is that they were typically considered pieces of software. And you wouldn’t write Microsoft Word – it’s obviously Microsoft Word. The other argument is that board games, such as Monopoly or Scrabble, don’t get italics.
Neither comparison is accurate anymore, if it ever was. Neither software nor board games employ directors, cinematographers, story writers, actors, stuntmen and musicians all together, as video games do. The obvious comparison today is to television or film, both of which get the honour of italics.
My arguments worked and the CBC adopted italics for video games last year. Here’s the official style rule. Italics are applied to:
Video games and computer games considered artistic creations (e.g., SimCity, Pac-Man, Guitar Hero) rather than merely electronic versions of board games, card games or puzzles (e.g., the nouns Monopoly, Scrabble, solitaire and sudoku would be left in regular type).
I’ve put forward the same arguments with some other editors I currently work with, with varied success. MSN, where I do most of game writing, is now italicizing titles, at least in my stuff. They didn’t before, not because of any innate bias against games, but simply because no one had thought to do so.
So there it is. Gamers, consider this a call to arms. In our ongoing quest to get video games taken as seriously as any other artistic or entertainment medium, we need to get them fair treatment in the most basic of fora: typeface. Many publications and news outlets still don’t italicize game titles. If you see such an example, speak out and complain. They cannot deny us our slanted type any longer!