What’s in a name?
Is it meant to represent you? Is is support to provoke thought? Is it intended to get a laugh? Or, is it just an identifier so you’ll know when someone wants your attention? For me, it can and should be all of the above and therefore memorable.
Istet Games started with two dads wanting a solution to teach their children the art of computer programming. It’s tough subject to crack and can be quite dry if you’re just reading manuals or online tutorials. We needed a way that was engaging, encouraged retrying when you failed, and created the sense of self discovery. Simply put, we wanted our kids to learn the way you’re supposed to learn. Not by regurgitating some facts a teacher taught you, but rather by exploring and figuring things out hands on. Video games is a natural platform for that.
With a format selected, we needed a way to identify ourselves; one that represented our desire to get smarter. My co-founder and I went back and forth throwing out some really awesome ideas, but eventually settled on ‘Smart Games’. Simple, to the point, directly represents a product we want to produce.
But, there was one problem. We’re going to be a learning company and I didn’t learn a thing with that moniker.
My previous employer was Precocity LLC. That company’s name is a hybridization of the word ‘precocious’. I had always thought that was word with a negative connotation. It just sounds bad for some reason; like you’re extra confident solely because you’re wealthy kind of yuk. But take a look again at the definition.
precocious adjective pre·co·cious | \ pri-ˈkō-shəs \ 1: exceptionally early in development or occurrence Ex. precocious puberty 2: exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age Ex. a precocious child
There’s nothing there that should suggest a negative connotation. I had learned something new, and it changed my opinion of the word just a bit. I thought that was really cool.
Inspired by that experience, we couldn’t just name our new company ‘Smart Games’. We needed to stay true to the entire reason we were going to exist and teach you something new even at the earliest onset of you hearing about us. We actually want you to say, “Istet, eh? That’s a funny name. What does it mean?”
So, back to the drawing board. Foreign words were a natural fit. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to learn, and a lot of them are very romantic. So we started throwing out names that revolved around getting smart in every language we could think of. There were a lot of cool words that would have worked nicely.
My partners wife is from Romania. She’s a super awesome, sweet lady who could verify that anything we picked in Romanian didn’t have a culturally negative connotation, and was pronounced in English the same as it was pronounced in Romanian. In respect for her, and her native language, we decided to go the Romanian route to select our new name.
There are quite a few words in Romanian that represent learning, but one stood out. It represented our principles and coincidentally the Romanian word for ‘smart’, our original desired name!
Istet… Romanian for ‘smart’. We make Smart Games… and now you’ve learned something new.