The name of the game
The features copy editors crave more italics.
They came to me yesterday asking for a ruling about the titles of computer games, because running them as we have been, capitalized, in roman type, “doesn’t look right” or “confuses the reader.”
Readers must be readily bewildered, because we seem to have gotten along all these years writing about Monopoly and Scrabble and other games without benefit of quotation marks or italics. But I suppose that a case can be made that as computer games grow more sophisticated, they have elaborate narratives, animation and other effects, so that it makes sense to rank Grand Theft Auto San Andreas along with Light in August and Citizen Kane.
(If you perceive Cranky Old Guy peeking through the prose, you are correct. I played one game of Space Invaders in a bar in 1979, which is the extent of my personal involvement with computerized games.)
A little research shows that the Associated Press Stylebook lists computer games, along with films, plays, novels and other artistic works, in the “composition titles” entry. So the AP would use quotation marks with the names of computer games. The AP does not use italics in copy, because it can’t transmit italics to subscribers. The Sun, which can use italics, italicizes the titles of major works and uses quotation marks with the titles of minor works, according to the generally accepted conventions outside newspapers.
I could, I suppose, poll the copy desk staff. But then I would almost certainly be asked why we have to use italics at all, because some of the editors still complain about my decree that our practice should follow what the rest of the world does.
So, at some point later today, I will have to issue some arbitrary ruling. It will probably include the names of computer games in the category of titles using italics. Let it not be said that I denied the full measure of dignity to Pong.