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Ten of the best acronyms

Ten of the best acronyms


(Massive Action Game)
Massive Action Game was initially a purely descriptive working title, then it was shortened to MAG, then the ‘Massive Action Game’ bit was unofficially dropped. We’re unofficially keeping it though because if we don’t keep reminding ourselves what MAG stands for, it doesn’t really mean anything.


(High Altitude Warfare – Experimental Squadron)
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.
Ubisoft has taken liberties a bit here, pretending that ‘experimental’ starts with an X, but we’re not surprised seeing as Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.E.S. might mislead people into thinking that the game was about a small North Yorkshire town.


(Special Tactics and Rescue Service)
Resident Evil
This is one of several uses of the word ‘stars’ as an acronym both in the real world and in fiction. Another one that you’re most likely to have heard of is the Superhuman Tactical Activities Response Squad from Marvel Comics’ Maximum Security.


(Conglomerated National Television)
Grand Theft Auto IV
Hang on, this is a mistake. An acronym is a set of initials that spells out a pronounceable word, but pronouncing CNT certainly doesn’t sound like any word we’re familiar with. It doesn’t even have any vowels. What in the heck were we thinking?


(Rip You a New One)
Ratchet & Clank
What is it with Insomniac Games and its obsession with making mild, but not at all subtle references to bottoms? If we weren’t so utterly juvenile then we would probably be disgusted, appalled and offended. However, we are, so in fact we actually quite like it.


(Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck)
Fallout 3
This has to be the most genius use of an acronym in the history of videogames. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. actually properly works without appearing contrived even though it actually surely must be. See also V.A.T.S. – Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System.


(First Encounter
Assault Recon)
This is one of many examples you’ll find in games of a ‘contrived acronym’; one where an apt word is chosen first, then the full title that it stands for is shoehorned in after. It works for a game that splices genres, though. ‘Assault Recon’ tells you it’s a shooter, ‘FEAR’ tells you it’s scary.


(Tony Hawk’s Underground)
When you contrive an acronym, the whole point is that the word you end up with is indicative or evocative of whatever it’s supposed to be describing, but the word ‘thug’ has nothing to do with skating. Not even if you take into account the Jackass influence that was introduced at this point in the series.


(Battle of Live
Tactical Zones)
Valkyria Chronicles
As much as we’re in awe of the cleverness of Fallout’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. acronym, we also love really clumsy, contrived acronyms in much the same way as we love clumsy, contrived puns. Why didn’t the Valkyria Chronicles dev team just call it BOLTZ? That would’ve worked.


No One Lives Forever
Spy fiction is full of contrived acronyms so it makes sense that a spy spoof should be even more full of them. And the running joke in No One Lives Forever is that none of them, not H.A.R.M. nor U.N.I.T.Y. nor J.A.C.K. actually stand for anything. And it’s the same developer as F.E.A.R., which is no surprise.

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