Either you, or someone you know, is probably paying attention to Kinect, Microsoft’s new controller-less addition for the Xbox that allows people to play games with their entire bodies.
What about the word? It’s pronounced like “connect,” but why does it have the odd spelling?
Let’s dissect Kinect and look at its pieces … The “Kin-” borrows from a number of English words with Greek roots, all of which describe motion in some way. Chief among them is “kinetic.” The second part of the word, “-nect,” has another convenient “n” and is rooted in “nexus,” which has a Latin origin.
But the plot thickens. For a year, the product had another, more mysterious name: Project Natal. Microsoft wizard Alex Kipman named the project in honor of Natal, a city in his native Brazil (in Portuguese, the word for Christmas; in English, another word for birth).
No one knows if Microsoft will redefine gaming with the Kinect, but they definitely aren’t the first to invent names for video game systems. Atari, arguably the godfather of pop culture video game systems, got its name from a term in the Japanese game “go.” Anything was better than the company’s original name, Syzygy.
But no video console name has stirred more discussion — and juvenile jokes — than Nintendo’s Wii. The console name is meant to evoke the togetherness of “we.” But the company also insists that the “i”’s resemble two people standing next to each other. Yes … if you’ve played 15 straight hours of Mario Brothers, two vowels will resemble just about anything.
Like Kinect, Wii originally had another name, Revolution. And like Atari, Nintendo is derived from Japanese. In Nintendo’s case, it loosely means “company that leaves luck to the heavens.”