"Snake Oil" It Is!

After a lot of brainstorming we ended up picking the name “Snake Oil” for the game.  We loved the name for a bunch of reasons:

  1. It is easy to remember.
  2. It catches attention, sounds fun, and evokes interest in the game for people of all ages.
  3. It captures the essence of the game perfectly given the phrase’s historical and current meaning in American culture.
  4. It makes use of the random two-noun combination concept!

A real Snake Oil salesman.

For those who are not familiar with the historical meaning of “Snake Oil”, once you do I know you will see the connection to the game concept.  In the Old West, traveling salesmen went from town to town selling various medical elixirs, often called Snake Oil, to the people in the town.  They usually traveled in a wagon and spoke to crowds from a small portable stage.  Snake Oil salesmen were known for their ability to smooth talk the townspeople into purchasing the elixir often by over-promising its effects.  By the time the customers found out it was a hoax, the salesman had moved on to another town.

A traditional Snake Oil advertisement proclaimed the product could cure nearly every health problem.

Today, the term “Snake Oil” is used in a general way to describe any good or product that is of dubious quality.  When encountering Snake Oil, buyers should be skeptical of the claims made by salespeople, as they are likely to be exaggerated or altogether suspect.  Given that our game involves people combining two random words to make a crazy new product, and then quickly pitching that product to all types of customers, the name is a perfect fit.

While the historical context is awesome, the fact that the phrase has developed a modern meaning really sold us on the name. We didn’t want the game to get bogged down in an Old West niche because the potential is so much greater than that.  As we developed the brand/theme, these two meanings allowed us to play lightly with the history but while also making it very current and playful.  And of course the name naturally inspired the idea of a Snake mascot!  More on that later!

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