What's in a Name?

Names have a lot of power, and I had a reminder of this recently when a playtester was giving me feedback about Invaded.  To him, the game's title suggested that there would be armies and fighting, and in practice, an entire game of Invaded can go by without any actual combat happening.  The mismatch of expectations with reality was a problem for him.  (He also had some other very interesting bits of feedback, but I'll focus on this one for the moment.)

So, as the game has developed, I've started to think that the combat side of things is not really the default focus.  I think that the threat of violence is probably more important than the violence itself, and if there isn't actually any fighting, that is fine, particularly if the reason for there being no combat is that the players were actively working to avoid it due to the danger it promises.
Turns out it wasn't just the British getting up to this sort of thing.
By Anonymous French engraver 1883 - "Histoire de la France" Milan Jeunesse, p.209, Public Domain, Link
On a related issue, I have been calling the players' mobile forces "warbands", but was called out on this by another playtester at UK Games Expo, who suggested that a different name would align better with their usual function within the game.  He's absolutely right, and at his prompting, I have started referring to them as "hunting parties", which is starting to feel a lot better.

I'm really not sure about the best way to address colonialism.  In the real world, colonial invasions often ended up with some real atrocities being committed, and at the very least, indigenous peoples were forced to take part in systems that were not in their own long-term best interests.  The atrocities and injustices were considered to be justified in the pursuit of profit (or in order to bring civilisation to the savages, the classic bogus rationale), rather than being the objective.  With colonial invaders typically having such a huge technological advantage over the indigenous peoples, though, any resultant violence can inevitably be blamed of those holding the power rather than those who feel threatened and fight back.

A game exploring these themes, where humans are considered to be resources, obstacles, and even animals that need to be trained, could get really dark and heavy.  The problem is that I want this to actually end up being a game, something that people can enjoy playing and hopefully helps to generate stories.  Anything above that is cool, but I'm aiming at having a game rather than a history lesson or a polemic.  That said, I keep thinking myself round in circles, as the theme of Invaded is so influential in what design decisions I make, and the invaders need, at the very least, to treat the natives unfairly.

And the playtester's comment about the title has made me think.  Based on a 10 second description of the theme, this game could go in a number of different directions, and the way it plays at the moment could result in several of them.  I normally don't worry about game titles: for the most part they are working titles, and can change later, but in this case, the title is instilling expectations that often are not fulfilled.  If it was called "Game 2016-K", or "Steve", there would be no such baggage.

"Invaded" as a title might be best consigned to history, but what to replace it with?  Some of the ideas people have come up with over the months might be better, like "Colonised", "Colonialism", or "Indigenous" all have their own potential implications.

I guess that at some point I need to just choose something that seems to do a reasonable job of representing the game and its theme, and just live with it.  After all, if this actually ends up being published it may well get renamed or get a specific historical setting, so it's not really worth losing sleep over.

I realise that this post is a little incoherent as I am partly using it to help me think some things through, but I would love to hear anyone's thoughts about the subject.  Particularly if any of you have any insights into any of the periods of history where a colonial invasion has taken place, but general thoughts and opinions would be great too.

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