I recently heard about a new retro arcade opening in downtown Johnson City called Silverball City. As soon as I read the name, I was immediately transported back to a world filled with Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Galaga. The memories all came rushing back. Roller skating, fat laces, parachute pants, Big League Chew, Underoos, and Sea Monkeys just to name a few.
The name Silverball City had in a moment taken me back to a different time and place, and I was absolutely loving it. I found myself swimming in nostalgia as I drilled a little deeper down into a very specific memory. 1985. I was in 6th grade. And it was my birthday. Party time. My mom took my two best friends and me to the Italian Village in the Johnson City mall for some pizza. Giant New York style pepperoni slices and enormous soft drinks, the kind of cups that you need two hands to hold. After we finished our pizza and multiple soft drink refills, we moved next door to the Gold Mine for some video games. I can recall no greater feeling than walking into the arcade well stocked with quarters. Galaga, Punch Out, Karate Champ, Dragon’s Lair, Time Pilot, Pole Position, and Kung Fu Master were just a few of the games whose leaderboard displayed my initials. Once we had all played our final quarters, it was time to move on to the final leg of our elementary school adventure. The Goonies at the mall theater. What a great movie for the imagination of a 6th grade boy! In my heart, I will always be a Goonie. And all of this from two simple words- Silverball City. This trip down memory lane caused me to think about the power of names. Names can define. Names can clarify. Names can set you apart. But one of the most important things that names can do is establish an emotional connection.
The name Silverball City itself doesn’t really mean anything to me. I have never known anything or been anywhere called Silverball City. But it somehow feels like home to me. It feels like that 6th grade birthday party with pizza, arcade games, and The Goonies. And that feels good. Because those are fun memories. Names are important. Maybe it’s the name of your future child. Or maybe it is the name of a new startup business that you have been thinking about for years. Or maybe you have an amazing idea for a new product, but you just don’t know what to call it. Whatever it may be, names are important. Think about the emotional connections that you might be establishing with others, both good and bad. What do you hope to stir up in people’s hearts and minds?