I am not asking what are all the different works titled "Ender's Game". (If I was asking that then the answer would be: 1977 novella, 1985 novel, and 2013 movie. The comic and audioplay have slightly different names)

I am asking why the book itself is called Ender's Game. What does it refer to? I know that it can refer to many stuff.

Some ideas that come to mind are:

  • The Battle Room and/or simulator (which form the core of the book)
  • The book's twist
  • The Mind Game

What are any other meanings? I know that the title was already in place back in 1977 when most of the backstory wasn't present (The short story didn't have Ender's family, the Mind Game, etc.), thereby technically making most theories wrong, but they could still be applied to the novel.

Also, OSC says on his website:

"Ender" was chosen for the short story solely so that I could have the title "Ender's Game."

Would that be a reason for the title? What does that even mean? Any ideas?

  • ... because he's putting an "end" to the alien threat...
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 4:31

2 Answers 2


he coined it {{name}} only to allow the title "Ender's Game" to be reminiscent of "endgame" in chess (src: OCS's website)

And the "Game" mostly refers to the final battle that Ender thinks is a game, and more generally the training game that he thinks he's playing.

All quotes are from the original 1977 Analog version of short story:

He began fighting two battles a day, with problems that steadily grew more difficult. He had been trained in nothing but the game all his life, but now the game began to consume him.


Ender shrugged. Maezr began his explanation. "Today's game, boy, has a new element. We're staging this battle around a planet. ..."


Maezr reached out and touched his shoulder. Ender shrugged him off. Maezr then grew serious and said, "Ender Wiggins, for the last months you have been the commander of our fleets. There were no games. The battles were real. Your only enemy was the enemy. You won every battle. And finally today you fought them at their home world, and you destroyed their world, their fleet, you destroyed them completely, and they'll never come against us again. You did it. You."

Real. Not a game. Ender's mind was too tired to cope with it all. ...


So we trained children, who didn't know anything but the game, and never knew when it would become real. That was the theory, and you proved that the theory worked."

So, of your points:

  • The Battle Room and/or simulator (which form the core of the book)

    Yes and definite yes. The Battle Room counts because of the earlier quote that says he played the game all his life, which means the Battle Room is included.

  • The book's twist


  • The Mind Game

    As you yourself noted, this doesn't fit because the Mind Game wasn't in the original short story.

  • 1
    I think the Mind Game fits, because there's a chance that it was put in as a game because of the title. It could have been called something else (even if still a game), but I wouldn't be surprised if it being called the Mind Game was intentional.
    – user31178
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 17:03
  • @creation it wasn't in short story at all Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 18:17
  • That's my point. The name of the game was decided after the name of the story. So the title may not have originally referred to it, but the name of the game may have been chosen to fit with the title.
    – user31178
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 18:19

Based on the provided quote:

"Ender" was chosen for the short story solely so that I could have the title "Ender's Game."

The title is referring to the game of the ender, i.e. one that ends.

In the books, Ender ends things. Specifically, at the end of the story, when he thinks he's still playing a game controlling a simulation space fleet, he actually ends the Formic threat.

But, Ender also ends other things. He ends the way the Battle School was run, by ending the existing dynamics of the Battle Room games.

He ends the Mind Game by killing the giant and going where it had never gone before.

He ends Bonzo, and the thus the competition between them. Here, the "game" is the game of cat and mouse, or you could even take it to mean Ender was game, as in prey, for Bonzo, but he ends that.

Similarly, he does that with the bully at the beginning of the story.

The point I'm driving at here is that the title can mean a great many things, depending on how you'd like to interpret it. I would say that the first reason I gave, about ending the Formic threat, to be the one the title was explicitly meant to refer to. Everything else is just gravy.

  • 2
    That kind of fits with what Mick tells Ender: "Not a bad name here. Ender. Finisher. Hey."
    – ibid
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 4:50
  • @ibid I think that line is meant to be a bit more blatant about the title, for those who didn't get it. It's a YA book, so it's a little in your face with it.
    – user31178
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 4:54

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