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According to basic grammar, there should be a be verb in front of the Over. So why do all games display Game Over instead of Game Is Over?

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It is shorter. Like French films show "Fin" at the end – mplungjan Feb 11 '14 at 10:07
If you go by your rules, your title should be 'Why do we often see displayed on games “Game Over” and not “Game Is Over”?' The basic sentence structure is not the only acceptable English construction (though some of the less central constructions are better used in less formal situations). (If one wants to be nit-picky, there should probably be a 'The' before 'Game is Over' too.) – Edwin Ashworth Feb 11 '14 at 10:10
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's idiomatic short for

The game is over

Without the the, the sentence would still be ungrammatical.

Games used to have to deal with very limited resources like screen space, and it made sense to try and keep messages short and clear, also to avoid burdening the player with having to read a lot of text. (Imagine "Dear player, we are sorry to inform you that notwithstanding your great efforts, your gaming experience has now been terminated".)

Games have copied the use of common signs in that: they are quickly recognizable, even though they may not contain a full grammatical sentence. "Exit" successfully conveys the meaning of "this way you will find a way to leave the premises", "Ladies" in the same manner makes clear the presence of sanitary facilities for people of feminine persuasion.

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And we're on a site called "English Language & Usage", rather than "A Website Concerning itself with Matters of the English Language, and the Usage thereof". – Jon Hanna Feb 11 '14 at 12:05

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