What’s in a name?

Wotcha everyone,

We’re getting closer and closer to that magical time when we get to create all new characters for a fresh-out-of-the-box online game server.  And in between brews I had a bit of a ponder about what to call my characters.

In real life, we rarely get to name ourselves.  We’re born, and our parents name us.  And with a few exceptions, most of the people I know have kept those names.  Then the interwebnet came along, and thanks to email addresses and forums, we got the opportunity to call ourselves something different, if we chose.  Then online gaming gave us the opportunity to name ourselves as many times as we fancied (unless it was Star Wars Galaxies, where you just got the one opportunity).

Now, I’m no fan of the “comedy” name.  Sometimes I suffer from chronic sense of humour failures, and “comedy” names are one of the best ways to bring them on.  It’s one of the reasons I much prefer Role-Playing servers over the normal variety.  Being able to wander around and not see “Ownzjoo” on his latest killing spree, or “Legololz” bunny-hopping through a raid is surprisingly good for my karmic balance.

It’s not that I’m precious about my gaming, it’s just that naff names ruin my immersion.  So there.  Well, I am precious about my gaming, but not about names.  Honestly, it is the immersion thing.

So, here I am, thinking about names.  I remember once, with Icewind Dale, getting through four characters’ names successfully, before finding myself completely mentally lacking in the name department for a druid.  Casting about the room for inspiration, my eye falls upon a can of fizzily orange drink, and thus Tango the Druid was born.  I wasn’t proud of myself.  And I still had a sixth character to name…

It was at that point that I decided I really needed to sort some names out, for my own sanity, if for no-one else.  Tango could continue his druidic existence in an offline game, but online games get “proper” names.  Other people are going to see them, after all.  So the last thing I want is to have someone see the name that *I chose* and think; “Idiot” (seeing as this is a public blog, I shouldn’t use the term I would normally use.  It’s one of my favourite rude-word-based insults, though.  See if you can guess what it is).  And the interwebnet came to my rescue.  An absurdly fast search found me a site with some Victorian and Edwardian names on it, and thus my naming problems were at an end.

But here’s where the musing hits sticky ground.  When I start a new game, should I keep a name I’ve used before, or should I go for something new?  Without intending to, “Hawley” seems to have become a name for my healers.  It just happened that way.  It’s been used in three separate games now, and I’m wondering if I should continue to use it.

The part of me that wants to be imaginative, and creative, and other things that make me sound all coolly bohemian and end in -ive rebels at “just” using the same old name.  But having said that, I’m growing into the name.  It’s comfortable, like a well-worn pair of slippers.  Or a favoured t-shirt.  Or the jumper you always go to when it’s cold and raining.

I suppose it also helps when moving from one game to another.  Old friends and rivals can see that name, and wonder if it’s you.

Is “Hawley” a Warhammer Online name?  Does it have a certain Empire cachet to it?  Or does it just make my bum look fat?  I shall probably be pondering this until release day, and it’s time to finish off my character by putting in a name, and clicking on “Play”.

But then the fear starts.  What if someone “takes” the name.  Hey, I’m not in the pre-release.  I haven’t got a shiny Collector’s Edition waiting for me, so that leaves me dangling until launch day (plus the time it takes to download the release patch), and it’s not even like I can copyright my favourite names!

Ah well, looks like fate will decide…



7 Responses

  1. I’m like you, I have some names I tend to default to, but then circumstances force me to choose new ones. The one I originally picked in DAoC was a shortened form of my MUSH Wiz name, and that stuck for a while.. but by the time I was playing WoW it seemed the most popular name since sliced bread, so I picked another.

    For LotRO I didn’t think it suited any race or class, so I picked yet another.. but from a list of names I’d always liked.

    And now WAR. I’ll try for the name I want, but I think I only have a small chance of getting it. So I have some alternates, but they have to suit my char or I just can’t take them!

  2. I tend to pick srsbzness names most of the time, but some of the time a bit of the nerd will shine through.

    Like making a Bright Wizard named Amaterasu. I will do that and hopefully it will appease the Nerd Within so I can get on with the serious names :p

  3. I tend to use different names in lots of different settings! And then I forget which ones I used and why. Occasionally I scroll through them. It is more useful though if you are pottering across different names and platforms to stick to one.. I’m just hopelessly indecisive!

  4. I like to pick new names for each character. But I know it’s easier for people to identify me if I pick similar ones.

    So I haven’t really tried to think of anything very new and different for Warhammer. I feel a bit sad for my characters that they didn’t get special treatment though.

  5. I have several names which are class/race specific and which i try to keep as long as it fits the race/background.
    Most of the time i’m lucky and the names are free.

  6. I really have only ever been known online by three pseudonyms.
    bahrae, Ortus Sapienta (Ortussa) and Ardua (Ardy)

    Seeing as none really fit the lore of Warhammer, it may well be just a matter of time before Ardy becomes someone else. It all depends I suppose on the means for cross server chatting, if there is such a feature.

    Still here’s to the names we wear and the ones we make!

  7. New name for each new character. If I use a old name I just keep thinking of the old character, and then it doesn’t feel right.

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