Yes, it’s another part of my ongoing random musing about names. Particularly on Role-Playing servers, seeing as that is my server type of choice, and at the moment, I’m musing about second names. Surnames. This one’s particularly rambly, so you might want to get a brew in and relax. And enjoy the journey. Sorry.
So, here I am at level 20. I get me a horse and a surname. It’s almost like a coming of age ceremony, similar to your first legal beer, or your provisional driving license. Just with less fanfare from your parents.
And seeing as I was in Altdorf sorting horse (no, I haven’t named it. I make it a policy never to name something I might one day eat. And there’s good eating on a horse) and surname, I decided to do my bit for Altdorf, and finish off some of the quests sitting in my Tome of Knowledge. No, it wasn’t about clearing some space in there, and it wasn’t about getting some easy cash and quest xp. No. Honest.
Booting down doors, taking names. Investigating corpses floating in rivers, and generally being seconded to the Altdorf Rozzers. Quite fun, really. And within I few minutes, I’ve got the line; “They call me MISTER Poppet!” running around in the Movie-In-My-Head(tm). Lots of fun, really, and as mentioned earlier, the side effect of helping Altdorf out left me with a warm feeling in my tummy.
It was only later that I started checking out other people’s surnames. Sometimes things are just going too quickly to take note of *any* names, never mind two for the same set of pixels that I’m chasing around a battlefield. And I’m visually lazy. I spend a lot of time at work having to be very accurate about what I’m reading, so on my own time I slack.
But every so often, a name registers in my subconscious, and batters through the wall to my… umm… very conscious. Sometimes it’s a really nice name, one that makes me immediately hate the owner for having a better imagination than me. Hates them! Really hates them! Whilst congratulating them! And others, I read a name that makes me wince. Anyone that thinks the name “Shadowbladedeathdancer” is ok for a name, or even worse chose it because “It’s cool” deserves to have their internet rights removed. I apologise if there actually is a “Shadowbladedeathdancer” out there. It’s a name I chose at random, and I wasn’t singling you out for scorn. Even if you deserve it, for having a name like that. It’s not cool. It’s not a name. It’s words stuck together!
In between the two extremes we get the “comedy” names. Sometimes it’s an innocuous enough name, whose comedy is only released at level 20 with the addition of the surname. Sometimes not. Either way, the question of whether or not comedy names are acceptable is not something that will be resolved in this rambling pondering; I first encountered the “issue” of comedy names in a forum post shortly after I started playing Everquest. It’s going to be going for a long, long while.
The issue here is that, just like World of Warcraft, comedy is a part of the world. And therefore, part of the lore. So when the self-appointed Lore-Police start screaming about names, and comedy names at that, they don’t have a leg to stand on. When the NPCs have comedy names, how can reporting comedy player character names be enforced. It gets worse; the original Intellectual Property evolved over many years, and there are scary amounts of incidental and obvious humour; One of the early army lists for 1st edition was called “The Insane Conjurations of the Necromancer Colin”, or some such. And one of the 2nd edition Regiments of Renown, whose name I cannot remember despite getting all het up about it, was a regiment of sea-elves tasked with guarding ports. Their usual challenge (in Elven, of course) was “Elo cailor, gotda leit?” Even when I first read it, I groaned. [I await anyone who has the original information who can correct my shoddy failing memory. I was about 15 when I first encountered Warhammer, so it’s been a while since I have seen the original. If you could correct it, well done. Not only do you get 25 Hawley-points, but you’ll be making the inner child in me happy for getting some of it’s history back accurately.]
No, you don’t need to ask me, I will happily volunteer the information: Yes, I am considering starting to greet Elves with that phrase in game. It’s part of the lore, after all… I just need the correction/confirmation to arrive, and I’m away.
So when the self-appointed Lore-Police report your comedy name, do you get to report the Van-Rentls of Marienburg for their comedy name? Yes, another old piece of the world, there.
And I suppose the other question is this; Do game designers get a “Get out of jail, free” card from what some people might refer to as the “Lore-Wielding Assassins of Joy”? No, I don’t use that term. Never. But the point is that we don’t get to even comment on NPC names, so why do they get to change ours?
Personally, I hate to see an obvious gag name. With a passion. But I understand that they are a part of the world, so I turn a blind eye. Of course, that blind eye means I won’t be healing them and won’t be helping them. Swings and roundabouts, really. With a comedy name, you need to be able to duck and weave… But I respect them enough to not start reaching for the “report” button whenever someone with a comedy name batters me into the ground. Again.