The importance of keeping writing tools nearby
Last night as I was laying down to sleep, it came to me - the perfect name. This was a name I could use across multiple MMOs for my first character, a name which people would gradually come to associate (usually) with me, in the same way that some variant of ‘stop’ or ‘stoppableforce’ has. And then, like an idiot, I didn’t write it down, and instead I went to sleep.
At least I can get a blog post out of it. This is kind of a disjointed series of thoughts, and it all has to do with names.
The history of (my) names
Final Fantasy XI
The very first MMO I ever played - not counting MUDs, for which my memory is hazy, save for one - was Final Fantasy XI. When confronted with that all-important box to type in a name, though, I was stuck for a long while. What do I put here? It was more than just a normal name; I mean, I might be content to put whatever I like into the name input box for a console game because no one’s ever going to see that, but your name in an MMO is the first impression you make - without knowing anything, I’m automatically going to assume different things if I see one warlock named Cynwise and another named Deezznutzz (and yes, I do know a warlock named Deezznutzz). It’s just part of being human; we’re prone to first impressions, and names are no different.
So I looked at my hume male red mage, waiting impatiently for a name, with his face tattoos and his cornrows and his short ponytail, and I named him Severus. Please note that I had never even picked up a Harry Potter book; I have absolutely no idea where the name came from, as it just popped into my head, but a certain ambitious professor was certainly not the source.
I came to regret that name, but it was my first name for a long while. Later names came after I had started my second major, and it showed - my only other two characters of note in FFXI were named Socrates and Aristotle.
World of Warcraft
When I next picked up an MMO, it was World of Warcraft. I installed both vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade - from discs! how quaint! - and, after going online to create an account, logged into WoW. I created a draenei shaman - burly, exotic-looking, and I was at the time attracted to the dual-wielding nature of the enhancement shaman (I have a weakness for dual-wielding, apparently). After he was rolled up, I was then confronted with the same choice as before: what to call him? I was stumped for only a few minutes this time around, as the random name generator created ‘Kalle’ and I appended a ‘ch’.
Fun fact: Kallech is still my username on Wowhead. I should look into changing that sometime.
Later I created a Forsaken warlock because, even back then, the Alliance just didn’t do anything for me. I envisioned him as affliction early on, spreading corruption wherever he went. Having just gone on a stint of playing Final Fantasy Tactics, a name immediately popped into my head, and I was promptly surprised when Queklain was not taken. Oddly, the number of people who caught that name’s origin was extremely low, despite the game’s apparent popularity. Maybe they just didn’t play on Feathermoon.
From there, the names largely were random, and to be honest I don’t have any attachment to most of my character names between Queklain and my death knight, Zulfon. Based on a quick look at troll language particles, ‘Zulfon’ more or less refers to a master of outcasts. Voodoo Queen of the Pariahs. That sort of stuff. It tickled my fancy to imagine this troll shaman who fell against the Scourge and was raised as a death knight (which was actually the source of a few transmog outfits I asked Narci the Transmog Fairy to design for me - see here, here, and here).
Most of my character names are otherwise forgettable, even by me - although I do have a warlock named ‘Faustinix,’ which I figure always sounds like something Blizzard would dream up for a goblin warlock given their love of references to pop culture, and I once had a rogue named Gutsco, which is, all things considered, a pretty good name for a rogue. Or a Forsaken small business startup that sells replacement innards: Guts Co.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
A lot of my early character names were actually supposed to be references to certain Mega Man characters, at least until I got to where I could unlock my Legacy and was denied my chosen last name for no apparent reason - seriously, it didn’t even say “that name is already taken,” just “you can’t have that name, bugger off.” If you ever wondered why my fat miraluka (FAT MIRALUKA IS BEST MIRALUKA) was named Kyzur, it’s because his full name was supposed to be Kyzur Cygma. This naming scheme stuck, even if the Legacy necessarily didn’t, which is also where Jentra came from.
Oh, and, assuming Bioware doesn’t delete characters on inactive accounts, I’m pretty much permanently namesquatting on Shepard, at least on Juyo-US. My bad.
If you looked at my Guild Wars character names, you’d think I was hitting a keyboard randomly. To some extent, you’d be right: I just type names that look like they’d sound interesting to say.
- Vos Volturnum
- Ticuna Val Medime
- I have a second character with the surname ‘Volturnum’ but I cannot remember her first name
- Tetheal Margas
Now, I mostly pick sounds that sound good together. I’ve had to do this a lot recently; I was in three simultaneous betas at one time for a while. But on some level I kind of wish I had that recognizability that comes with, if not mostly playing a character with the same name across multiple games, at least a name scheme that’s recognizable. I just can’t bring myself to stop using a mix of “hit the keyboard randomly,” “use something that sounds good,” and “reference a video game,” though.
For those who are curious, the full roster of my WoW characters is now largely free of references to anything pop-culture-y (although one is vaguely named after someone I met at an L5R tournament, and it’s probably not the one you think it is): Faustinix, Zulfon, Nuhalo, Hrunet, Kyleana, Grendan, Brione, and Kashakti.
Back to you
- When it comes time to name a character - what resources do you use?
- Do you have a naming scheme you use within one game or across multiple games?
- Is there a particular source you turn to for names or inspiration for names? Novels, other games, et cetera?
- Do you just freely make stuff up?