Few things show off such an interesting side of humanity as the launch of a new MMOG. You wait an hour in a queue to hop on the server; once you’re in the game you have to deal with zones so overpacked you can’t swing a dead cat on a stick without smacking four low-level Warriors in the face. Then there’s the general chat: Half the people are complaining about the crowded zones, the other half are complaining about the people complaining and telling them to go back to WoW.
But while these issues are common to the launch of any major MMOG, there’s another unfortunate plague: When you finally get through the server queue, what do you name your character? This is not a decision to be made lightly; after all, you’ll be spending fifty levels and beyond with your moniker of choice. What if you choose one and then later decide you like something better – it might be too late! Somebody might have stolen it already! Can you really bear the thought of not being the first “Drizzzt” or “Sasukey” on the server?
While Penny Arcade printed their own suggestions for naming your WoW character back in the day, I’ve been taking some dutiful notes over the past week of some of the more unfortunate names I’ve seen in my adventures in Atreia. So take note – if you’re on this list, you’re doing it wrong.
Let’s set some terms here: We’ll only be counting characters that could reasonably someday get to level 50 – so we’ll be ignoring names used by obvious level-one gold-sellers hanging out in the first town. Sorry Gfhthf and zQAbV, you don’t count.
Thou Shalt Not Make Sentence Fragments A Name: Now it’s true that the Luke Nounverber construct is a perfectly serviceable trope for fantasy names, and indeed in real life as the epithets appended to the names of historic Scandinavian kings. But while Bloodaxe might be a fine fantasy name (if a little bit overwrought), Axeofblood is just clunky. But at least he’s trying – Kickthebike and Adopturmom, see me after class.
Thou Shalt Not Overuse Hard Consonants to Disguise Other Names: Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. These are the people who think “Why should I use a ‘c’ or an ‘s’ when ‘k’and ‘z’ are so much rawer? I’m keepin’ it real!” Okay, you know what? In some cases I can let it slide – sure, Ejekt sounds more like the stage name of a famous Swedish DJ than the name of a fantasy adventurer, but they’re at least making an effort.
It’s more annoying when you see people using this as a tool to be creatively uncreative, usually by taking the names of celebrities, products, and other fictional characters: If you aren’t a diehard Scientologist, Tomkrooz, I’m looking at you. Another common trick is to just duplicate the letters in a name, as we see here in Zzuull, someone who has clearly been watching too much Ghostbusters. And then we have people who do both: Budwizzer? Isn’t that what you have to go do after a long night of drinking awful, cheap beer?
I bet Mr. and Mrs. Anuzz are so very proud of their little boy.
Thou Shalt Make Your Name Pronounceable In Real Life: This one might not be quite so obvious at first glance, and the names themselves aren’t always that bad. For instance, I’m sure that Krognth had the best possible intentions for making a manly-sounding fantasy name. Unfortunately, he may have failed to take into account that when he’s level 50 and on Ventrilo, Teamspeak or Skype during a raid, that pronouncing four consonants in a row is very difficult. Of course, going the other route isn’t necessarily any easier, Qoogoochoo, with your tongue-twister-in-waiting.
Not only does this apply to names that are difficult to say out loud, but names that are embarrassing and awkward to say out loud. “Quick! Heal me, Gspot!” “I don’t think Dirtysanta can come tonight, he has work.” Is there anyone who would actually not feel strange saying “Hellcore” or “Deathblood” outside of an ironic black metal discussion group?
Thou Shalt Have Self-Respect: When you make your name, just think about the idea of playing until the level cap. This is your name for months, if not years. Are you really okay with that? …All right, you caught me. This isn’t a real category, it’s just somewhere I could mention memorable names that didn’t fit into the others.
Sovain: You probably think this column’s about you.
Kawaidesu: No, you probably aren’t.
Fullhaus: Ambitious poker player, or diehard Bob Saget fan? You decide.
Sinep: Oh yes, I see what you did there. And I’m sure the GMs did, too.
Placeholdera: Okay, this one actually made me laugh. But when the game doesn’t offer character name changes, you’re going to feel pretty silly, aren’t you?
So yes, gentle reader, if you merely follow these tips, you’ll have a name that you can be truly proud of! Fifty levels from now, you’ll be able to walk in your epic armor with your magical wings freshly buffed and your helmet-clad head held high. And it will be all thanks to me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get running. There’ll probably be a pretty big queue tonight, and I need to reserve all the names of my favorite characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I just can’t bear the thought of anyone else being Reiayanami except me!
John Funk learned to name his characters after people from less popular series.