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Running in the Special Olympics

Discussion of the Evolving Nature of the MMO Industry from an Outsider's Perspective

Author: PhatWOP

What's In A Name or A IPWNj00 is just as dumb by any name Pt. 1

Posted by PhatWOP Monday January 28 2008 at 9:47AM
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I would like to speak today for a few brief moments on Naming.

In the real world, there are few things more important to our individual ideanties than our name. When we walk into a retail store, we see many employees surrounding us replete with bright blue, red or some-other-primary-color-that-alledgedly-makes-you-want-to-buy-stuff shirts and, most importantly, a name tag. When I call offices, the first thing the person says is usually "This is X Smith, thank you for calling." Our names are what we feel separate us from all of those around us, even if we have a more common moniker, something like a Chad Jones or Bob Smith, our name is still always uniquely ours.

So it would make sense if the same sensibilities applied to choosing the ID for our small digital self when we enter an MMO. Only now, the process is reversed. Instead of our name determining something about us and our personalty by hanging over our head as the sword of Damacles throughout our entire youth, now we determine the name and it has to speak ABOUT us. There are many common sayings that if I know a certain small aspect of a person (the car they drive, the job they have, the fast food restaurant they most often patronize, etc) I can extrapolate to know a great deal about that person. I would like to humbly add to that great list of hyperbole, MMO Names. I think few things are more instructive of the real person's greater personality than the name they choose for their digital self.

I think we can identify a couple major groups of name "species". All members of that name species will have similar characteristics and actions. Let's do some digital anthropology.

The first group is probably not th emost common, but it seems as such based on the annoyance you feel when you see them. The 1337 boi. The l337 kids will generally have names including numbers (if that games name system allows it) and a mix of small letters and CAPS iN tH3 wR0nG p14C3s (again, if allowed). In games with stricter naming policies, they will simply cut to the chase and name themselves somthing like "spitonu" or "pwnjoo". Most often these names also have the undertones of killing, maiming, destoying and/or otherwise "owning" you (but not in a slavery way). The most common assumption is that these are all 12 year old kids who don't have the maturity to act in line with the game in question. I think this is only half-true. The second type of person in this species are fully-grown adults who know that everyone thinks they are children, and use this as a cover to let their id's run wild. Protected by the annonimity of the internet and the stigma that there is no way a rational adult would act in such a fashion, they are free to travel the world, /spit'ing on whomever they choose. I think the defining feature of this group is they do not play well with members outside their species. They are definetly carnivores and tend to be nocturnal.

The second major group is the "comedy" name people. They play the game to laugh and escape. This is a large group and sadly, the group I most likely count myself among. I try to fit withing the flavor of the world if possible, but I want to be funny and that is often more important to me. I think this group tends to be achiever's with a sense of humor and are often detached from the lore of the world they are playing in. Role-Playing is also probably a low-prioity for tihs group as its hard to take a character named "Circus Freak" as my bearded female dwarf in EQ was, seriously. I had an undead rogue named Trenchfoot (I thought that was a nice win, it felt appropriate and funny) and a Ratonga Necro named Reapercheep in EQ2 (which btw, is the funny name I am most proud of in my 10+ years of playing MMOs). I would like to make a special shout-out here to another character I did not name but has stayed in my memory to this day. A wookie from SWG named Tu-Pacca. First off, that is one of the funniest names I have ever head, period. Secondly, Tu-Pacca's back story was something like "Tu-Pacca grew up on the rough streets of Corillia shooting chance cubes in the alleys". I think I honestly fell out of my chair when I saw that. I think the defning feature of this species is that they tend to want to get along with anyone who is funny and drama-lite (tm). They are omnivores and tend to have a normal Day-Night schedule.

That's all for this installment. Next time we look at two new and exciting species Name Repeaters (same name in every game) and Name Copiers (Legolass, Leggolas, Llegolass, etc).

Until next time,

May your name say only nice things about you.

Zycie writes:

What a great article! I fall mostly into the second category, though it's really easy to have a comedic name in City of Heroes. What about the roleplayers who scour a game's lore section to get a feel for appropriate names?

By the way... Tu-Pacca. Hilarious! I laughed for a good two minutes when I saw that.

Tue Jan 29 2008 12:09AM Report writes:
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