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Community Forum Spotlight: What's in a Name??

Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at a thread from our forums that discusses names and naming conventions in MMORPGs. How important are those floaty words above our heads, anyway?

Community Forum Spotlight: What's in a Name??
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virtual world allows us an escape from reality. When we're gaming, we can be whoever we want to be - when we're in an MMO, we can show our ideal self to other people. But with character customization often limited to several hairstyles, faces, and skin colors, this self-image often needs to be projected in a different way: through our name.

Progression down the MMO timeline has divided MMOers on naming conventions: there are those who find great value in a "roleplay" name, and more casual namers who describe their utility or personality with their name, such as "Buffz4 Lotsacash". This week on the forums, user Luxthor, a favorer of roleplay names, made a post asking MMORPG.com users where they find the "best" and "worst" names.

To Luxthor, the best place to find well thought out names is Dark Age of Camelot. "People really care about naming their characters. And there is lots of medieval like names." On the other hand, Luxthor finds Guild Wars names a "complete disaster, if you played [this game] 10 minutes you will know what I mean...people use completely obscene sentences for names."

Kanubis replies, citing Lord of the Rings Online as the best place to find proper names. "It probably helps that they give suggested name beginnings and ends for each race/gender."

User Faur isn't as picky about his names. "I'm not a roleplayer...so as long as names aren't flat out offensive or immature, I don't really care much. I've named a couple of my characters 'CheesyFantasyName' and 'PewPewPew' when I couldn't think of anything."

Vaah cites EverQuest as one of the best places to find roleplay names, "simply because...that's the era where us gamers cared more about our characters by giving them actual names instead of this current generation players with words as names."

The most commonly cited game, though, is the City of Heroes/Villains duo. "City of X has some funny and random names," states Gammit100, "but they somehow still 'fit' with the universe." I agree completely - the concept behind the game allows for fantasy names, sci-fi, even corny names.

As for me - one thing I find interesting about this thread is not the question itself, but the thoughts behind it: that roleplay names are "good" and non-roleplay names are "bad." My first character name was a roleplay game - this was back before my illusions of roleplaying in MMORPGs were shattered. I entered Lineage: The Blood Pledge as a level 1 princess named Taera, tried to roleplay, and got laughed at - my next characters were non-roleplay names, such as "Tiktak" or "Clues" (with the title Blues!).

I eventually returned to my roleplay names, but as someone who has lived on both sides of the fence, so to speak, Luxthor's thread made me consider: how do I view people based on their name? Do I, like user Renith, label all-caps or "bulls*%t" names as kiddies? Or am I desensitized to the various naming conventions used in our virtual society?

It does have an effect on my outlook, especially when it comes to strangers. If I need a tank for my group, and I have to choose between "Melyndier" and "CokieMonster" I would approach the former first. I don't entirely judge a character by their name, but I limit my encounters with the latter naming group - sadly, they're often disappointing. It seems that these are younger gamers, more prone to distractions, drama, poor gameplay, etc.

You can read the original thread here.