Character Names (A Confession)

I wrote too much about how to pronounce my Skyrim character’s name recently, and there was a Daily Grind on Massively OP about character naming, too. It’s a common topic, really, and I don’t think I have a special angle on it or anything, but I am hoping that some people will come along into my comments and tell me about their character names or ones they have seen because I love that kind of stuff.

The other thing that brought this to mind was that I was playing Runes of Magic last night, which I play on an EU server through Steam and a US server through the launcher, and I use very different naming styles on each of the servers. My husband, who has had very little interest in gaming at all, leaned over and watched me play for a while last night, and I suddenly became self-conscious about playing a character named “Instantsoup” on the US server. He didn’t comment on it, so I didn’t try to explain, but I think I would have felt better about playing on the EU server where my character of the same class and race is named “Kaulana.” I am not embarrassed for other gamers in the game to see my characters named Instantsoup and Mershmerllo, but it felt different when someone from outside the game and gaming saw it. That’s probably another bizarre personal hang-up to add to the list.

I draw names from many different sources. Sometimes they are real names, sometimes they are descriptive names, some come from other languages, some are from conlangs or are made up on the spot for their aesthetic, and sometimes I give my characters goofy names.

My BDO list consists of a set of characters with made-up-on-the-spot names (Lovani, Lobit, Emindra, Cyneshia), one named after a brand of appliances (Hotpoint), and then a whole bunch named after places in Western or West Central PA (Aliquippa, Sewickley, Gibsonia, Zelienople, Windber, Coraopolis, Fishertown, Slippery Rock, Callery, and Charleroi).

I played a Shadow Knight in EverQuest named Jeezlueez Beegtrouble. That was my main for a few years.

I also once had a secondary EQ account full of support characters of various levels that had a bunch of characters with the same name spelled differently. I wish I could remember the name, but it was probably a bit like my daughter’s Kindergarten classroom 10 years ago: Emily. Emilee. Emaleigh. Emmaleigh. Emmalee. Emma-Lee. Emmelli. 

This turned into a bit of a confessional. You’ve seen some of mine. Let me see yours. Please share the good ones, the bad ones, and the WTAF ones you have seen or used. Please. I want to see them.

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6 thoughts on “Character Names (A Confession)

  1. I have a bad habit of making up character names that look good at the moment without trying to pronounce them aloud. And then I end up in a group on coms and somebody tries to say the name and I suddenly realize I hadn’t really give that aspect of the name all that much thought.

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  2. I participated in the WildStar Beta back in 2014 and wanted to call my character Brother Numsie. However it was taken and so were all the various different spelling permutations. So I ended up calling my avatar Captain Queeg. What did I learn from all this? That MMO gamers are more familiar with the works of Eddie Murphy than Herman Wouk.

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  3. Either I make mine up on the fly at character create, which is where i end up with things like Foradelle or Doralora, or I borrow names from books. Over two decades it appears my reading tastes are so obscure that no-one recognizes any of them. I’m always hoping to get a tell asking “Hey, is your character named after the one in the book?” but it has literally never happened, although I’ve had plenty asking if I’m so-and-so who used to play such-and-such, which I never am.

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  4. A long time ago I had a policy of each new character in a new game had to have their own name… which can make coming up with names really hard. So I’d take names from deities from obscure dead religions or who were little known in the west. Other times I’d take some name from an anime that sounded cool enough.

    Eventually that seemed to pretentious so I tried my hand at making my own names which proved to be even harder. Now I am at the point where I am just lazy and just give the same name to the character that will be my main in the game. If I make alts then I just search for some random name generator and keep generating names until one that doesn’t sound horrible and I can actually pronounce comes up.

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  5. I tend towards being a boring creative going for lore appropriate names. Immersion is one of my motivations for playing MMOs, so I like to make up names that would easily blend in with NPCs in the world. Better documented MMOs will tend to have a bunch of obsessive roleplayers or lore writers who set down some naming guidelines somewhere.

    GMing and worldbuilding in my younger days equals very little shortage of potential names. A name that fits my headcannon of who the character is, and -isn’t- already taken may be more trouble, but I just cycle through possibilities until something gets through.

    For more temporary games, I might steal from myself, re-using old characters’ names, or from mythology and gods. Path of Exile is one of those, where one’s character is so overpowered, it makes sense to name oneself more symbolically, like a demigod.

    The funniest I get tends to be names with double meaning. On one hand, it fits within the lore (kinda) and on a more meta level, it might have another meaning. Few people ever comment or pick up on it, alas.

    For example, I made some characters for a City of Heroes forums supergroup that someone wanted to form called Grammar Police, where the schtick was wordplay and puns. I had Bad Punctuation, a spines scrapper (punctures people, no?) costumed up like some ‘80s gangster out of Michael Jackson’s Bad music video. I forget if this was mine or someone else’s, but I remember Gram Marian, an old teacherly grandma who would be happy to forcefully correct your English.

    In GW2, I am still very fond of Peacemaker Yolo, a relatively short Asura appropriate name (if deviating slightly by the lack of doubled letters) with the meta level meaning of YOLO when it comes to group content, as I made that character once upon a time expressedly for the purpose of PUGing group content and being somewhat devil may care about whatever happened.

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