Naming conventions

None of my characters’ names can be related to each other. They’re not even thematically linked… they range from Drythorn – which I thought was a pretty good name for an elf – to Infaris – which is a combination of syllables I thought sounded nice – to Vensters, which is actually an afrikaans word meaning “windows”.

Sure, they mostly fall into the pattern of “pick two words and shove ’em together” school of fantasy naming. Thing is, though, at least there’s no constant. By this I mean that my priest isn’t called “Dryheals”, my warrior isn’t called “Dryrage”, etc.

I don’t really get why people do this. Sure, folks will recognise that it’s the same player behind the name – most of the time – but it costs in terms of the character feeling like a sort of optional extra. Especially with “Prefix+role” type names, it feels a bit like the player didn’t care enough about the character and more about their own identity. They’re not playing another character, they’re changing their metaverse avatar.

Through the link above, Cynwise explores the idea of WoW as a Snow Crash style metaverse concept. I read that book after getting into cyberpunk via William Gibson, and I disagree that SC ruins Neuromancer… but that’s another argument. Thing is, in the Metaverse described, the avatar used doesn’t substantially affect interaction with the environment. In WoW… it really does.

When I’m playing I’m in mumble with Alex, Chris and Sasha, sure, but on the playing field it’s Infaris, Halgrond and Jornath slaughtering exotic civilizations willy-nilly. Having one of those be ChrissieXxXlock detracts from the context. It’s the same reason why people rail against LoLeggolass and similar names – they’re cheap shortcuts, and they tend to betray a focus on player rather than character.

In the end, while we most of us play for the people rather than the game, I just feel like an entity that exists entirely within the game should have some context within it. But take that with a grain of salt coming from the guy who effectively named his warrior “Windows”.

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