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Mar 11, 2009



Another related issue is the one of names in foreign languages. As a Hungarian, other Hungarian players can recognize me if I use a name in my native language. But if I still want to communicate with other people, it's useful to avoid using accentuated letters that are very common in Hungarian. Also, I can play with the feelings the same row of characters evoke in different languages. For example I have a character whose name is Tenger. She is a she, and a druid. I think the name does have a feeling in a fantasy environment, while in Hungarian it means Sea. It's a funny game to find the perfect name for each of your avatars, if you try take into consideration all of these factors;)


There's a curious side issue to that--there are players who use accented characters in their names in order to be more difficult to casually contact, or in order to have a name that they'd like to have which is already taken.


You missed out (Gnome) Chomsky.


I had an Alliance shammy named "Durkheim." He loooooves the totems!


Quite a few Chomsky and Durkheims, it turns out.

Another amusing vein: disguised obscenities and insults.

Bullsheet (73)
Forkyou (34)
Upyours (59)
Doggystile (15)
Fokk (3)
Cuhnt (3)
Aswiper (1)

And so on. Most of the really obvious variations of fuck, cocksucker, and so on have clearly been disallowed. But that leaves an infinite field for the imaginative.


I couldn't resist - I now have a troll shaman named "Postcolonial."

One of the most entertaining naming conventions in WoW is punning and/or beef-related names for Tauren - our guild has a "Kaotao" and a "Cowlune." Humorous names seem much more common for Tauren than for other races, probably due to the incongruity of cows in battle.

Do other races - dwarves or gnomes, maybe - invite clever humor in naming?


Interesting observations. I know I thought hard for more than a few moments before naming my first hunter "SnuffMuffin", and was surprised at the number of both directly positive and negative comments the name generated in-game.

Conversely, when the "Chef" title was announced, I promptly renamed my Human rogue "Ramsay", and am thus the only "Chef Ramsay" running about on my server. I'm a bit disappointed that this hasn't garnered a single comment from any other player, but maybe cooking and MMO's don't correlate...

I'd be interesting to look at the deviation from common real-world names based on the physical deviation of player avatars. Are Human toons more likely to have "Human" names? Do players feel more free to diverge from the commonplace if their characters happen to be seven-foot tall cows? How do players react when the world imposes more strenuous restrictions on names (I'm thinking about LotRO)?


I do tend to use humor when naming gnomes. I am particularly fond of my banker alt named zurich (hello to any fellow Illuminati fans). :)

In general though, I got more punny with my horde characters, like my orc hunter named Thaime, or my Tauren Shaman named Aberdhene.


On the subject of the armory, I'm always impressed by the rather serious efforts to glean data from it which have sprung up.


Scroll back through the posts to find answers on data, methodology, and...well...lots more data.

As for the name thing, one more obvious role for the extended character set is to skirt name restrictions--most often to find some way to name a NE hunter legolas.


In PvP MUDs, like MUD1, there's a tactical advantage in having a name that is difficult for a killer to type.

By the time they've typed "k dsjhkfsduhsdf w ls", dsjhkfsduhsdf is long gone.

Unfortunately, "k them w ls" (which a self-respecting killer probably has programmed on function key F1) reduces some of this advantage. You can but hope that the game will resolve "them" to something the killer didn't expect.


I never been in WoW, but what about macroer/gold miner taking random names out of dictionaries? Beats random string of letters... I know in eve some macro miner names look very much like being randomly generated...



We looked a little bit at this while PlayOn was alive: http://blogs.parc.com/playon/archives/2006/06/naming_patterns.html

At the time, most of my play experience had been on RP servers where there was some enforcement about not using names that contained titles or rubbed against the game motif. As a result, I don't think it occurred to us to look for common words. Honestly, I guess I'm RP at heart, and would just as soon names be names and not commentaries.


It doesn't surprise me that people name their chars after everyday material objects. I suppose they did exactly what you did, Tim, to come up with names (in your case for the search). They simply looked around to get inspired. ("Damn, I have to find a name. Oh, I'm so not creative. Oh, I see a table. Table. Yeah, table! Great name.")

It would be interesting to analyse the naming conventions even further, e.g. in accordance with in-game correlations (Aliance/Horde, male/female and so on) and real-life characteristics (age, country of origin, blabla).

Here is an example: There are 91 chars named "Anorexia", and 86 are with the Horde. Surely no coincidence.

Obviously one name search is not sufficient for a proper scientific study, but by looking for similar patterns among a larger group of terms, someone may actually get a basis for robust results.


Oh, it doesn't surprise me either, but what I think is interesting then is that it's a kind of accidental inventory of the material world of players. I almost think of it the way I think about narratives of spirit possession where I worked in southern Africa--ancestral spirits would ask people to observe certain kinds of material practices (or avoid other material objects) for a short period of time, and there's a way in which that was an kind of accidental history of material culture in this region. (E.g., the antiquity of the spirit often matched the material culture it wanted to be associated with). You could almost get a visceral map of what's around players by tracing the frequency of different objects-as-names. That's complicated a bit by other considerations--some objects "sound" better as names, or are funnier or more appropriate-seeming.




All of my WoW characters begin with "Gothar". Gothar was my UO primary character. So far I have Gotharum, Gotharia, Gotharen..


On bolt's point, I recall Dmitri Williams (aka Suntan/Sunspot/Sun*) noting that naming based around people's first character was so prevalent that he was just going to call his character "Motif" and be done with it.


My Wow characters begin with kill3r : kill3rsen , kill3rz0r . I saw in Wow many names like "ossama bin laden, jessus" and many like this.I think blizzard must forbidden this names.

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