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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blog Azeroth - Shared Topic: What's in a Name?

What takes the longest to choose, is the first thing people see, and is the one thing they always remember about you and your character? Your name.

How did you decide upon the name for your character(s)? How long did it take you to come up with your name? Has your character name become your online persona, or maybe the other way around? Do you have any tips for naming your characters in WoW, or any other game? Resources, name generators, mythology websites, sources of inspiration, etc.

So much can be said about names. What does yours say?

This week's Blog Azeroth shared topic from Llani at Pocket Heals is a subject near and dear to my heart: character names. I love naming characters, and picking out just the perfect name to go with a character concept. I can peruse baby names websites for hours, and keep a running list of good names (some "real" names, some made up names) to use in MMOs. I try to look at a lot of different things: ease of spelling and pronounciation, names that sound like they fit in the game world, names that aren't overused in books/games/pop culture, names that have interesting ethnic backgrounds and meanings.

Betsea:
She's my main and was the first character to hit level cap during vanilla. Originally her name was Brynne, which came from looking up Welsh/Gaelic names, which I thought would fit a female dwarf well. It means "black-haired", which was perfect for my dwarf at the time. I thought it was a simple enough name, although it ended up being a very difficult name for people to pronounce... a lot of folks would call me "brine" in vent! Eventually I just became "Bry" for short, which was fine.

After a server transfer or two, I ended up having to choose a new name for her shortly after Wrath of the Lich King came out. I wanted it to start with a "B" for continuity. My husband had at the time just given me a Betsey Johnson purse for Christmas, and that was my inspiration for Betsea. I still think it sounds dwarfish, but cute, and the shortened version "Bets" is what my guildies typically call me these days.

For RP purposes, even though the character is technically the same character, I RP Betsea as being Brynne's daughter. I changed her hairstyle and color so that she looks different, but still resembles the original Brynne in the face. Her last name is "Stoutheart", and to be honest, I don't remember exactly where I came up with that. It fits her well though.

Tip: When picking out a name, consider that the first 3-4 letters is likely what people will call you. If your name is Malapridiusch, you're always going to be "Mal", both in voice chat and in game chat.

Soleile:
I thought of this name a few years ago when Warhammer Online came out, and it was the name of one of my elves there. Sadly, I don't think the elves were ever leveled past 10 or so, but the name quickly became one of my favorites. Soleil is French for "sun", and most people know of Cirque du Soleil or Soleil Moon Frye, otherwise known as Punky Brewster back in the day. I ended up naming my Rune-Keeper in LotRO Soleile, and after I turned my WoW druid into a boomkin, it seemed extremely appropriate for her as well, considering the eclipse mechanic.

I pronounce her name So-Lay, which may or may not be correct, but it works for me. The only downside is that Soleile is a bit complicated to spell.

Chixie:
My gnome mage has been through more name changes than any other character. She started out as Chixie, then became Whimsie, then Whimsi, then Chixi, then Chixea, then back to Chixie. Mostly this was due to my fickleness, and then trying to fit her name into a naming convention that I set up and later scrapped. Anyways, Chixie just seems like a good gnomish name.

It's also a bit of a throwback to my very first MMO character. My first MMO was City of Heroes and my first character there was named (don't laugh) Cyber Chick. She was a energy/empathy defender with a cyberpunk outfit, hot pink crazy hair, and a bad attitude. My gnome also has pink hair in the cute new pigtails style, and Chixie reminds me of that original name.

Jhaelia:
In the weeks before The Burning Crusade released, my friends in the guild I was in at the time were working on draenei names and backstories for our draenei. It was admittedly a little rough, as it was a totally new race, we only had the names of well-known Eredar to work off of (Velen, Kil'Jaeden, etc), and we had no draenei NPCs to get inspiration from. I finally ended up taking the "Jae" portion of Kil'Jaeden and named my draenei priest simply "Jae".

After dual-specs became possible, I turned Jae into a horde priest and changed her name. When I recently rolled a new draenei shaman, I decided to use "Jae" as inspiration and changed it up a bit, making it Jhaelia.

Quigley/Quiglea:
Shockingly, this name wasn't taken on Steamwheedle Cartel, and it is being held as the name for my new human hunter. It's of Irish origin, and is also known from the movie Quigley Down Under.

My Quigley will be a female hunter from either Redridge or Westfall, with a boar, a moonshine still, a southern accent, and a very big gun. It should be fun! I still haven't decided which spelling variation I'm going to go with, but I'm leaning towards the original "Quigley".

Paislea:
I currently have a blood elf rogue named Paislea, although I'm strongly considering deleting her and rerolling a female worgen rogue named Paislea instead. When I look at the Worgen, I get a very British, Tim Burton-esque, Sweeney Todd type of feel from them. Paislea was one of the names on my list and while it's Scottish in origin, I think it would be an appropriate name to go with a darkly themed two-sided race.

So, what would I recommend to folks who are trying to find new names? Name generators are fine, but sometimes the names they generate are either incredibly long or downright ugly. I certainly recommend sites like babynames.com to search for names of a particular ethnicity or feel that you think would fit the race you're naming. Consider alternate spellings, within reason. Special characters in a name will just make it difficult for people to invite you to groups and guilds. Just like when you name a child, think about what nicknames, both good and bad, might be derived from the name. If you want a name that is actually two words (like Windfury or Leafblade), then for RP purposes, think about having that be your characters last name, and having him go by his last name, military-style.

And if all else fails, start a list! Sometimes I'll be out doing something completely un-related to gaming and a certain word will strike me as being "a good WoW name" or "a good gnome name" or such. Keep a list and it'll make things much easier when you decide to roll a new character. 




1 comment:

  1. I've used babynames.com a few times myself - it's really a great resource if one likes names :)

    I keep lists of gaelic, greek and other names for myself and will use them (as long as their not taken) for characters. Sometimes I try to change them a little to make it available ;)

    Good point about thinking about the first few letters of longer names too - since it's definitely true that people will shorten it. So it's probably a good idea to make sure they don't spell out something horrible you really don't want to be called!

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