Character Names and Why You Shouldn’t Care

Something that came up on Casualties’ Vent chat over the weekend was the pronounciation of my character’s name. I guess I asked for this when I picked it, but I feel the need to set the record straight. It’s Einfeuer, procounced, more or less, AYN-feer. It means ‘one fire’ in German. It is not ‘Einfuhrer’, which means something else entirely. No, I don’t speak fluent German, but I did take it in college and have (literally) a whole shelf of foreign language dictionaries sitting next to my desk at home from which I can derive names like this, a side benefit of spending the last several years regularly playing a tabletop RPG set in medieval Europe.

Thus arises an interesting topic for discussion, that of character names in MMOs. We’ve all seen the bad ones, of course – there was a character running around named ‘Massivedump’ in the WAR beta, and we’ve all seen the WoW hunters named ‘Legolaz’ or some variation thereof. The fact that one tends to find less of this on Roleplaying servers is one reason I like to play on them as opposed to regular servers.

It’s my opinion that good character names reinforce immersion within the fantasy world, and therefore, because I like immersiveness, I think they’re kind of important. I chose ‘Einfeuer’ because it fits both the character and the setting, wherein the Old World’s ‘Empire’ is an analogue of the Holy Roman (German) Empire of the sixteen and seventeenth centuries.

Now, in a tabletop setting, I as the Gamemaster can always veto lame character names, or even better, elect not to play with the likes of people who would name their D&D fighter ‘Steve Austin’ (true story.) But MMOs are much more inclusive, and trust me, no matter how good your MMO’s community, there’s some tool playing who just has to name his character ‘Pwnurnutz’ or the like.

But the point of an MMO is that there is a massive number of people playing – it’s not a tabletop game where you can handpick the six people you want to play with and never deal with anybody else. By the nature of the hobby, one has to be able to put up with this, to mentally filter out stuff that would otherwise inhibit your ability to enjoy the game. WoW players should be familiar with the practice, unless they enjoy reading Chuck Norris Facts posted repeatedly to open chat. I expect that people flatly unable to do this will find few MMOs enjoyable. It’s probably less of an issue in, say, LotRO, which has a pretty mature and serious community, or City of Heroes, in which a cheesy character name isn’t necessarily out of place (and which also has a fairly mature community.)

In any such large community, there are bound to be people you consider dimwits, and people whose enjoyment of the game pivots on different axes than yours does. You have to be okay with that, or at least willing to ignore it, or your MMO experience is going to be either limited, brief, or both.


3 responses to “Character Names and Why You Shouldn’t Care

  1. Haha! You know – one thing I almost constantly do is add a double A to your name. I have no idea why, it’s almost instinctive now. Ahh well :>

    Personally I kept the name thing simple. My Engineer is called Heidi. My Warrior Priest is called Samantha. Everyone is happy! 😀

  2. On the WAR roleplay servers, there’s a huge warning that comes up before you create your character, seems they have some pretty strict rules for naming there – which I am all in favour of. Of course, some slip through the cracks. But they clearly state if you make any name that goes against the pages of rules, you will be forced to rename.