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One-Liner: I Dub Thee on Game and Player

One-Liner: I Dub Thee

Michael Ubaldi  //  April 25, 2010

How much do you think about names, tags and handles?


take christening in video games seriously. I have two reasons. First, names reflect something about us and pique or inspire others. Second, but for great effort, once we choose a name for a character or handle, we're stuck with it.

My Xbox Live gamertag, East India Tea, can be traced all the way back to — I played terran in Starcraft, and wanted autocratic magnificence. What better name than one invoking the company that once ruled India? In World of Warcraft, a game encouraging players to create a whole cast of heroes, I've plucked luminaries from history and legend, and have created portmanteaus out of two different languages.

Tags and toons aren't exactly as consequential as a child, a street or a ship-of-the-line. But whenever I play online, my attention is drawn to how people want themselves identified. Some monikers are clever; others cryptic; still more, to my peculiarly visceral annoyance, are so glib or coarse that I wonder if the player considered nominal ergonomics and realized that an offhand remark would remain with him day after day. Then I acknowledge the instance of "420" in the name and rule that out.

How much do you think about names, tags and handles — what sources do you use? Are you, really, someone who'll just pull it out of a hat?

Joseph Powell // April 25, 2010 // 10:05 AM

I never think about character names when it comes to single player games. Online handles are slightly different, though, but most of the time I'll use one of my two online monikers: chocobojoe or helix eternal. I don't play many online games where you would have a specific character name (such as WoW) but if I did, I would try to come up with something appropriate and not just some random name.

QuizMaster // April 25, 2010 // 4:42 PM

Are clan tags still a thing anymore? That's what I want to know....without any investigation of my own.

Mattellis // April 25, 2010 // 9:48 PM

My gamertag, Favorite Savior, came from an old Nirvana song, "Blandest."

When it comes to characters in RPGs, I usually pick a name appropriate for the setting of the game and the type of character I have. In Oblivion and Dragon Age I tend to use names related to Lloyd Alexander's "Book of Three" saga that I cherished as a child. Taran is a popular name. For Fallout 3 I mashed together a pair of my favorite post-colonial fiction writers and came up with Conrad Forster (Joseph Conrad and E.M. Forster). I've got friends who pick names to be funny (that is, if you think a dark elf named Clint Eastwood is funny) but I try to keep the name of my character somewhat grounded in the fiction provided.

Michael Ubaldi // April 25, 2010 // 10:09 PM

Quiz: Games like Modern Warfare 2 allow four-character tags, which usually contribute to obscenities spelled out with special characters. And MMOs, of course, allow for the creation of guild names.

Savior: I like that. There are an awful lot of heroes to be made out of unexpected compounds. Finding the right one can take awhile sometimes, but there's nothing quite like a name that fits.

TheSwP // April 27, 2010 // 1:37 AM

Character creation to me is a personalized form of roleplay. I try to give mine handles that reflect their demeanor and are in keeping with the world in which they exist.

I, too, love Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series and most of my fantasy characters end up being named after his creations. I made it a point to make class-appropriate versions of all of them in WoW, though I never ended up leveling more than two of them. Still, it felt great to have them all lined up in my character screen.

My gamertag came from a line of my favorite Rancid song. It got abbreviated after I realized what a mouthful it could be. Lars Freidriksen eventually elaborated the idea with his side project, The Bastards. I still consider those songs to be personal themes when I'm feeling my oats.

Alexandr Beran // May 4, 2010 // 4:35 AM

Great topic! It's something I put a load of thought into when getting comfortable with a game's lead character. And I did fork over the $10 to reassign my own gamertag.

But I'll never get cozy with the sight of numbers tacked on to the end of a moniker. Kudos to those that find interesting meaning to 'em and all, but I really don't need to be reminded of your birfday everytime you pick me up in a videogame jeep.

Michael Ubaldi // May 4, 2010 // 10:24 AM

But, Alexandr: pHaTsNiPeR666420316 is my best and only friend!

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