Would a Cow by Any Other Name Smell as…

eeeeeeeeeeeew. No, I don’t reccomend going around smelling cows. They’re not alltogether unpleasant, kind of earthy and musky but… ok, on topic here. I’m going to talk about names!

Many-a-time I’ve sat, staring at the character creation screen and noodling my little brain to come up with the perfect nomenclature for what will, in essence, become a representation of myself in the virtual world. This happens with most every game I play.

The Discovery of Games that were not Lode Runner or King’s Quest

I believe the first time I was ever faced with such a choice was on a frigid christmas morning. My sister and I had ravaged the presents under the christmas tree, sorted through the inevitable socks, sweaters, and pajamas, put aside large projects like legos, and were munching happily on packs of Big Red chewing gum that were always present in our stockings.

We migrated from the music room/library and into the den and, wonder of wonders! There under the tiny tree used to decorate our behemoth of a TV (you remember the kind, that had a whole cabinet built around it). Under the tiny tree were nestled a number of boxes. One was rather large for one so small as me, and the rest were rather smaller. I don’t remember how many of the smaller ones were there, but I know there were at least two.

My sister and I tore into the boxes and, from that moment onward, my future was fixed. The large box contained a Super Nintendo, our first gaming system, and the smaller boxes contained games. Among them were classic mario, The Lion King, and the all-important title, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.

With the help of the ever-tech-savvy dad we got the system hooked up and I slammed in Zelda. It became a ritual to me. I let the game boot up, I didn’t touch the controller, instead letting it idle and see what secrets it would tell me. Soon the story panel came up, explaining about the wise men and the old knights and the golden land. Finall I got to the character screen and it asked for my name. My name? My name was Lexi, so I put that in.

Soon after starting play, however, I felt divorced from the character. Zelda was calling to me, calling “Lexi, save me! I’m in the castle!” Even at that young age I knew a male hero and a storyline ripe for romance when I saw one, and I didn’t fancy treading down exploratory paths towards homosexuality.

So from that moment, every time I played a console game that featured a male hero (almost all the time) I named him Llano. A name similar enough to my own and yet male-sounding. Something primal inside myself was satisfied and I continued on with my merry life.

Your Massively what?

Then came the wonderful world of MMOs. I started with Guild Wars, adamantly refusing to pay money for a game then need to pay to play online. I spent long hours deciding what I’d call my character, planning which class to choose. I eventually settled on an archer and dubbed her Piper Alice. There was much symbolism with Lewis Carrol and the Pied Piper thrown in there, but she never really stuck.

I don’t remember how I found my way to the monk class. I think a friend wanted to bring up an alt and I knew enough about the game that if I was going to play a healer getting through the prologue without a buddy would be nigh impossible. So, sitting at my desk and drumming my fingers I’d look around the room. I didn’t see much to inspire me so I typed in a name I’d consistently enjoyed. Morgan. I think perhaps I’d seen Magic Knight Rayearth recently, definitely within the last year. Maybe that had something to do with her last name. I’ll never know, but she became Morgan Ascot. Healing monk extrordinaire. She had dark skin, light hair bundled in a thong swung around her shoulder. Oh yes, her armor was naught but a brah, a loincloth, and a set of full-body tattoos. Dyed white, of course.

As wonderful a game as Guild Wars is, it plays more like a Roleplay-Adventure game than an actual MMO. The gameplay and storyline were amazing and compelling, pulling me along to the end of the game, like a good book you just can’t put down. Once the story is done though, the lack of extra ‘crap’ doesn’t leave much to hold you there. Yes there were expansions, but by that time I’d fallen on some very hard times and couldn’t afford them.

Eventually, someone enticed me to give WoW a try.

He played Alliance, so of course I must play alliance as well. I had no intention of running around doing things by myself. Upon rolling up the Allinace screen I hemmed and hawed over race selection. To my eyes Alliance was just so vanilla-flavored and, well, boring! I’d played Warcraft II and III, I knew the story of the horde, and I didn’t really feel like playing as the ‘bad guys’ (the alliance). But I did anyway. The only option that didn’t leave me snoring were the Night Elves.

I chose to play a hunter and, as soon as I could, ditched my bow for a gun and moved to Dun Morogh. I believe I’ve recounted the story of my snow elf before, so I won’t go into it again here. I will say, however, that I named her Lunarshot. A combination of her heritage and her enjoyment of ballistics. It worked for me and I managed to level her up to 38 before money became tight again and she was abandoned.

I don’t know what enticed me to give WoW another try, but I did. This time, my husband and I started fresh, on a new server, and with new alligencies. I rolled a Troll Priest and named her Zudjaldi, a properly trollish name with a feminine twist. I never could stick with her though, maybe it had to do with her wobbling gait, I may never know.

I was piddling around in the character creation screen, typing in random words to see what was taken.

Eventually I typed in Coal.

I hit ‘accept’

the engine told me ‘Character Created’.

‘No way’, I thought, some dwarf hunter would’ve claimed that name long ago, but no. The name was mine, all mine. I created a dusky-furred Tauren, female, a Druid. Her name was Coal. I’d been unable to stick with any character for long so I made a promise to myself. I’d managed to procure this awesome name, I was going to stick with it and be level 60.

And so I did. I leveled Coal all the way up to level 63 in fact, earned the title of Sergent in the old-school PvP, farmed for the Embrace of the Viper set until I was too high to get any use out of it.

Eventually, of course, things being what they are my life took another turn and finances were tight. WoW is always the first thing cut. We use internet as our sole source of entertainment, eschewing cable or satellite television and renting movies if that’s what we want.

Conditions were improving and a friend was enticing me to come play with her. I would have to transfer servers, have to find a new name. I’d been Coal for so long being somebody else just didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t face the grind from 1 to 63 again. So I transfered Coal and began creating characters on the server to try and find a name.

At one point, once again heavily influenced by Lewis Carrol, her name was destined to be Gimble. I’d first tried Coal, Koal, Kohl (a favorite), but there was no such luck. It was then that my playlist cycled through to this song:

My toes started tapping, I started humming along, and soon enough I was singing,

That’s right that’s right that’s right that’s right

I really love your tiger light!

That’s neat that’s neat that’s neat that’s neat

I really love your Tiger Feet!

Your Tiger fee-heeeeeeeeet!

I tried Tigerfeet, it was accepted, and so Coal became Tigerfeet. At first it felt odd, like I was walking around in someone else’s skin. My vent ID still says Coal, though I’ve changed my phonetic to Tigerfeet. I also, for a short time, had a blood elf hunter named Tigerlight, but something about her was lacking, and she was eventually deleted.

When naming a character…

The name I choose depends greatly on the world I’ll be bringing said character into. WoW is rampant with frivolity and pop culture references. I have no problem naming my druid Tigerfeet, my mage Romaine, and my hunter Kowbelle (with a pink tallstrider named Floyd). I giggle madly whenever I play my Blood Elf Warlock, suitably dubbed Imnotgay. He still swears up and down denial is just a river in Egypt.

My Warhammer characters, however, have much more serious names. My Witch Hunter is named Moira. She’s fair skinned and red-haired, purely zealous and very irish. I love her dearly. My earthy dwarven Rune Priest I’ve dubbed Svenka. It’s a nice solid slavic name. WAR is such a gritty environment, it takes itself quite seriously that I really do not enjoy ‘funny’ names when I see them. I play on a core server though, so if it really bothers me I should move back to a roleplay server.

I played a fun little MMO for a time called Horizons. This one was fun because it allowed you to play as an actual dragon. Customization is very good and it took quite a while for the novelty of being a dragon to wear off. I set out to create the gaudiest flying lizard I could, but everyone tells me that my artistic sense of beauty won out. I’d crafted a bubblegum pink dragon with a pastel blush of cream running down her belly and her scales accented by teal freckles. Here’s a picture of her:

I named her Amarante, I believe it means shining or something to that effect. I can’t recall, but I liked the name.

One thing I have learned, weather I choose a more serious name for a darker environment or a more immersive experience, or something more light-hearted (like kowbelle), I find myself growing quite attached to my chosen nomenclature. I’m one to embrace change, but having a name is one thing that I prefer to stay constant, once it’s chosen.

That said, of course, I can’t really see myself ever going back to being ‘Coal the Druid’, Tigerfeet is just way too much fun.

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