Saturday, February 23, 2008

Worries about namegiving

Oh dear. That's what I felt the other day, after deciding to seriously start levelling an alt. Not that I didn't look forward to it, on the contrary, I was enthusiastic about my new char and to the perspective of seeing the game from another point of view. But between me and my new hero there was that awful mountain that had to be climbed: The Namegiving.

Starting a char just for the fun of it, not seriously thinking about levelling to 70 is a completely different thing. Bank characters. Ratrace ladies. Joke characters like that could be named anything, like "Hellohello", nobody will care much about it. But naming an char that you actually intend to play is totally different - you've got to feel that it's right. A name that you aren't comfortable with will turn into something like an itching bite from a mosquito - in worst case you'll end up deserting your char, though it actually had deserved better. When I decide names for real characters, which I almost will play with the same enthusiasm as my main, I'm always pretty serious about it.

Things won't be easier when the imagination seems to have faded away just like it does on many grown-ups. In nine out of ten cases it turns out someone else has already thought about it before. When you after seconds, minutes or in worst case hours will be writing that well considered, carefully modelled name, you'll be met by the response that the name is occupied. Bam boom you're dead. Just start it all over again.

In the game I've met all sorts of principles when it comes to naming. There are of course all of those more or less recognizable names taken from heroes, often from fantasy, SF or comics. Nice names that often fits pretty well into the environment, though I find it pretty odd to see the Star Trek hero Tuvok, disguised as a bowhunting nightelf. While they both have pointed ears, it still feels a bit far fetched.

Another strategy is to call yourself the same as your class, with some kind of more or less cleaver addition. Evilmage. Imbapriest. Darkwarrior. It may work, but you don't really stick out in the crowd. It's pretty dull in my eyes.

Then there are all those people who more or less randomly seem to go over the keyboard, maybe in frustration after failing to find some name that isn't already taken. This strategy is used by gold sellers, but actually also by normal players. It's always short names, that resemble to some kind of unknown abbreviation. Trkt. Xst. Prtat. I've always wondered how they manage to call for each other on Teamspeak. My tongue slips a knot on itself.

How about Larisa then? What was the idea behind that name? Well I shouldn't pretend that it was very well thought, brilliant or imaginative. I had just started playing the game and I didn't know much about how names were supposed to be made. But I was pretty clear over that I wanted a name that felt like a... name - even though I'm playing at a normal PvE server, not going for role playing. So I excluded pure words with names like: Cucumber, Goodlooking, Indifferent. I thought that a name shouldn't be in opposition with a feeling that my char actually was some kind of hero, just trying to save the world.

It also was important that the name should work internationally. I thought I would mostly play in an English speaking environment, and I didn't want to make things unnecessary hard.
Normal, modern names you use for persons, I wanted to avoid. Swedish names like Barbro, Elin and Matilda didn't give me the right feeling. I would rather have something timeless or maybe a bit historic. As many other do I started to glance at the Greek, Egyptian and old Nordic mythology, but everything I came to think of turned out to be occupied.

After that I don't know how it happened, but from Greek mythology it seemed that the step to geography wasn't too big. I pulled out an atlas and started to look. Pure touristic sites like Kos and Rhodos I passed quickly. I didn't want anything that well known. My eyes passed over the atlas and suddenly they had stuck on the town Larisa. It was simple, easy to pronounciate, both in English and in Swedish. It didn't give me any special association, it was more like a blank paper. Why not give it a try? Suddenly the computer started working on it, the movie was showing and Larisa was borne.

One year later I'm still happy with Larisa. She is the one she is and I haven't once considered the name-changing- service that Blizzard offers nowadays.
If I had known what I know today I would have thought twice before picking a name out of an atlas. The Greek server population goes crazy seeing me in Stormwind and always have to ask me - in Greek - if I'm from the same country. (At least that's what I believe they ask). I could live without that.

The other day I had to go through it all over again. Larisa was about to get a younger sister. A gnome, though this time with black hair, a bit tougher and with a sulky look, ring on the top of her ear and a knife in her hand, ready to backstab anyone around her. What should she be could I find a name that after a while would feel as natural as Larisa, something I could live with for a long time?

I walked around like a hen waiting to lay eggs, thinking about it. Playing with letters and syllables, putting together, taking away. I started to look in the atlas once again, in spite of that I knew better. Could I find a name of some unknown island in Indonesia, wow shouldn't have reached that area yet, or at least they weren't playing on the European servers. But - no. The names of the Indonesien Archipelago just didn't fit with my rogue.

Suddenly I started to play with the letters in the name Larisa. I pulled them in all directions, threw in one or another letter. And suddenly I found it. Arisal. It was love at first sight. Even before I knew it would pass, I felt instinctivly that I was first - this name was meant for me. The movie started and I could start breathing again. Once more I had conquered the Namegiving Mountain and I could let Arisal roll out in the snow, ready to start attacking wild boar and wolves, equipped with a blunt knife, but with a name that will last up to level 70 and far beyond

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