(Gnome) Tank for Life

WoW (sur)names
March 23, 2010, 14:29
Filed under: real-life, thought

The name’s Bond. James Bond.

At the risk of making my blog look like a wish list of features/functions that I’d like to see in WoW, this post questions why WoW still only features single-word names. No, there will be no quoting Shakespeare.

I recently read an article on wow.com which goes into the fine details of naming characters in WoW and it evoked a recurring thought: why Blizzard still didn’t implement surnames in WoW. Take a look at some other MMO’s, some of which even predate WoW (Everquest, Guild Wars, EVE Online, Anarchy Online, you name it)  where having a surname is mandatory. Not only does it effectively double the unique-ness of your avatar name but it allows for an exponentially greater number of names than currently. And a surname isn’t just for roleplayers either. Although there are addons for RP purposes such as flagRSP, which add a description to boot, these don’t really expand the range of variety when choosing a character name.

My main reasoning in giving surnames to players would be pretty simple: The game has been running for 5+ years with 5 million+ EU+US subscriptions and Heavens know how many millions of characters created all of which had to be uniquely named… there comes a point where we simply run out of unique, meaningful names.

My secondary reasoning follows directly – going by Blizzard’s own extensive naming policy and Support article, quote:

The bottom line is that we want World of Warcraft to be a fun and safe environment for all players. World of Warcraft is an MMORPG, and the key words are “Massively Multiplayer.” In playing this game, you will encounter thousands of other players who share different experiences and come from vastly different backgrounds. While a certain name may not be offensive to you, consider the fact that that same name may have a completely different effect on someone else.

one could be pretty damn hard pressed to find a name that is both unique, appealing to you, totally appropriate and unbeknownst to you, doesn’t contain some hidden cultural, national, scientific etc. meaning that people will read into it when they first see you in party or chat window.
although creative people will never have too much trouble with kuming up (ha ha-bad pun) with something (look no further than Tamarind and her masterfully named troll shaman 😉 ) But aside from purposely drawing on RL references, your name will always be at risk of sounding just like something else, something random that you never knew about but which exists in the world, just waiting for people to confuse it/associate with. For example, I lost count of how many times I’ve been asked in-game if I play hockey IRL. Huh? Yet no explanation was ever given, why? It wasn’t until the N-th time that I learned of Mats Sundin who was a swedish hockey player and since he’s been retired for some time, I guess SWE people just assumed that he just shuffled some characters around in his name and went by the name of Sudiin to play a gnome warrior in WoW in his free time, I dunno.

This isn’t a one-in-a-million coincidence, but perhaps could be avoided if I could properly name my gnome Sudiin Crimsonstone which is his surname in that hazy RP background I thought up for him.

Anyway, there were many was some discussion about this topic (and it has been brought up in another blog.. back in 2007) on the official forums and the answer was never a plain negative, so until Blizzard specifically states No (which they virtually never do, they always leave a door open) there is still some hope that this feature will make it into the next expansion or the one after that.


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