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Aka Ironyca Stood in the Fire – gaming blog

For the Love of Names – Gender-bending pt. 9

The Gender-bending series is based on the result of my own little survey, attempting to map all the motivations of WoW-players playing a character of the opposite gender. Each part deals with a certain aspect of gender-bending in games.

Part 1: Advertizing the survey
Part 2: Throwing myself to the lions….I mean trolls!
Part 3: The Spectacle of Play and Characters
Part 4: Avoiding Clones
Part 5: To Wear or to Not Wear Robes
Part 6: Bring the Player, not the Gender
Part 7: Uniqueness and the Trademark of the Female Dwarf
part 8: In Game Advantages
Part 9: For the Love of Names
Part 10: Summing it Up

This was a motivation I didn’t anticipate. Nor did Kathryn Wright, my primary inspiration, mention this. This was therefore not included as a specific option available to players in my survey. Thanks to the open comments, it became evident that also names can play an important role in the character creation process. Ultimately, I don’t know how common this is, only a few players mentioned this, so probably only marginally. I thought it was worth mentioning anyhow.

Names are unique in WoW and the same name can not be taken by different characters, unless they spell it differently.  This also means that names can be very central to players, especially if they have a connection to a certain one:

I wanted a male belf mage with a particular name to match a character from a manga that I like.

The forum of my server has had quite a few people asking whether they could have a specific name they cared greatly about. Via the armory, they can see it belongs to a (sometimes inactive) low level character, and they’re hoping that this player will hand the name over. Don’t ask me how, but sometimes they actually get it.

Great Name or Real Shame

Charlotte Hagström writes in “Playing with Names: Naming and Gaming in World of Warcraft” (2008) that the names players choose in WoW is a main identifier, and more important than the appearance when distinguishing players. The names of characters are evaluated and judged by other players, and especially a lack of creativity and understanding of the cultural coding of WoW is a negative, and can even hinder further contact and friendships between players. Names that are perceived to be effortless and thus bad, are, even despite their cultural similarity, names too closely inspired by f. ex. “The Lord of the Rings”. An example mentioned by Hagström is the name “Lehgolaz”.

…Slimeball, if you are reading this, I’m sorry, but I hate your name. I remember you from Alterac Valley weekends, you’re a dwarf hunter and I’m sure your pet has a stupid name as well, like …”Bear”. You were definately not from my server, perhaps Chrushridge or Burning Legion? …anyways, it doesn’t matter, your name still sucks. I even mentioned your name to others in WoW, and I said I was sure that you were also a bad player, probably had your pet on aggressive in heroics, gemmed for spirit, and had never been able to get into a raid – surely not with that name.

….Superpwner, if you’re also reading this, I dislike you as well. You, contrary to Slimeball, did play on a roleplay server – you played on mine. We never spoke to each other, I just saw you around when I was leveling Ironyca. Your name was so stupid, that I put you on my friendslist, just so I could follow your whereabouts …and see if you got to keep your name. You didn’t, I didn’t report you, but someone did, ’cause one day “Jear” was on my list instead, and that was you. I like Jear much better, my respect for you went up a little, although I’m sure you can really thank the designated gamemaster for that, who probably force-named you. If you had to rename yourself, I’m sure you would have gone with “Belfrouge”, isn’t that true Superpwner?

I’m sorry Slimeball and Superpwner, but I can’t help it, I judge people by their names, and I judge you.

If a player does abides to these cultural naming rules of WoW, it’s adjacent to gender-bend, when the favored name is more befitting of the opposite gender:

Also, as I like to use appropriate names, i frequently take them from Fantasy Books, and sometimes females names work better, or are available on my realm

Also as the quote suggests, sometimes the best names are taken, and alternatives are narrowed down.

Both the written and unwritten rules of naming in WoW have to abide by the earlier mentioned facet of being unique, which also works as a specific motivator for players to gender-bend, and naming can be said to be related to this pattern of individuality.

We’re at the end of the series – almost. Part 10 will be a sum up, showing the overall graph and some additional information, but it will not contain any new results. Thanks for reading so far.

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2011 by in Opinion and Discussion and tagged , , , , .

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