Why What You Name Your Character is Important

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Funny or immersion breaking?

He was strong of limb: the son of generations of seasoned warriors.  Fair was his face: one of the last true heirs of the bloodline of Eorl the Young.  His shield was strong, his blade swift.  The word of his deeds spread far and wide.  Foes fled at the very mention of his name: Bananahammock.

Let me preface the following by saying that I am the last person to be a stick in the mud about lore-friendly names.  Not everyone has the time (or even the desire) to research proper elven names for a character they might delete a week later.  And as far as I’m concerned, as long as it doesn’t read like a root canal, name your character whatever you desire.  But please, don’t break the immersion of the game.

Questing in the lonely, ice-bound region of Forochel always instills in me a sense of awe: the aurora borealis every night, the herds of mammoths wandering in the wilds, the warm, crackling fires of the Lossoth, and a guy with the name of Rocketpants?  I can’t help but laugh, but at the same time I’ve got to scratch my head.  Assuming you like the game enough to stick with it until Forochel, why would you stay with a character that has such an absurd name?  Doesn’t it somewhat break the experience, especially when doing the epic quest lines?

Friends tell me to chill out, and why worry?  Those characters aren’t mine, so why should I care about what they’re named?  I’m inclined to agree, most of the time.  But when I see someone acting like a snarky good-for-nothing in Trade chat, it elicits much the same reaction from me.  What you name your character and how you act through that avatar all contribute to LOTRO’s community.  The joke-named characters are fairly amusing at first, but when you stumble into a knot of them in the Bree auction house, you start to forget that you’re playing LOTRO at all.  The world and lore that Tolkien created has a very distinct feel to it, and standing next to someone with the word ‘vampire’ in their name fragments that a bit.

This name was a breach of TOS

It’s all a matter of perspective, and the way I see it is that LOTRO could only stand to gain a boost in community interaction when players try to go as native to the game as possible.  Even the high-level armor is both within reason and attractively designed; it does not break the feel of the game.  Because, I don’t know about you, but I rather enjoy participating in immersive gameplay and not having to suffer from the cartoonish graphics of WoW and the free-for-all style of lore that seems to come with it.  So why don’t we add to LOTRO’s immersion even more by naming our characters things that sound at least a little bit native to Middle Earth?

It would be a win-win for everyone, and the reputation you establish for yourself under your character’s name will not be attached to something that was a one-time laugh but might now serve as only a source of embarrassment.

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11 Comments

  1. I named my warden Forgotmygambits. It has been good for a laugh at times, and she is now level 75 (almost 76!). I still laugh about her name, and some other people do too. Then there are others who don’t like it so much. I don’t really care either way. She’s a BA warden. Laugh at my name, I will shove my spear up many of your orifices until you quit laughing. Most of my other characters have names that are more Middle-earth appropriate, but I just needed 1 character with a fun name.

    • Haha, the name of your warden is great! And everyone is quite entitled to their opinions on the game; this article was mostly written after many late night excursions on LOTRO.

      (But I won’t lie, if I was in a fellow with your warden I’d have heart palpitations for a few seconds before I realized your name was a joke, haha!)

  2. I have others’ names turned off. I learned that during the rift. I go through towns and countryside without knowing what their names are and without knowing how stupid they are. Happiness!

    Also, someone’s going to have to say your name in a raid. “Motorcyclejesus” is not likely to be confused with “Motorcyclecheezes” very often, so there’s half a point there.

    Also, you’re going to be called by the first three letters of your name. So maybe avoid Tithalia or Braeli, too.

    It stopped feeling like being immersed in Tolkien’s amazing world sometime early in 2008. Since then it’s just been a 3D chat room with crafting.

    • It’s always funny when the short version of your character’s name can be confused for something else. The short name of my hunter is identical with one of the NPC’s names in Eregion, and it’s doubly amusing because my hunter is an elf and the NPC is a dwarf.

  3. I have to share the thoughts with Laura, As a big fan of Tolkien’s work its hard for me when I get a tell from “Sexyhot babe” to see if I will fellowship and on top of that it’s a dude! it can really break immersion. I usually laugh at first and then I think well some Orc somewhere will be squeezing the life out of “sexyhot babe” so I guess its a little sweet justice. Honestly, I could really care less about names, I prefer to play by the Lore but Like Kaelin said, I run around with the names shut off unless I need to find someone! Heck what do I know any way? I’m just a Horse breeder from Rohan named Retten Creel… Look me up if your on Brandywine! Thanks for the article!

    • Thanks for the feedback! And running around with the names off is definitely an option! But, speaking only for myself, I am one of the most directionally-challenged people out there. So if there are a knot of NPCs in Moria all with quest rings above their heads, I need to leave names on so I know who to look for.

  4. I agree with this post.

    There have been times I’ve had characters with absurd names, and as the article mentions: I have also spent hours trying to find a good unclaimed name on the server I play on (Gladden).

    I never used to mind odd names until I ran into someone named ‘Buttpee.’ Since then I have stuck with more traditional names now, haha.

  5. I have several alts on Windfola, all but one have “appropriate” names.

    One morning I woke up and decided I must have a hobbit guardian name Porkchopp McHampants. I don’t know why but there it is.

  6. I put quite a bit of effort into my character names. There are some able Internet resources to help (and a few which, now gone, with foresight I saved).

    * Gloimli – To human ears a lot like Gimli, but the phonetics of Khuzdul makes this as different as ‘sad’ and ‘slade’.
    * Beagol – Very Hobbitish, similar to Deagol, Smeagol, et al. Member of the Buck clan, along with Beggo and others.
    * Calenbor – “Green Hand”, a play on words and slight self-deprecation for a Ranger-friend.

  7. Ahh the silly names brigade ! I must agree this is something that does break immersion and it gets my goat! Ok some intelligent funny names are ok but some/most are downright annoying but what can we do? nothing sad as it is we must try and glance over them and hope they don’t stick in your head!

  8. Should I apologize for naming my first character Twitcheetwitch? Probably. :D

    I guess that’s my only real “joke” name for any of my characters, but for some reason he looked “twitchy” when I was on the character creation screen, so that’s the name he ended up with. He’s 85, and I’m not changing it now!

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