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Jess Lebow asks, What's in a name?

Brooke Pilley

What's in a name? That's an interesting question. For some players, there's obviously not much in a name. For instance, how many VanHellsings, Grandalfs, or RougeKillas have you come across in your MMO travels? We're not quite sure if these people are trying to be clever, innocently paying homage to their favourite pop culture references, or simply don't care what others think.

For others, a lot of thought goes into a name. These players want to have unique, meaningful, and/or perhaps a wee bit pretentious names for their avatar. Maybe there's even a back story for how they got their name.

One thing is certain; developers usually put lots of thought into naming various cities, locations, and NPCs in their MMO worlds. Why? Jess Lebow, MMO storyteller for over a decade, believes players are smart and pay attention to detail. He also knows they're easily annoyed by things like too many consonants with too few vowels or oddly punctuated names. When naming one of the first cities in Guild Wars, he used a feature-based naming generation system that came up with Lagbourough for the city by a lake. This resulted in a few chuckles from testers and not-so-pleased programmers. That city name changed five times before releasing as Lion's Arch.

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