Amongst my many other pastimes (writing, watching movies and consuming soft cheeses, just to name a few), I also enjoy some online gaming every once and a while. While most of it tends to be via my PC, I've been spending some quality time with Battlefield 1943 on my XBOX 360 of late. The game's a lot of fun, but that's not what I want to talk about. Rather, I'd like to discuss online player names (or "gamertags" as they're called on XBOX Live), and just how annoying most of them are.
One significant draw to adopting any kind of online presence is the ability to adopt a name or persona that's markedly different from the one you possess in real life. It's an option that I, myself, have been known to take advantage of (this may come as a shock to you, but 'Isangeles' is not my real name). For some of us, choosing our new name comes down to just having a simple online handle that's easy to remember and drawn from some other aspect of our lives. For instance, on the XBOX, I go by the gamertag RS Feva (feel free to look me up). Where did I get that? It's the kind of racing dinghy that I sail. In the past, during a time when I was a high-school and youth football official, I used Zebra.
Many other gamers, though, seem to feel the need to garner as much attention as possible via their online identity through original, entertaining or unusual names. The problem is, the truly original naming ideas out there are quite scarce. As a result, most of these folks simply join a long list of similar names that offer nothing new and end up making them look foolish. Now don't get me wrong, if they want to do it, they are free to do so -- it's their name, after all -- but I think the online gaming world would be a better place if these gamers tried to work at their names a little harder and, at the very least, minimized the number of gamertags that fall into one (or more) of the following categories:
Look at me, my [shift] key works!
ThIs OnE iS pRoBaBlY tHe MoSt AnNoYiNg. By MaKiNg EvErY OtHeR lEtTeR a CaPiTaL aLl YoU aCcOmPlIsH iS mAkInG yOuR nAmE hArD tO rEaD. (OK, I have to stop that...) And, seriously, probably a good 1/3 of all online names use this trick to some extent, so it's about as far from being original or different as you can get. JuSt StOp It!
Who needs letters?
Next up are those who substitute numbers for letters like in S4v4ge H8t3r (that's Savage Hater, if you couldn't figure it out). In the end, names like these just end up looking like weird, long license plates and pack about as much entertainment value as typing 01134 into a calculator and holding it upside down so it says 'hello.' (or typing in 31041134 and holding it upside down to express my feelings about Mrs. Burnside's trigonometry class .)
I'M A BADASS (with a playful side)
Gamer: Hey! You know what would be cool? Pick a name whose first part sounds really mean or evil and then follow it up with something cute!
Me: Yeah! Except there are already gazillions of people who do it and its been run into the frakking ground!
Seriously, I'm deducting at least two dozen respect points if you charge around the battlefield sporting a name like Emperor Kitty, and even more if you begin your name with Darth. The other night I found myself sniping at an opposing player named Darth Tik Tak. What the heck does that name say about its owner? That he or she's a dastardly breath mint that can't spell? Which brings me to...
Sigh. It is no longer hip, cool, gnarly, whatever to spell 'dog' like 'dawg' or 'boys' like 'boyz' or substitute 'ph' for an 'f' -- and for heavens' sake, adding a long string of identical consonants at the end of your moniker only elicits mockery - trust me on that. My favorite recent example of all this: UpGrAyDdD (extra point deductions for all of the [shift] key abuse, too!)
Aren't I SHOCKING?
Finally, you have the gamers who want to make their fellows gasp at the very audacity of their chosen names. I expect most of these are nose-picking pre/early teens who hide in their basement rooms and whose hearts race at the sound of descending footsteps for fear ma or pa discover they game under the name BEAST666! (cause that's, ya know, like the devil and he's bad and stuff), or Cow Dung (cause that's, ya know, like poop and stuff), or Wet Diaper and Inseminator (cause they're, ya know, like ewwwwwwww and stuff).
Am I tilting against windmills here? Oh sure, and I know it. Still if only one person changes their gamertag because of this post, it will have been worth the writing.