I realize that the notion of a good and bad name for a character in WoW is completely subjective. So this will of course be based on my idea of what a good and bad name would be. Actually since I'm such a lovely person I thought I'd keep it with the good names. The bad names are usually so lame they don't deserve any kind of recognition at all. But then again.. bashing is so much fun.
The Good Names
I've tried to write this post since January or something, but it's been extremely difficult to find names where I go "woah, that was a really cool name". I usually just think "wow that was a masterpiece of bad imagination" or don't think so much at all. The good names are good because they don't bother you. Maybe the first place to look for my opinion on good names are the names of my own chars. The idea I use is quite simple - I choose names that mean something that few people actually know of. So "Chair" would be a name that means something everybody (who speaks english) knows. I don't really want to be that obvious, but I don't like inventing names either. I'm just no good at it. I don't feel you need to get a name that suits your char either, so that if it's a troll it has to have a "troll sounding" name or anything.
The best thing about choosing names that already exist (but that no one knows of) are that they already sound cool. Or well, at least I think so. Let's look at some examples;
- My warrior is named Vorax, which is short for Voracious.
- One of my druids is named Xbalanque, which is one of the twins of a maya myth.
- Two of my shamans are named Xipetotec, after aztec mythology.
- My dk is named Yggr, which is short for Yggdrasil (I didn't like Yggdr though, a little too many consonants in a row) from Norse Mythology
There are other ways to have meaning to your name without it being too obvious of course. My mage is named Genomond for example, which is swedish for "Pure Evil". It's not so much for the cool factor (but it's damn cool though), but it makes a good name since it sounds like something english and means something in another language at the same time. The same can be done with any language of course. I have done this language-cross-over-naming to many of my chars. I had a shaman named Donner for example, which is german for "thunder". One of my paladins is named "Rache" after the german word for "vengeance". Love had/has (can't remember which) a warlock named Jetetuf which closely resembles the meaning of "Really Cool" in swedish. Some words sound nice backwards too, which is yet another way to use this "trick". Some work better than others of course. Kcirt isn't a bad name at all, Ecnaegnev on the other hand...
In my hunt for interesting names I did come across some however, so let's look at these.
I just simply love it when people take a pop reference and turn it into something completely else in a smart way so that it is a mix of real life and game life. I found a guy named Orcybalboa in a pug and I instantly fell for it. Another example is Johnkeykong. It's smart, it's cool and it's funny.
Warlocks often try to find a name that will somehow do this mix of real life and game life, by trying to get their dotting game style into their name. I've heard tons of different names in this fashion, but one I found and really liked was Dottyparton. Especially funny if you're an undead. Dotty part on... get it? *chuckle* Ok moving on.
Respelling words is a name choice that can be just right or horribly, horribly wrong. Just think of the most recent death knight you grouped with for what probably is a good example of the latter. Dewyl is one example I did like however.
And then we have the witty language-dependant names. They could work splendid for one group of people, and not so good for another. I know I think finnish names look freaky for example. Hakkapellitta or whatever they might be called (and no I don't speak a word finnish), it's just too many double-k's, double-a's and double-anythings to look nice. But that is simply because I don't speak finnish! I am sure every languages have their antagonist counterpart to which it just doesn't sound or look good. Therefore, try to get names that at least sound somewhat neutral (i.e english, random in game language) when going for these kinds of names. Here are two swedish names which I found hilarious, although I'm not so sure as to their internationalibility - Kajkavaj (the swedish name Kaj and the swedish word for "jacket" kavaj) and Raketlennart (the swedish word for "rocket" Raket and the swedish name Lennart, form of Leonard). In all honesty they suck, but yet they're quite funny. All in all I kinda love them for their suckiness.
And finally, the straightforward names. No hidden meaning, no respelling of words, just pure great. These names are extremely hard to get right since they're only funny if the word (or name) chosen is a good one. And whether someone will find it good or not is impossible to say. But some words are surer picks than others. I did find one guy who gave me a good example of this kind of name - Infidel. Infidel is short and simple, and a really funny word. Probably because of that "I KILL YOU!" puppet everyone knows of. It gave me an idea for another name I'd really love - Simpleton. I find it totally hilarious everytime Ley-Guardian Eregos shouts "SIMPLETONS!" just after you kill Mage-Lord Urom. I don't know why, simpleton is just one of those funny words.
I don't know any of the people I've given example of here in person, I've just pugged with them once and we never met again. I hope they don't mind me making an example of them (although it is a good example!). Although a char name doesn't even belong to the creator, but to Blizzard...
The Bad Names
Ok I lied, I have to say something about the bad names. There are generally two groupes of names which I don't like, just because I feel that whoever owns the char hasn't even tried to give his char a proper name and that such a lack of interest and imagination has to hide a really annoying person.
The first really big no-no is to use letters and accents all over the name to make it look like one thing, without any regard to the fact that all these accents and letters actually -change- the way the name is pronounced. This means whoever has spelled his name Déäthkñìght has no understanding whatsoever for any other language than his own, and that makes him a stupid person in my eyes. Accents don't change pronunciation that much, they just look silly. Like "this is the only name I can come up with but it was already taken so I put this accent over one letter to be able to use it". Letters like å, ä and ö however, and a bunch of other letters I can't produce here without too much hassle, don't sound -anything- like the letter people think they resemble (which is why I pronounce Motörhead as Motoerhead, because an ö isn't pronounced like an o no matter how much they like). Westerners make fun of asians that can't tell the difference between r's and l's and then they go do the same mistake, albeit instead in a textual context. People using letters they don't know the pronounciation of look like "engrishers" to everyone who do, making their names when pronounced sound like someone trying to eat his own ear.
The second big no-no are the "sentence-names" and also "leetspeak-names". Such as Ipwnu or even Iownyou. Your char isn't supposed to be your personal billboard shouting out the simple-minded thought you had at its creation. It's actually a rather lousy way to advertise yourself, and you're stuck with it forever or until you pay (real money) to change it. Everytime someone looks at your char they'll instantly know you don't know the difference between a chat window and the name creation window.
Finally I'd like to mention an anecdote I came across while hunting for names. At one time Love told me he was partied with a guy named Alighieri and I thought "cool, someone who's a little cultivated". Love asked the guy why he had chosen such a name or something in the lines and the guy answers "It's cool, it's from Ali G". So... yeah.
And also I'd like to give a special hommage to a friend of mine who happens to have the extremely rare spirit wolf pet from Dustwallow Marsh on his hunter. I love that pet and as it isn't obtainable anymore I completely envy him for having it. He has however decided to name it AIRWOLF, in caps. Let me just say that that can stand as another good example of how not to name something ;)