ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What's in a Name? A Discussion on Naming Your Video Game Character

Updated on January 29, 2014

Choosing a name in a video game is one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make in the entire game. At least, for some games. Mass Effect could care less what your first name is; everyone is bound and determined to maintain a professional distance from your character and insists on calling you “Shepard.” They probably don’t even know your first name, even though you diligently typed it in at the start of the game. But for those games where the other characters call you by the name you’ve chosen, picking the perfect combination of letters can be a grueling, game-altering process.

Everyone else in the game has two names:  first and last.  Not this guy.
Everyone else in the game has two names: first and last. Not this guy.

Mom, my Son

One of the easiest ways to choose a name for your character is to use the one your mom gave you. This choice can be both awesome and terrifying. It’s great when you’re the hero and you’re doing everything right, but when you’re being accused of wrong-doing, your name becomes an accusation. “You” are doing it wrong—not the character in the game, “you” personally, they seem to say. Using your own name in a video game can create a unique closeness to the game because the character is you, whether you want it to be or not. I think that’s why I prefer to have several designated video game names: names I only go by when I’m playing a game.

I also readily admit that using your own name can sometimes have fantastic results: like when my mom was naming all her characters “Mom.” She’d started doing this when I was little because I used to watch her play games and like the infamous “Shepard,” to me my mom was “Mom;” she had no first name. Enter the Sega Genesis game, Sword of Vermillion, in which you start as a young boy living in a rural village. Your father is lying on his deathbed giving a speech about how you must go out and save the world. He begins this speech with your inputted name: “Mom, my son…”

I have never been able to watch this poor man’s final speech with a straight face to this day.

The Defaulter

This name-choosing trick is, well, tricky, because not all games let you do this. Basically, when that dreaded screen pops up with the blank squares over the top of the alphabet, the game is nice enough to give you a “freebie.” A pre-selected name for your character appears which you are free to choose or disregard, depending on your inclination. Again, not all games do this, and sometimes they don’t even do it well. Disgaea’s random name generator sometimes spits out a series of letters lacking any vowels, resulting in some unintelligible piece of gibberish like “Xltpf” or “Grrbl.”

Then there are the games which have a clear default name picked out for the character which never appears on the name-that-package-of-pixels screen. The most notable example of this comes from The Legend of Zelda series. We all know that kid with the weird nose, pointy sword, and green cap is named “Link.” Yet to my knowledge, no Zelda game has yet to acknowledge this. Every Zelda game I’ve ever played has forced me to manually type in L-i-n-k before allowing me to proceed. So how do we know his name is Link?

That one's named Link, and that one, and that one...
That one's named Link, and that one, and that one...

Nintendo told us so, that’s how.

Hardcore Naming

So if your name isn’t good enough, or the default name is some sort gibberish, or if there’s just a blank screen staring at you with that harsh, judging blue light (because naming screens are almost always blue), what’s left? Come up with your own! Maybe it’s the name you wished your mom gave you, or the nickname your friends gave you at school. Heck, it could be the nickname you gave yourself. Steal the name of your favorite character in a TV show or a book, they won’t mind. Pick one name, have a set of them, make up a new one every time—it doesn’t matter! As long as you’re having fun, who cares if your character is named “Mr. Fluffernutter?”

The name is all part of your experience of the game. So long as the name matches the experience you want to have, it’ll always fit.

So What's Your Naming Style?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)