The Daily Grind: Should MMOs have enforced naming standards?

For some players, “enter a name for your character” might as well read “insert the best joke you can within the character limit.” As a younger soul, this bothered me, because I’m pretty sure no one in Tyria would name their children “Valkilmer Sucks” or “Chowder Head,” but I would still have to see that in Guild Wars. I wanted strict naming enforcement, darn it!

Now that I’m older, I think younger me is a well-intentioned nincompoop. I have characters with names who do not adhere to strict naming conventions, and while those characters each have elaborate lore explanations for why they’ve got odd names, it doesn’t change the fact I would need to rename at least a couple of my Final Fantasy XIV characters. And that’s ignoring that some of my favorite names on that game include characters like “Carfullof Whiteboys,” “Viewing Catscene,” and my personal favorite, “Combyo Beard.”

Of course, some companies don’t care too much about providing name standards in the first place, so while “Samlikesham” doesn’t look like a traditional Night Elf name I can’t really say it isn’t. What do you think, readers? Should MMOs have enforced naming standards?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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88 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Should MMOs have enforced naming standards?"

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Tia Nadiezja

We can talk about strict naming policies after we eliminate server-wide name uniqueness in favor of name@handle identifiers. After my fifth name idea gets “This name not available”-d, I’m likely to just spam the Random button until something vaguely acceptable to me gets me logged in.

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Chosenxeno .

What’s so immersion breaking about a female Tauren named Bob?

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Jesse Schulkers

Under one condition. Names are account bound not server bound. I.E. You use a special ID (Ex- Xiik#3491) as your account name. Then all character names can be whatever you want.

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Khalith .

I’m all for strict naming standards on RP servers only. Although obviously racial or homophobic slurs needs to be against the rules on all servers.

kieranbunny
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kieranbunny

wheeee! naming policy?…as long as dey allow me variations on Bunny me will be happy!
==(:*D

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Vunak

I would rejoice so god damn hard if MMOs enforced a naming policy, holy hell.

Just don’t go scorched earth on it like BDO did on trading. Yes certain names are a problem, but not all names. Yes certain trades are a problem, but not all trades.

kieranbunny
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kieranbunny

remember when me got in trouble roleplayin a wabbit in BDO..LMAO!! ==(:*D

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Cate Mehlos

Yes. Absolutely. Listen, people can say “Only on RP servers” all they want, but the genre is literally MMO”RP”G. Literally. I understand that not everyone wants to actively roleplay, but don’t ruin the experience for everyone around you because you are too lazy to find a name generator on the internet (there is a site for almost every race from every series and genre, I use it a lot), or use a built in one for games that have it. I spend a long time considering names for my characters, and if they’re taken, I find a different one. I will spend actual hours considering names. Laugh at me all you want, but no one begrudges me when my character walks past.

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Melissa McDonald

I think so, yes. It’s just really hard to manage and monitor.

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draugris

Yes Yes and one more time Yes, i am so sick of all the xxxDarkNinjaxxx, IpwnU, UrMum characters and i am also sick of all the Ganddalf, Aracorn and Legolasz. At least on RP Servers there should some enforcement on Names to fit the setting of the corresponding MMO´s lore.

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Bob Satori

I am always on the side of player freedom and empowerment. So my solution would be to allow all things that the technology can muster, but also allow other players to assign masks for player characters they find immersion-breaking, ugly, or otherwise distracting. First, and most simply in the case of names, target the character and select “assign mask>name” from the popup menu, then type a new name into the box. Thereafter, you will see the mask and when typing the name it will default to sending the player’s original name (additional steps might be needed to handle name duplications, of course). Further, there would be a “assign mask>appearance” which pulls up the appearance editor to allow assignment of a locally stored alternative visage and/or costume.

Such a system could be elaborated upon in as many ways as players are allowed to modify their own presentation.

This approach serves anyone out there, from those annoyed by immersion breakers to those doing it for the lulz. And anyone who doesn’t see it as worth their time can ignore it and accept the virtual world unfliltered. A global toggle for the masks would do if anyone still wants to take screenshots or video of the world as it really is on occasion.

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Ailsa Nordstrom

It would be nice if I didn’t have to see xXNAMEXx in fantasy mmorpgs.

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silverlock

As someone who routinely has to spend 20 to 40 (yes for real I have to feel the name) minutes naming a character because I keep getting name not available I’d have to say no. Just deal with the chuckleheads after the fact.

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Chestnut Bowl

Only RP servers should have forced (and enforced) naming standards. Personally, I look for and keep to the naming conventions of the chosen race in any RPG I play.

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Maggie May

Yes, extremely boring pretentious overly serious names should be banned. As well as the obvious ones that are offensive, British humour aside … Use some imagination people!
There’s clever funny and just bad. Puns yea we need more use of puns !

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Duane Does not check email

Seymour Butts…. I want to see Seymour Butts….

Solaris
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Solaris

IMO yes, at least on RP servers.

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Grave Knight

Only on roleplay servers.

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Little Bugbear

As long as it’s not offensive, I say have fun with it.

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Cinaminson

I really only have a problem with names that are derogatory, insulting, or things of that nature. Otherwise, while I would probably never name my own characters a joke name I do enjoy seeing clever joke names other people come up with. And yeah, even on RP servers.

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NeoWolf

Names in game is a point of great relevance and annoyance to me. I HATE comedy or nonsense names with a passion they irk me, greatly. Thats right I said IRK! and bad names are utterly immersion breaking and I will report EVERY single one I see on an RP server if they are offensive etc.. withot fail, every time.

But then I ONLY play on RP servers and in my opinion if you cannot, or will not name your character appropriately on an RP server then GTFO as your not in the right place.

So my stance would be on RP servers 100% yes, on any other server..nope, noone cares.

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Stormwaltz

So long as names are not offensive, I don’t care.

Characters with dumb but inoffensive names are just self-sorting into my /ignore list.

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Randy Ward

Yes, names should fit the genre. If the game has a lot of tongue in cheek references like WoW, then maybe there can be some wackiness. If the game is more like LOTRO, then a more serious tone should be set.

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Jadefox

The real question is how.

Most game have a filter that prevents some offensive words. We all know though, how easy it is to get around filters.
Example: If I name a Twi’lek in SWtOR Bloodbath. Is that appropriate? Who decides if it is or isn’t. What about L33t. Does the studio have to hire a person to be the name police? We all know how much mmo player moan and cry about studios not fixing bug and adding content fast enough. I can see the outcry now about wasting resources.

What about forcing players to use a built in name generator. Yeah that would go over real well.

Problem is, that there is no realistic way to enforce naming standards.

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NeoWolf

The I.P ios what determines how as the I.P is the thing that provides standards and examples of appropriate names for characters and species etc.. Is Bloodbath an appropriate name for Star Wars…and for a twi’lek the answer is no and yes. There are MANY examples of rylothian names throughout the I.P it isn’t hard to look them up and get the gist enough to name a character something along similar lines. Bloodbath however although a terrible Twi’lek name could be a nickname in which case then it could be approriate.

If I saw that name I wouldn’t have an issue with it.. now if your character was called “BlueChick” or “TentacleFace” then bam! report sent pending name change about to descend on you lol

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Evan Schultheis

SWTOR has a ton of issues with its naming system. You couldn’t name your toon “Bloodbath” if you wanted to because it got taken 5 years ago and hasn’t been purged.

That being said there are other issues regarding IP’s as well. Many Star Wars names are automatically blocked or you get reported for having them because it’s against the EULA to use a recognizable name like “Bastila” or what have you even if it’s not supposed to be Bastila Shan per say.

As for enforcing it on players, again the issue is more the system than actually doing it. People are going to be using the same names – I use extremely uncommon names (an old Greek name, Eudoxia, and Latin, Aetius, which don’t exist in modern times) and on every server but one it was taken. I got priority with the merges because I played far more and subscribed, so I got lucky with my names. But any naming system is going to have to account for the fact people want and are going to use similar or the same names.

Star Trek Online does it right, where you have a universal account handle and then your character names aren’t unique, really. Two people can be named “Bastila Shan” but only one can be @BastilaShan handle (just using that as my example… also I did steal that in Star Trek Online, ha ha.) Then the issue is a matter of eliminating the trash names.

I don’t mind joke names, like “Defense Turret” for example in SWTOR (to confuse Starfighter Pilots), the annoying ones to me (as a non-roleplayer) are things like “Donald_Trump_Sucks” or “xXIdidyourmom69Xx” or you get the idea.

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NeoWolf

SWTOR not allowing surnames and forcing a legacy name on ALL characters was a dumb idea, they had a heavy handed filter too agreed so I doubt anyone is going to argue that SWTOR had naming issues.

They could have avoided issues with anyone wanting to be a luke or bastila by having surnames..but nope that was just TOO sensible for them lol.

That said I’m not really sure how your point here (which I agree with I might add) is relevant to the point I was making in which you replied?

I was speaking about how an I.P determines what is an acceptable name i.e the star ars films, books, games, comics etc.. all provided a gajillion examples of various species names etc.. for species and so forth. People shouldn’t really have a tough time thinking up a name that “feels like it fits with the universe”.

Of course on an RP server it matters, or should to anyone who is legitemately on the right server. To anyone else on any other server type it probably doesn’t matter as much as immersion isn’t necessarily what they are looking for so the name isn’t really a factor.

But for my preference when it comes to RP servers there should 100% be enforced naming standards and they don’t need to be heavy handed they just need to be nothing nonses, or offensive and try to make sure it fits the I.P.

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Evan Schultheis

I’m not sure what you mean when you say that legacy name and surname is different. I mean if you consider legacy name like an account handle it doesn’t work the same but I see what you mean in that case.

That being said, yeah I was kind of trying to agree about how IP’s affect naming. SWTOR is pretty heavy handed in preventing people from calling their toons even common real world names (Mara, for example).

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Bryan Correll

If it’s a designated role playing server, yes, Otherwise no. When playing FF14 I got a chuckle every single time I saw a guy named “Manbe Arpig.” I’d hate for the world to lose that.

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Arktouros

No.

If for no other reason than why these things are rarely enforced and that’s simply that it would take up too much of the support staff’s time to deal with this kind of issue. I’d rather a game’s support staff work on critical and actual issues than forcing someone’s viewpoints and standards on someone else.

However the primary reason is that things like this are always invariably used to grief other players. It’s very easy to come up with a convincing lie about how such and such name is offensive.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

I think Bit said it best, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

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Bryan Turner

I briefly had an Undead Mage named Burnysanders that I ran around the starting area asking for small campaign donations while conjuring food and drink from no where to prove my abilities to singlehandedly take down the Billionaires and offer up extensive socialist programs to help the Working Class.

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Stropp

Was he a fire mage?

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Makhiel

On one hand it would be nice if it were an unspoken rule everyone follows. On the other I don’t think enforcing something like that would work well.

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Robert Mann

Depends on the game, the server, and even the standards.

Simply put, there is a problem. At the same time, unless it is in my face I could care less. Beyond that, it’s a useful problem (I would never stick around a group with foulname mcnasty after all!)

I do think there should be options for selecting such a place, which was originally part of the idea of RP servers… but that seems abandoned. Let it come back that way, enforce it strictly, and leave other servers for games with the very odd and/or trolly names.

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pharfig

And now I’m totally looking for a place to make a character named Foulname McNasty…

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Robert Mann

LOL

Nick
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Nick

I vote yes within limits. Every MMO should at least not let people use expletives or offensive names. On non-RP servers I don’t really care if people have dumb names but RP servers should have policies in addition.

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jay

While this would be great in an idealistic setting, in the real world it wouldn’t work. Enforcing name conventions on RP servers requires extra GM time on those servers, giving them more CSR preference over non-RP servers, yet all customers pay the same.

Unless they had an additional monthly fee for RP servers, this just wouldn’t work. There’s been a few MMO’s that had RP servers with name rules, but rarely were those rules enforced in reality.

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Robert Mann

Enforced policies. They already have policies, in most cases.

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Castagere Shaikura

Yeah its funny but when i see someone with a stupid or off color name they go on my ignore list.

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rafael12104

So, no. Nope. Niet. Basta!

I understand. I do. For those who RP and even for those who just want to immerse themselves in an IP world, it is tragic to play beside some dude named “Copyright” or “Insert_Name_Here.” But, that is a small price to pay, to play an MMO/MMORPG freely.

What I love about these games is that the great ones allow players the freedom to play the way they want. Serious or light hearted, combat or crafter, cool or ridiculous, it takes all types, because these games are massive worlds. And, personally, I don’t want some entity to tell me how I have to play short of game breaking exploits or toxic shenanigans.

So, choose an RP server where this type of thing is less likely. Choose to play with players that are like minded when it comes to names, lore, and aesthetics. Choose to play the game as seriously as you like.

Let it be your choice, but don’t take away mine. The second you dictate simple things like names, that’s when a game is less massive, more private, and closer to a single player game with online options.

Hey, if that is what you want? Cool. Find one of those. But don’t tell me how to play, who to play with and why.

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Robert Mann

Problem is that it hasn’t been enforced on RP servers, and is just as likely there. Outside that, I agree… but until devs bring some enforcement to the RP servers it’s a problem that needs fixing there, and thus worthy of discussion here.

So saying ‘go to an RP server’ simply is not good enough.

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rafael12104

Fair enough. The devs should follow through.

One that bodes well is, over the past few years, I have found that RP servers is home to players who are much more conscientious about these types of things. Yes, there are still the occasional trollites that roam looking for reactions to their crap names, but it is muted and much less prevalent.

So, I would start with RP servers at least.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

Absolutely, inside limits set by common sense and more strict in RP servers

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Jack Pipsam

On RP servers I suppose there’s an argument to be made depending how seriously it’s all taken.

But otherwise, nah. There’s plenty more things to worry about than if someone is named OhsheeeehtWatupBOI.

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Pandalulz

If you’re going to dictate naming standards, you might as well just randomly assign them.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

Nah. Generally speaking, I find that I can use people’s names to get an idea of whether or not they’re someone I want to associate with. I’m just not sure I really want to chat with someone who thought “ThroatGravy” and “TunnelButter” was an acceptable moniker to represent themselves in the game world. Those are actual names I’ve seen, by the way.

So I’d have to say no because I use it as a filter of sorts.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Agree with you. Naming standards shouldn’t be enforced. I also use how people name their characters as a clue to whether they are a player I want to play with. Although it’s not always sexually crude names, but also PvP names that will keep me away from players (KillU4Thrill, for instance) or names reflecting of a general disposition towards either naming-while-drunk or actual full-time assholery.

On the other hand, I enjoy punnery and jokes. My favorite in-game name from LOTRO is UggIDon’tKnow, which makes me laugh every time I see him as I imagine him struggling to find a lore appropriate name that wasn’t already taken and simply typing in his frustration.

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imayb1

A couple of days ago, there was a character called “The Deceiver Sauron” who was recruiting for a guild. That name can be seen as a massive clue to one’s dealings with him.

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deekay_plus

i’ve found during my time playing mmo’s that people that try to dictate rp rules or naming conventions to others tend to also be insufferably self important little shits that justify shitty behaviour towards other human beings with their undying belief in teh purity of lore that often comes from sources outside the game (ie game related novels), while often practicing a double standard when it comes to their own rp/names.

regardless of their age or any other accident of birth quality.

so bring on all the cervixcrusher’s and xXxCLOUDSTRIFE420xXx’s if it means not suffering the idiocy of these fools and the GMs that allow themselves to be gamed by them (or who conciously take it upon themselves to be asses to customers based on their limited and usually incomplete knowledge of in game lore).

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Robert Mann

I find it easier to ignore the self important little shits in those communities (those that annoy me via chat,) than to deal with the infinite cycle of reporting the renaming of the stuff that I very much do not care to see. If people cannot manage at least a basic level of decency, then it must be forced upon them to join some communities.

As such, I’m more than happy to be part of those pushing back with force. I won’t, on the other hand, go overboard. If anyone then considers me one of the isils’s, I’d consider them one of the airngw (asshats I’d rather not game with.)

Simply put, you can have your area for that, I’ll take mine, and no big deal… or everyone can be ready to attack each other on the issue.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I needed a good laugh this morning. Thanks for the “insufferably self important little shits”. Has a nice ring to it.

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Stropp

What we need are longer name allowances so we can have names like ‘insufferablyselfimportantlittleshit99’. Some name limits are just too darn short!

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thalendor

It depends on the game and what the developer’s intentions for that game are. If it’s supposed to be a role-players paradise, then sure, got all in and enforce lore appropriate names. If it’s the usual just-get-together-and-kill-some-mobs type of game, then not so much. Or different servers with different standards enforced (RP vs. standard). As for myself, I’d personally like naming rules that remove the worst offending names (sorry, Samlikesham) but not necessarily a super-strict enforcement of lore-appropriate names.

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Minimalistway

This should be the rule for RP servers, but for others? only if the company care and willing to enforce that, and willing to give the users good randomizer, people who don’t want to think about names could just click on a button.

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Robert Mann

There’s dozens of random letter combo generators online, not hard.

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Tanek

Unless you are willing to set up a strict RP server with naming rules/guidelines and you have the resources available to maintain it (which is the part most games don’t have, and that is understandable), then just stick to worrying about names that violate whatever crudeness/harassment/racism/etc rules you have in your user agreements.

Also, to anyone who uses an RP, foreign language, first amendment, or completely made-up excuse to name a character something offensive, you probably knew exactly what you were doing. If, by some chance, you did not, take it as a learning experience and move on rather than dragging other players into your crusade for why disallowing your racist name is censorship. Thanks. :)

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bereman99

Only for RP servers if the company is willing to enforce it.

Otherwise, just weed out offensive names (obviously offensive, not “have to connect a bunch of dots that don’t really usually connect” offensive) and provide a random name generator that spits out actual names and not gibberish and I think that’s good enough (though bonus points if the name generator follows any sort of lore based naming conventions the way FFXIV does).

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Ironweakness

I zoned in next to two other guardians in Destiny 2 last night— Murderface and Ottoman. One was an unabashed psychopath while the other was a piece of upholstered furniture. I’d watch that TV show.

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thirtymil

Sounds like a series about a couple of homicide detectives to me.

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Tandor

I’m all for basic naming enforcement on standard servers to preserve some standard of decency, and strict naming enforcement on dedicated role-play servers.

The one advantage of a relaxed approach to naming is that it allows you to spot the idiots before being grouped or guilded with them.

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Eliandal

While I do get tired of seeing variations of “bigTets” in BDO – it’s far better than what some kids seem to consider acceptable/funny these days (and don’t try to climb on my back for that – I consider anyone young enough to be my child a ‘kid’ ;P) I don’t particularly care, but the current wave of people who seem to need to pick the most offensive racist/sexist/homophobic name they can just needs to stop. It’s funny in that WoW has actually improved on this over recent years. The last game I actually remember enforcing this…DAOC (yup – that long ago – I once tried to create a ‘shade’ named Digitalix – I thought it was clever – she didn’t make it out of the generator ;P )

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Schmidt.Capela

There needs to be a “no offensive names” rule. Besides that, I would love if internally the game considered composite letters as their base one — so you couldn’t name your character “Légòläs” to get around “Legolas” already being taken — and also disregarded non-letter characters and same-letter groupings before and after the name — so “XxX_Legolas_XxX” also couldn’t be used to get around that.

Also, as long as we are talking about character names, it is really helpful when the game both makes names unique for the whole game and allows names with more than one word (surnames). Unique names across all servers eliminate potential issues with name clashes when merging servers or transferring characters, and surnames make finding a good name feasible even when they are unique across the whole game.

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Tanek

When it comes to the name clashes, I know there are widely varied opinions on this, but I also like the Star Trek Online / GW2 method of attaching a unique number to your username so you don’t have to sit there for what feels like an eternity of “name already in use”.

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Robert Mann

Aye, or both names being a unique combo. Makes it a lot easier to find something.

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Rolan Storm

YES.

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Armsbend

Only if they never want me to play their video game.

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Makhiel

Isn’t that the intent?

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Utakata

xArmsbendx >.>

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Knox Harrington

For me, it really depends on a variety of factors that I don’t think are being considered, let alone examined. What version of Val Kilmer are you saying sucks? Are you talking about the Iceman/Jim Morrison, Val Kilmer? Or are you talking about the second worst Batman/fat slob Val Kilmer? The difference between the two are so stark that they should merit a distinction in the naming process. “Oldvalkilmer Sucks” is quite the reasonable statement, but to say “Valkilmer Sucks” as a whole is just not appropriate and should be flagged and reported.

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starbuck1771

No name your character whatever.Most games once a name is used on a server nobody else can use it which becomes a massive pain when it comes to naming new characters.

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BalsBigBrother

Just offer the option to turn off names at the players discretion, problem solved and easier to maintain than an actual naming policy.

Personally it doesn’t really bother me one way or other. Though those folks who insist on having names that are longer than a Welsh town name with far too many syllables than is good for them can all go burn. My carpel tunnel is bad enough without subjecting my hands to typing that out to send a tell no matter how lore friendly it actually is :p

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thirtymil

Note to self: must rename all my alts with incredibly long names so no-one ever whispers me.

wpDiscuz