The Daily Grind: How do you pick your MMO character names?


Embarrassing confession time: I was a teenager when I first started playing MMOs, and my first characters were all named after Wheel of Time characters. Humiliating. But I bet a lot of you have a similar tale!

I’ve been thinking about that since Quantic Foundry – which we normally cover for its games research – posted up its newly built character name tool intended chiefly for MMO players. It’s a nifty app, although I’m not that thrilled about seeing things like “Dârkangël” suggested. (There is a special place in hell reserved for people who use multiple special diacritics in online names!)

Nowadays in MMOs, I still use the handle of my favorite roleplaying character, but I tend to use unique or somewhat unique names for all my actual toons, I suppose on the chance that I decide to roleplay them seriously at some point. As for “breetoplay,” you can blame that handle on Sera back in the long ago days of Massively-that-was, back when free-to-play was on the rise instead of the default.

So let’s talk character and handle names. Do you use a tool like Quantic’s for naming your online peeps? Do you have a huge list you pick from to be unique? Do you stick to old stand-bys? Or are you that person who’s going to look at “Dârkangël” and think, hey, I should use that?

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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Aaron Biegalski

I absolutely hate it when I someone using a name from a commonly-known / popular work of art. It is an instant tip-off that the individual has very little creativity or original thought.

It isn’t like it is difficult to come up with something more original. If you really cannot come up with something on your own, then just choose a name / theme you like and then just start changing letters until the source is sufficiently unrecognizable.

An example: The name “Luke Skywalker” is always recognizable, regardless of the context. But a minor modification to “Lucas Windrunner” makes it entirely unrecognizable. The same can be done with nearly any name you like.

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I’ve blessed some of my best, most beloved characters with various combinations of ‘Robinette Broadhead’, the main character from Fred Pohl’s legendary novel ‘Gateway’. I even named my second son ‘Robin’ after him. :D

Christopher Pierce

I name mine after philosophers or philosophical concepts, usually, like Dasein or Figura (from Heidegger and Kant respectively – Figura is short for ‘figurative synthesis.’ and Dasein is just Dasein).


If my go to names are taken I use google to search for historical names of a person compatable. For example, alchemists, or fencing masters, bold knights, mercenaries, deities etc.


I hate seeing “xXxDarkAngelxXx” and all the special character-type names. Ugh.

Be. More. Creative.

But practically speaking, do people realize those special characters have specific pronunciations that indicates their name should be pronounced “DayrkAhnjeel”? All because someone wasn’t original enough to come up with something other than “Angel” or “Dark Angel” as their in-game name. People really need to work around it and be more creative if a name is taken than using alternate characters–which have pronunciations that are not like what they’re trying to say! Otherwise they might as well go full-Hotmail address/Twitter bot handle and call themselves “DarkAngel54973109.” Quite frankly, that would be easier to type.

For City Of Heroes/City Of Villains, I named my characters a mixture of bear puns (Cub Atomic, BearForce, Bear Down On It), cult movie titles (Deep Red, Female Trouble), band/artist names and song titles (Love Vigilante, Dream Attack, Black Hit Of Space, White Lies, Earl Brutus, Blues From A Gun, Hex Hector), double entendre (dark-powered Controller and Lord of the Underworld, Nether Regent; dark-powered Stalker, Nocturnal Omission; Polish horse racer and staff-fighting Scrapper, Pole Jockey), and good old-fashioned puns (Rhett Khan, Ice Cold Bruce Key).

For Star Wars Galaxies, it’s strictly in-universe names for me even if I’m not role-playing. I even looked up “Ithorian naming conventions” to name my Ithorian characters. But I generally hit the random button until something provides the creative spark for the name. With Galaxies, the random button generally stays species-specific.

For Star Wars: The Old Republic, I went with regular or mostly Star Wars-y names with some Polish and Hebrew variants on “bear,” except for my one pun exception: Chissyfit.

For Blade & Soul, I went with English phrases in Romanized Japanese/Chinese/Korean. But my Lyns are all named like 1920s gangsters: Vinnie Balducci and his familiar Angela Purrelli, Mickey Mulligan, and Solly “The Butcher” Schechter.

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My original online names were based off of names I’d come up with for my D&D characters. I liked one of them- Ashtari- but it didn’t sound Dark Elf enough to me, so it got modified to Shazanti for my character in EQ1. That tends to be how I do my names. If there’s a name I read/hear and I really like it, I will often modify it for use in games…sometimes only slightly, and sometimes so much so that they’re virtually unrecognizable as having anything to do with each other. At other times I just come up with names out of whole cloth- seemingly out of nowhere but who knows if there wasn’t a seed of it in my subconscious.

I do have a few of those names that keep popping up in game after game. Shazanti was originally a Dark Elf Necromancer, so that name will often appear on dark and/or elven characters, particularly if they are magic users. That name in particular has become ‘me’ online, so I find myself creating some form of her again and again. I also have other names that are semi-tied to other archetypes: the fighter, the rogue, the healer. They’re my fall-back names in case I’m unable to come up with something new, or just get too frustrated at This Name Is Already Taken for the fifteenth time when I thought the name I just came up with would surely go through this time.

Lieutenant BaconWaffles

I use musical names like Aria Contata, Sonata Crescendo, & Rondo Midi. No particular reason beyond that almost no one else does it & I’ve rarely been told a name was already in use since I started doing this.


Reminds me of Rock Man (Mega Man outside Japan). The main character is Rock Man, his little sister is Roll, his older brother is Blues, his dog is Rush, he has a bird named Beat, there is an anti-hero named Forte with a dog named Gospel, the villain has a bird named Reggae, etc.


For me its always a lotr/tolkien name I am after(Not aaaragorn or Gaaaandalf, but other characters from the books). If not available, I try some names from favorite fantasy movies or favorite NPCs from old RPG games. If still unlucky (usually when I join late in an MMO) then I will try a name generator and use whatever sound better in my ears.


I’m not very imaginative when it comes to names. I have 3 or 4 names I use in every game I play and they’re all from books I’ve read. The weird thing is, they all start with the letter “K”, which was unintentional.

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I have a quite large google sheet with things I encounter and find interesting. In the case of a new character, I can choose something that fits.