Editorial: What's in a Name?

Hello again, Lusi-sprites. It is Thursday which means someone in my household gets paid and will be bringing home Chinese take-out (yum!) and, more importantly for you all, I will be treating you all to my random weekly ramblings. This week my quirky ol’ brain is fixated upon character names.

Due to the ever-increasing popularity of in-game voice acting, more and more games are forcing the game’s characters to have certain names. As hilarious as it would be, the FFXII game code does not know how to make Vaan yell “Stinkypants lives!” or “I’m Captain Stinkypants!” so unfortunately, Basch must be named Basch, there is no option to rename him to Stinkypants or anything else. Now for me, this is fine. It is rare for me to re-name a character. I believe that a character’s name says something about them and you lose part of their essence when you change their name. For instance, it is tempting to rename Chrono Trigger’s ‘Frog’ to ‘Glenn’, or FFVII’s ‘Red XIII’ to ‘Nanaki’, but the fact that these characters introduce themselves the way that they do, says something about them. Something rather sad, actually.

Occasionally I will rename a character. Due to a bug in the Suikoden 2 code, I was advised to name my Suikoden 1 hero something that begins with the letter M. I know, it’s weird. Just trust me here. So rather than name him Tir which is the unofficial official name of the hero, I named him Milon. Now he is always Milon, even if I no longer have a copy of Suikoden 2, even if I rarely used McDohl when I had Suikoden 2. The dude in the green head scarf-thing is Milon. Additionally, sometimes a name just strikes me as really fucking stupid and I simply must change it, and I do enjoy having the freedom to do so when needed.

What do I do? *panic*
On the whole, though, I still maintain that the developers usually know what they are doing when they choose names. Sometimes they are mistranslated and I will correct this in-game when possible (Aerith/Aeris, Lenna/Reina, etc) but in general I try to keep the default names in place. When there is no default name or even a generally accepted unofficial name, I become confused and irritated. In Disgaea, for example, I decided to name my mages after their respective elements. The green mage was named Brieses, the frost mage was named Frieze, and the fire mage, well, I could not think of a name for her that meshed with the other two, so she was never created. Names are that important to me.

I know that some people could care less, and often change a character’s name just for fun. I know that Lusipurr has a save file of FFIX where Freya has been named Ginia, sacrificing the statement Squeenix tried to make by naming the character after a Norse Goddess. So I wonder, is it bothersome to other people when there is no option to rename a character? Or are most people like me, and prefer to use the default names unless there is some goofy reason to do otherwise, such as code errors or misspellings? What do you all think? Do you rename characters often? If so, why?

Bad things happen when there is no default name


  1. When I was younger, I used to go through FF VII, VIII, and IX all over every time I had a new love interest (Which wasn’t often)

    I would go through the story and name the main hero me, and the main heroine my current love interest. It made the game much more enjoyable, to imagine me sweeping her off her feet at the whim of unleashing my identity at the closure of FF IX, or the mysterious night together with Tifa in FF VII… Or my favorite, the space scene in FF VIII. It gave me a new perspective to look at my feelings for said relationship.

  2. Also, FF VII had an interesting predicament. I could name Aerith after my love and really hate Seph,
    name her my Ex, and really enjoy watching the death scene in a maniacal, disturbing way :D

  3. I do like the option. I’ll usually have to play through a game many times with the original names first, but then I don’t mind changing them. In FFIX for example, my latest playthrough all consisted of names taken from Lusipurr.com and Riddlethos.com staff.

  4. @Squalldane: lawl, I fully support the “let Sephy murder my ex” system.

    @Ethos: We all know you made Garnet change her name to Oliver. Dirty man.

  5. Dagger kept her name as Dagger.
    That will never change.
    I’m more likely to re-name a girl I meet as Dagger than the opposite.

  6. @Squall – awesome :)

    I’m fine either way.
    I changed Red XIII’s name back to Nanaki cause I figured if he actually had a say he’d get pretty pissed that not a damn person in AVALANCHE remembered his name. according to my friends and what seems to be about 80% of the internet I’m weird* for doing that.

    *non sequitor – seriously, who was the was the idiot who came up with the “i before e except after c rule”?

  7. I don’t tend to rename characters unless their names are exceedingly silly (like Dagger), though I am tempted rename Squall as Oliver since I often get the two confused.

    -I also renamed Red XIII as Nanaki, since that is his name.

  8. On one playthrough of FFVII, my brother tried to name Red XIII Nanaki, but misspelled it. I’ve also found it amusing to name all the characters the same thing, or name them after other characters in the game.

    That being said, I pretty much always stick with the default names. Not because of any respect for the game’s integrity, I’m just really lazy and not very creative. When I’m forced to make up a name, I usually use my own name, then I’m unhappy with it for the entire game (this happens a lot with Persona 3/4). I definitely prefer it when games at least provide you with a default option for a name so you can get on to more important things.

  9. It also adds a level of replayability when you create profane names… not that I’ve ever done this >.> <.<

  10. @SD – I have. the first time I played Secret of Mana I named that sprite BITCH. I later found out it was a he and the game became immensely more entertaining!

  11. @breaka666 – Haha! That would prove to be rather entertaining

  12. In reference to that Suikoden name issue, when I played, I insisted upon the complete continuity of McDohl’s name. I decided that ‘gosh darn it if they’re going to call him McDohl in the second game, he shall be known soley as McDohl to me.’ This led to game lines like ‘Is that the infamous Mcdohl McDohl?!’ Good stuff.

    I’ll keep the names default when possible, correcting when needed as well. The later was interesting in the Star Ocean remake for the PSP (Raddix/Roddick). They let you rename your main character and then they used his default name in the voiced scenes anyway. Identity crisis anyone?

  13. @ schtolteheimreinbachiv It’s like Tidus in FFX – they allowed for name changes, which made cutscenes really awkward – not to mention FFX-2, where he was just ‘you-know-who’ the whole time. Personally, I keep names the same, although as kids it was fun to change the rival’s name to something stupid in Pokemon.

  14. Yeah, by the time FFX rolled around, re-naming Tidus felt like a bit of a rellic.

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