Thursday, March 24, 2011

Many Names, One Identity

The other night, I called our resto shammy by the name of his shammy in healer chat.  The only reason I used his new name was for the benefit of the new recruit in the channel, so he would not be confused.  You see, the shammy is the third main he has played in our raids since Ulduar, but I still usually address him by the name of the character he was playing from the time I met him through the end of Wrath.  That is his identity to me--it is who he is.  (I'm sure that soon I will just tell the recruit who this person really is and go back to calling him his original name.)

Although I know someone's character's name is not theirs, the name of the character by which I know them first tends to stick with me as their identity.  So when someone plays an alt, I still address them by the name of their main.  To be honest, even if someone changes their character's name, I still find myself hard pressed to change their identity in my mind.  (Ask our friendly shadow priest how long it took for me to start calling him by his new name.)  By the same token, if I am playing an alt, everyone still calls me "Ana."  It's who I am.

To be honest, "Anachan" is an identity which was with me long before WoW.  (Although if you find some blogger in Brazil or something who goes by the name, that is not me.  This is the only blog I maintain under this name.)  "Ana" is short for my real life name.  It also means "hole" in Japanese.  "-chan" is an endearing Japanese suffix attached to the names of children and young girls.  When I was in college, the guys in my 300-level Japanese classes used to say I had a hole in my head for taking those classes without first gaining the fluency which comes from having lived in Japan.  So they called me "Anachan", as an inside joke.  (Having now had the experience of living in Japan and gaining that fluency, I can agree with their assessment.)

Some people tend to name all their characters following a pattern, helping to ensure people will understand the single identity behind the myriad alts.  My husband, for instance, named almost all his alts names starting with "Shadow", which was his nickname in the military, for his uncanny ability to hide well.  (The one exception was a priest, who was named a Biblical name.)  Someone on the WoW forums names all his/her characters beginning with a double-s.  Even some of my later characters, who don't mean a whole lot to me, are just variations on the spelling of Anachan.  (My Horde hunter, for instance, who is now eternally stuck at level 50.)  But my two higher-level alts were both carefully named.

My mage's name comes from Arabic.  My husband studied Arabic when he was in the military, so he helped me figure out the pieces.  "Amira" is an Arabic name meaning "princess."  "Nar" is a word meaning "fire."  So Amiranar is a rather clunky way of saying "fire princess."  (Clunky enough that I had to explain it to my Kuwaiti arena partner in BC, as he didn't automatically make the connection.  But he laughed and thought it was cool when he understood.)  I actually leveled her to 70 as a fire mage because of her name, although she branched out in Wrath.

My priest's name is from Japanese.  In this, I had an advantage, in that my Japanese fluency was gained as a missionary for my church.  (Lots of religious terminology and phrases from which to draw--appropriate for a priest.)  I chose to name her Kaminoko, which means "child of God."  It is a phrase from a very simple children's song we frequently sing, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here."  (Interestingly enough, that name also speaks to identity--a very personal identity.)

I have often seen threads on the WoW forums, asking where people got their character names.  Well, these are mine.  But, of course, my in-game identity is Anachan.

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