Thursday, May 23 2013
The character you play in your PBEM (Play By Email) role playing game is the most basic foundation of your participation in the game. Your character sets the boundaries for what you can do and how you can act. One of the first things someone notices about a character is its name. A name can send many signals, it is therefore important to carefully consider your choice.
The name of your character should reflect its personality. In the real world, we are pretty much stuck with the name given to us by our parents. This is quite different in a PBEM game. There you not only get to shape your character, you also get to give it a suitable name.
Take, for example, a name like Mary. I am pretty sure the first image that pops into your head is not of a hard criminal or a strong action hero. Instead, it signals other values. The same goes for other names. Often, short name such as Rick, Ted or Jack is associated with tough characters while a longer and more complex name such as Malcolm or Theodore makes you think of 'dry' characters with higher education.
I strongly advice against using names that has already been used in the books, TV-series of movies your PBEM game is based on. There are several reasons for this. Your character should be an individual, a unique person that you have the freedom of developing in whichever direction you want.
A character bearing the name (or part of the name) of a more well known character would create a 'link' between the two. When you hear the name, you would not think of your character first, but of the more well known character. There might also be a possible legal problem, but that is too complicated for the scope of this article.
The last name of your character is also something to put a lot of energy and thought into. If your PBEM game is set in a fantasy world, perhaps you can use the last name to further describe your character or its abilities.
If you are looking for modern names, or human last names for sc-fi games I suggest you look in the 1990 US census for a good list of names (http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/).