The amusing awkwardness of real names.

I've been using Real ID for a few months now, mostly to be able to chat cross-server with blogger or Twitter friends. Something that's come up that I find personally amusing is that whenever I add someone new, I always find myself initially torn - do I continue addressing them by their character/blogger/Twitter name? Or do I start using their now-revealed real name? I've experimented with both and in general, I ignore their real names and just continue to use whatever handle for them I'd been using before. It just feels weird to suddenly go from saying "Hey Rades" to "Hey Mike". (UH OH MY REAL NAME DON'T HACK ME D: D:)

This is not a new scenario for me, however. I've always found using real names in WoW to be an interesting conundrum, and a hard habit to get used to.

Before I joined my current guild, I would usually hang out on Vent with my brother and three close in-game friends just to chat & whatnot. Of the three, two were players we had met in-game and over time, gotten to know pretty well - well enough to know each other's real names, add each other on Facebook, etc. In Vent, these two friends and my brother all use our real names...but I still use their character names out of habit. (Not my brother - I use HIS real name, of course.)

To make things even more confusing, the 5th member of our group is my brother's co-worker, who I was introduced to as a real-life person rather than a character name, so I call HIM by his real name in Vent. He, however, addresses my brother/his co-worker by his real name, but the rest of us by our character names!

Basically, it's a ridiculous mess for any visitors (such as when we pug a raid), as some people are addressed by their real names, some are addressed as their character names, and some are addressed as both, depending on the person talking to them. :P

To confuse my head even more, when I joined my guild I discovered that they were almost all (like 95%) real-life friends. So in guild chat and Vent, they always use each other's real names because, well...they've known each other for years. It makes sense, but it sure did take some getting used to as I frantically tried to remember both everyone's names and which alts belonged to them.

Eventually I got the names locked down, and considered working my real name into our conversations so it wasn't as strange in Vent ("Hey Paul, Steve, John, Ed, Corey, and...Rades.") but as I was contemplating this, a guildie who had taken a break from the game returned - a guildie also named Mike. So rather than invite confusion, I remain Rades.

...except when I bring Mardak to raid nights, of course. And am still referred to vocally as Rades in Vent, thereby ensuring that any poor people we've pugged end up thoroughly bewildered. But the main/alt name fiasco is a whole different matter. ;)

(We did experiment with him going by Mike 1 and me going by Mike 2, but it was a disaster. Ironically, it's not the first time I've been part of a "Mike 2" naming convention. The other time was in real life with my friend/roommate Mike - our friends called him Mike 2 and called me...Walter. Yeah, I have no idea either. My friends are bizarre.)

15 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    I've actually always been pretty fond of using real names of people I've grown close to in WoW, but never in a raiding situation. It's bad enough with people changing mains but going by their old toon's name or having paid name changes that we haven't gotten used to yet. I raid almost exclusively on my warrior now (who is named Kelaino), but everyone continues to call me Meta, probably to the confusion of anyone we've pugged.

    I have, however, once called my ex-boyfriend by his character name while at a bar. It was pretty weird for everyone involved. :P

    All my RealID friends that were old guildies continue to call me by my mage's name when whispering me cross-server. This is probably for the best, since my RealID name is Elizabeth but that is not what I go by -- and I hate when people just decide to pick out a nickname for me.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM

  2. gravatar

    Funny stuff. This is why I'm glad my guild sticks to the much more sensible and mature character names.
    We did dabble with real names once... it didn't work well.

    Although I do find this still makes it confusing when someone brings a different toon along. When I switch my main in the new expansion. Will I be known as Wulfy, or by my new name? Arg!

    September 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM

  3. gravatar

    Meta, Wulfy, you both reminded me of yet another way the name issue gets confusing (mixing up main/alt names) so I added a little paragraph at the end. It's true, it's such a pugging disaster! Haha.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:50 PM

  4. gravatar

    Walter! Hee.

    I think by and large my guilds have always gone by character names as the policy. (Which did help, since I have been mostly in family-type guilds and there has always been a group of friends who knew each other IRL and it would have been weird with only that group going by RL names)

    And as you do know, I prefer to call people by their character names (or by their twitter handle, as the case may be) because I think it's "weird" to call them this new weird name... Mike? What? His name is Rades! Gosh!

    September 9, 2010 at 1:01 PM

  5. gravatar

    Our guild is a mix of some who have known each other for years because we've been in the same guild for that long, and others who have joined our ranks more recently. For most of us, real names are a rather personal thing and are only given to members that we trust.

    However we did have a couple members who, for whatever reason, felt that knowing someone's real name was almost like a trophy and would call people out by their real names at every opportunity. This created a lot of confusion and a little bit of resentment among the rest of our members, myself included. Eventually we had a talk about it and agreed that in places like raids or guild chat, people were to be called by their character names only.

    Of course, no one said anything about mains and alts and I know that I'm a huge offender of always calling someone by their main no matter what character they're on. It makes things confusing for a guild of people who are all altoholics and for those who have multiple mains.

    September 9, 2010 at 1:46 PM

  6. gravatar

    This comes up even if you never use real names at all! You know how it goes: You raid with a group of people, and of course everyone's name gets reduced to the first one or two syllables of their character's name. That works fine at first, because what people say in Vent goes with what is written on screen.

    As time goes by, people switch to alts, change mains, move to different groups. There's a story about an old farmer who'd had the same ax for sixty years—he'd replaced the handle three times and the head twice. But it was the same ax, right? It's just like that with names.

    So now, when everyone gets in Vent for raid, they're all calling each other by what their main's name was during Burning Crusade or even Vanilla. In some cases, the original character doesn't even exist anymore. It's really confusing unless you happened to know the original character for some reason.

    Since I don't use RealID myself, I still don't know the real names of most of the people I've raided with, but the confusion is just the same. :)

    September 9, 2010 at 1:48 PM

  7. gravatar

    our friends called him Mike 2 and called me...Walter. Yeah, I have no idea either. My friends are bizarre.

    That... reminds me insanely a lot of my friends. XD In high school we had two Katies, so one was Katie and the other was XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS. Yeah, we almost always said the whole thing, in allcaps. XD

    On the topic of "what you call people", we have extra layers in nicknames. :D In my guild vent, Hano (the old friend who got me playing WoW) will call me either Rosie (my handle back when I met him), Apple, or Aislinn, generally depending on what the last person called me. In my guild in general, people call me either Apple or Aislinn, though it's shifting more towards Apple since I changed Ais' name. And then there's Oreo. I talk about her on my blog sometimes - SHE mostly goes by Anderia, but every once in a while she'll refer to herself by her given name, and then I call her Oreo almost without fail - in return, SHE generally calls me by my Real Name. Another friend goes by his real name or his main's name, but I hop on his vent and call him Spooky. It's a whole big mess. :)

    As for me... I let people know that I go by X (and sometimes that my name is Y) and that that person over there calls me Q, and if they want to give me a completely different nickname, they should feel free. XD I get called a LOT of different things.

    September 9, 2010 at 1:50 PM

  8. gravatar

    I've had both. In my TBC guild, the core members were so close, they'd been playing together for years and met up in London for drinks fairly regularly (occasionally doing overseas meetups in Denmark and such), so we kinda got used to RL names being used back then. A bunch of us were on Facebook, and did the meetup thing, so Real ID for me wasn't so weird (besides, it's not hard to find my real name on the internet, whilst I don't announce it I'm hardly secretive about it). It's kinda cool for the closeness of a guild, but calling each other Uzumaki, Seithir, and Stabs is a lot more guildlike :p

    September 9, 2010 at 3:17 PM

  9. gravatar

    I've recently experienced this as well... when I lived in the UK my guild there knew me only as Ang (or Angelya) for several years. I did know a few people's real names, but they didn't really get used except in very personal communication.

    The guild I joined when I moved back to Oz have always called me by my real name, which took some getting used to! Weirdly, in this guild there are still a few people who we know only by their character name. No idea why!

    September 9, 2010 at 4:34 PM

  10. gravatar

    I prefer to stick to character names in game, even if I know people's real names, just to avoid confusion.

    I think the trick is to stop thinking of it as strange or awkward, but to simply accept that people can have a whole varitey of nicknames and that they are all equally valid (and not impersonal or whatever).

    I kind of reminds me of my high school days, where pretty much every one in my class got settled with at least one nickname at some point. There were people there who called me Irish Coffe - and I'm neither Irish nor do I like coffee - so I got used to a fair amount of random name useage in those days.

    September 9, 2010 at 4:50 PM

  11. gravatar

    It just feels weird to suddenly go from saying "Hey Rades" to "Hey Mike".

    Oh noes!!!

    Now there are two of us!!!!

    For me, Red/Redbeard works, especially to distinguish between me and any other of the legion of Mikes out there. Redbeard was one of my nicknames in college, so I'm fine with that. My other in-game nicknames, like "Q" or "Tom", I've no qualms about either.

    The only thing that I find amusing is that my grandfather's nickname is Red. His comrades in arms from WW2 never referred to him as anything other than 'Red', so when people start talking about 'Red' I automatically think they're talking about him. It never occurred to me that I'd inherit that mantle, but I guess I have.

    September 9, 2010 at 5:33 PM

  12. gravatar

    I know most of my close guildmate's RL name, but usually the habit to use our ingame nicknames is just stronger. it's hard to change that when you've been calling someone by his nickname for years - I even tend to refer to myself with my nickname in some (real life-) conversations we have lol.... -.-

    also, half of the guys in my guild are Andys, very annoying!!

    September 9, 2010 at 6:02 PM

  13. gravatar

    So now you finally see why you should be using Radeshunter Radesdruid etc... unless you don't want people being able to find you with a simple /who , it works out rather nicely.

    September 10, 2010 at 9:17 AM

  14. gravatar

    It's true that Pelt is more or less a blessing in a guild of people using IRL names. Look, it's Pelt...adin!

    This is why the Chatter addon is invaluable for me. You can click on anyone's name and "set main," which in the guild that uses all RL names I do - Who is Rades' main? Why, it's Mike, of course!

    The role-reversal/identity/meta stuff just makes me giggle. Clearly, you are Rades' main - it's only an illusion that the situation is reversed! ;)

    For me personally I am comfortable with any of my character names. None of my guild calls me by my real-name, and of course bloggers/twitter people call me Vid, which is fine. Otherwise I'm known by some variation of Vid, Shae, or Millya, all of which are a-okay by me!

    September 10, 2010 at 11:01 AM

  15. gravatar

    For me personally I am comfortable with any of my character names. None of my guild calls me by my real-name, and of course bloggers/twitter people call me Vid, which is fine. Otherwise I'm known by some variation of Vid, Shae, or Millya, all of which are a-okay by me!

    That's good to know Vid, er, Shae, er, Mil, er, Stac....

    Wait, who are you again?

    September 10, 2010 at 3:47 PM