What's in a Name?
Recently, a bunch of my alliance friends invited me on a couple of their guild runs. We were laughing and chatting in vent, when one of them said "Jessica keeps interrupting me and asking me questions!" Confused, I said "What? No I'm not, you silly warlock!" to which he responded "No, no, I was referring to my daughter, Jessica." Slightly embarassed, after a short pause, I replied "Oh. Whoops. Guess the cat's out of the bag now, I just gave away my real name!" Much to my surprise, everyone else exploded in laughter, with rounds of "It wasn't really that big of a secret, Jess."

Well. I never claimed to be subtle.

I've thought about this a lot since. We play daily with these people, get to know them and their personalities, and often quite a bit about their personal lives - Yet a lot of the time we don't even know their real names, though we can recognize their voice over vent. While this sort of thing is becoming more and more common amongst my generation, the majority of people still aren't quite sure where to draw the line in what they say about themselves over the internet. In my own case, a strange mix of factors contributes to the internet paradox that is Elimeny, aka Jessabelle, aka Miss Medicina. After all, if you google Elimeny, I'm all over the place.

No, I don't publicize my real name or too many identifying details of my personal life for a lot of very legitimate reasons, though I suspect it would be very easy to get that information, should someone want it. For one, my fiance is intensely private, and it would be disrespectful to him if I were too open about myself since he values his privacy so much. Secondly, if it were not obvious before, I do a lot of work in a research based academic field... one day I really do hope to publish some of my research (if I ever get around to finishing it), and once you do that, you have to be pretty protective of your name.

The funny thing is, I grew up on the internet, and it's very integral to my personal life. I met my fiance online, and several people whom I count amongst my best friends I only talk to over the internet (that includes Fulguralis and Fuubaar!). Relating to people via a handle is not a difficult task for me, nor does it keep me from connecting with others on a very personal level, real name or not. But I always hate these awkward conversations...

Jessabelle: Hi! My name is Jessica :)
Sneakarillio: Hey! Nice to meet you. My name is Sneakarillio.
Jessabelle: ...

There's always this sort of awkward moment as we try to figure out how much personal information to give someone else. After all, we don't want to push people beyond the line at which they are comfortable. When you give people personal information, sometimes it makes them uneasy, because they feel they are expected to return the same amount of information - an amount with which they are simply not comfortable.

I guess my name became obvious, because Jessabelle got shortened to Jess over vent and party/raid chat, and everyone identifies Jess as a nickname for Jessica. I blame Kelly and Fuubaar, FYI.

For the record, most of my face to face friends (I shall now call them F2F) call me Jessie. I actually despise the shorthand IRL - Fulguralis is my real friend in real life. Just because all of our communication happens over the internet does not make him less of a real friend. To be quite honest, most of my communication with my F2F friends happens via the internet as well - I'm a total homebody.

So, maybe it's a psychological thing. I hear about wow being addictive, but I think *anything* can be addictive if you enjoy it enough. I think my grandmother was addicted to church. WoW combines my love of high fantasy role playing games, with my desire for social interaction that does not require me to leave the safety and comfort of my own home. I can be a gamer without being a friend-less loser, who knew? I think people hate PuGs because in general, it's a lot more fun to play with your friends - with the people you know. I know these people, even if I don't know their address. To me, raiding isn't fun if I'm not raiding with those I know - even if I don't know their real name.
10 Responses
  1. Kayllnn Says:

    Jess, this post is soo funny to me. I have thought about this before and I think I am the only WoW player that everyone knows my real name and everyone refers to me by it. LoL. Does anyone know my toons' names?

  2. Jessabelle Says:


    We know them, we just can't spell them because there are all these double letters!!

  3. Fulguralis Says:

    Yeah, way easier to say/spell Kelly. Plus, I always have problems with I and l (depending on the font, they look the same). Besides, everyone gets shortened to like one or two syllables in vent, and we couldn't have Kay and Khay (with a silent h, mind you). Too confusing. Still, it does make me laugh. It'd be funnier if it turns out your IRL name isn't Kelly but like Annamarie or something. Or maybe Sarrahh. You know, normal but with like lots of multiple letters.

    And Jess, I feel touched. Appropriately touched. <3. I, too, interact with most of my RL friends via the internet now too (fantasy sports, work emails, etc) since after college we all went our separate ways. I try to get out to see "real people" every now and then, just because I get depressed if I hole myself up too much, but I don't force myself to go out either for it to be "real".

    Still, Fuu and I need to come have drinks with you guys some time. Which reminds me, I need to email you something...

  4. Fuubaar Says:

    @ Kayllnn

    The reason why I call you kelly is because you're in the raid & I normally can't remember what toon you're on or how to pronounce it :P


    So much link lovin' I feel like I need a smoke ;)

    @ my husband

    Jess did not choose to touch you appropriately, it was a slip up and a missunderstanding. She was aiming for inappropriate.

    Try again!

  5. Dan Hughes Says:

    I was thinking about this same thing: Because while my handle for everything I do is "Cerberus," I introduce myself as Dan, and put my name on everything I write as Dan.

    Maybe I confuse people: Cerberus Starraiser being written everywhere, and then there's this other dude, Dan Hughes, who writes instead.

    But also, in reference to the last sentence, I guess it is an important psychological impact to realize when you can define how much you can claim to 'know' someone, without ever knowing the name they choose to call themselves away for you.

    Interesting post!

  6. Vinenaro/Araat Says:

    People used to not know my real name... before FACEBOOK! oops, there goes the fire alarm! I gotta go!

  7. Jasmine Says:

    "WoW combines my love of high fantasy role playing games, with my desire for social interaction that does not require me to leave the safety and comfort of my own home."

    Well said! ;D

  8. frank Says:

    my name is franklin and im a girl


  9. Shopshopshop Says:

    On this note of first names, my guild addresses everyone by their first name. When I first joined, it was a bit alarming, but now that I'm used to it it makes the guild feel much more friendly (not to mention you don't have to remember everyone's alt names).

  10. Ophelie Says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I started a character to play on the same server as a few of my classmates. When I joined their guild, I was introduced by my real name, which sort of shocked me on the spot. Then I realized that they all called each other by their real names. It was very strange at first, but I guess it's just one of those guild culture things. Most first names are very common so it's not like they know much more about who you are. I still prefer calling people by their character names though. Even the guildies (from my main guild) that I occasionally hang out with in real life get called by their character names. I'm not sure why I like it so much, embracing my geekiness, maybe?

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