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Archive for July 11th, 2012

Pixelated Guilt: Changing a Main

I did something today that I might come to regret.

I’ve never really loved the name of my main toon. I chose it because it seemed like it suited her, and didn’t give much thought to it beyond that. Over the years of playing WoW, her name has become my name. But it doesn’t suit me. I don’t like it when people call me that. And so today, I forked over the $10 for a name change. And now I feel guilty about it.

My main is almost the first toon I ever made. I say almost, because there was one other toon before her, a night elf druid with the name of Faylina. I instantly fell in love with this character. I liked her long purple hair and her athletic looking body. Her name suited her well, and it suited me too. I’ve long used variations of my middle name, Faye, as identities online, and I didn’t see a reason for WoW to be any different there. As I ran through Teldrassil, I felt a wonderful connection with this character, even though I didn’t know much about the lore of Warcraft or anything about MMOs in general. I was just looking for an escape into a pretty fantasy land for a few hours, and I thought I had found it.

A few days later, I told my friend I started playing WoW, and he said something to the effect of “No, don’t do it! Save yourself now! Don’t let yourself get sucked in by that game.  But if you’re going to play, roll up a horde character on Argent Dawn.”

“Horde?” I asked. “But if I want to be a druid in the Horde, don’t I have to be one of those weird cow things?”

“They’re Tauren!” my friend replied, sounding quite put out by my words. “And they’re the greatest race in WoW, totally noble and honorable, and…hang on, I’m going to re up my account.”

Since the prospect of having a friend to play with was far too tempting, the next time I logged in, I switched servers and went to Argent Dawn and then clicked on the tauren for the race selection. I chose druid again for class, of course, and then I stared at the bovine avatar, a little line probably appearing between my brows.

“You are not a Faylina,” I told her. “Faylina means graceful fairy or elf. You are none of those things.”

The name that I was so fond of didn’t suit this new character, and it felt wrong giving it to her. I wanted to RP in WoW. The whole reason I started playing was that I wanted a creative outlet again. I didn’t know much about these tauren things, but I could see from the background on the character selection screen that it looked like they were part of some sort of Native American culture. My then boyfriend (now husband) is of Native American descent, so I really wanted to do the right thing for the culture. This character couldn’t be Faylina. She had to be something else. I went to a wiki about WoW and read about the Tauren and their culture and their language. I read that:

The language of the tauren is often harsh and low sounding, which is reflected in the names of their children. The last name of a tauren is usually a family name, handed down through the generations.

So I sat there typing out names, choosing to start one with a K, since that sounded harsh and I tend to just like names that start with that sound. Another site had suggested that female names have “round” sounds in them, so I thought O’s would be the way to go. And after messing around for awhile, I finally came up with Koloma. It suited the character. Ko seemed like a cute nickname for her. And most importantly, the name was actually available on the server. I hit done and zoned into the world, blinking at the plains of Mulgore and trying to decide if I liked it compared to the pretty night elf forests I had left behind.

Having a friend to play with was a good draw though, and so I stumbled my way through Mulgore and then the Barrens, leveling slower than I’m fairly sure anyone has ever done before. My friend eventually met up with me, playing a cute little blood elf paladin girl, and I felt a little jealous of how…not clumsy his toon looked. But I was getting used to my tauren girl, even if she did look goofy when she ran or emoted.

A few days later, I got a text from my friend.

“Hey,” it said, “Were you being unintentionally hilarious, or did you know that Koloma means ‘snort’ in the Makonde language?”

“Uh….” I replied. “Unitentionally hilarious, but that kind of fits, huh?”

We both laughed about it, and a few days later, I made this picture.

What I didn’t realize when I gave my character this name was that it would eventually become my name as well. WoW is my first MMO, and so I didn’t really understand things like instances or raiding, or that eventually I would be talking to people on Mumble and they would actually be calling me Koloma out loud. For her, the name is perfect. For me, not so much. When people talk about Koloma doing something, there’s always a disconnect there. It doesn’t feel like they’re talking about me. It feels like they’re talking about my awkward but awesome tauren druid whose name means “to snort.”

I came to realize that forcing myself to be Koloma felt just as wrong as forcing her to be Faylina. It’s not fair to make either of us be something that we’re not. And so I went searching for a new name, one that would suit us both. I looked up actual Native American names, ones that I could modify to include a little bit of myself. After searching through, I found two that I thought would work, Aiyana and Ayasha. Fayana, I discovered, is a name for some sort of fanfic shipping couple from some supernatural teen show that I have absolutely no desire to be attached to. Fayasha, on the other hand, seemed safe. I quickly reserved the name on my server, and then sat there for a month, trying to figure out if I really did want to change it. For some reason, changing Koloma’s name made me feel guilty.

Okay, I know she’s just pixels. I know that she doesn’t actually exist and have feelings. But for whatever reason, I feel like I’m betraying her somehow. It’s why I didn’t turn her into a troll, despite generally liking that model better. I can’t even change the color of her fur to get a different cat when I’m in kitty form. How did I think I was actually going to be able to change her name? She and I have been through so much together! We survived Barrens chat and the Scourge invasion before Wrath dropped! We experienced our first pug and discovered the need for a decent guild! We found that a mix of rest, cat, and balance talents do not make for a good leveling experience and then found out about the wonders of dual spec! We killed the Lich King! We killed Deathwing! I’ve written stories about her! How could I go and change her identity like this?

But in the end….I’m not Koloma. I’m me, and I want her to reflect that too. Fayasha seems a good compromise, and it’s not that hard to go back and replace Koloma for Fayasha in her stories so she’s still the same character.  And rather than “to snort,” Ayasha means “little one.” It’s ironic and appropriate, because in our raids, my druid is always the tallest toon, yet in real life, I’m probably much shorter than all of the people I raid with.  So despite the weird guilt I felt, I typed in the name, then loaded up WoW and  stared at my toon for a little while, trying to imagine her in game. “I think we can both be Fayasha,” I told her.

And with that, I hit the “enter world” button, ready for both of us to be ourselves.

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