The Name Game
You ever notice how no one refers to each other by character name in-game? In all my time spent in random dungeon groups, never has someone called me by my character name. It’s always either been by my class or my role.
I think it falls under the blanket of “extremely poor etiquette”. In the real world, you would never address someone as “girl” or “person” or some other meaningless personal descriptor. Yes, very good. I am a girl. But by god, if you try to get my attention by calling “hey, girl!” I will find the nearest blunt instrument and jam it in your eye socket. No one likes being addressed like that. It’s rude. It’s demeaning. It says, “I have no idea what your name is and instead of caring enough to find out, I’m just going to throw random titles at you until you respond.” If someone tries that, I usually respond with a cold, “I have a name” and refuse to respond otherwise until they politely ask for my name. I guess I’m stuck up, but I have never believed that such discourteous behavior was ever acceptable in the social world.
Or in WoW!
So why do we do it? More interestingly, why do we tolerate it? It’s not like we dont know everyone’s names. They are written on our screen right in front of us, as plain as day. So we have no excuses, really, for addressing people as “healer” or “druid”. If that is the only name I’m going to ever go by, then why the heck did I create a personalized name on the creation of my characters? I didn’t name my priest Cass so she could be simply called “healer”.
I think it has something to do with the informality of online interaction, and the severe lack of not only kindness, but of civility that goes around in communities like WoW. We’ve all heard that anonymity is the bane of decency online, and I think that’s exactly right. With so very few measures in place to punish people for acting like ass clowns, there’s no real reason for them to behave like mature adults. Part of that could be instigating the trend of addressing people by their class/role in a group environment. A way of keeping people at arm’s length, if you will, or keeping them impersonal so you can treat them however you want and not feel guilty for cussing out another human being.
I would assume you are less likely to behave poorly towards someone you feel like you kind of “know” as opposed to someone you don’t. I am also going to assume that addressing someone by their character’s name as opposed to their class or role is part of that “knowing”. The random dungeon finder is a very impersonal process. You join the queue, you get assigned to a group of people you have likely never met before and will never meet again, and you plow through a dungeon – often times without ever saying hello to one another. I guess in a sad way it makes sense then that you wouldn’t bother to address your fellows by their character names.
It’s one of those things about (online) society I notice. It rankles me to be addressed in such a way, but I don’t recall ever actually saying anything about it. Because, again, I’ll likely never be in another group with that person. But is it really so hard to call people by name? Cass is four letters long. Sylvestris is commonly shortened to Sylv, as are most character names I think. If it’s longer than four letters it gets shortened anyway. Calling me Sylv is shorter than calling me “druid” or “healer”…so what gives?