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WoW Rookie: A character by any other name would be so weak

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Your character's name is literally the essence of your World of Warcraft experience. Think about it: from the way you think of your character (a roleplaying personality, a tool for gaming achievements, an expression of yourself) to the way others see you, your name plays a defining role.

While Blizzard indulges in the occasional sly riff on pop culture and even pays homage to the WoW community when naming NPCs (non-player characters) and items, you may find yourself dismayed by the results after attempting to do the same with your own characters. The way we see it, character names are like tattoos – and what seemed like a great idea at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night might not smell so fresh in the harsh light of day.

Naming characters can seem overwhelming to a new player, especially if you're creating a character on an established server where many popular name combinations have already been claimed. Let's cover the basics of finding an appealing name that won't wear thin or break any rules.


The first thing to consider is whether or not your name breaks the game's rules. Let's look at the most basic guidelines, according to Blizzard's support page on naming. Blizzard classifies problem names in three broad categories.

Highly inappropriate Characters with names involving these issues will be assigned a randomly generated name and be temporarily suspended from the game.
  • Racial/ethnic/national
  • Extreme sexuality/violence
  • Sexual orientation
  • Obscene/vulgar
Moderately inappropriate Characters with names involving these issues will be assigned a randomly generated name and receive a warning.
  • Harassing or defamatory
  • Blizzard employees
  • Inappropriate
  • Advertising
Restricted Characters with these names will be prompted to select a new name for their character at their next log-in.
  • Trademarks
  • Pure gibberish
  • "Leet" or "dudespeak"
  • Titles (does not apply to guild, Arena team or pet names)
  • Real-world references
  • Partial or complete sentences (does not apply to guild or Arena team names)
Blizzard offers still more details in the game's Terms of Use – the agreement you click on and agree to when you log into the game. Restrictions named in the Terms of Use include names that:
  • belong to or impersonate another person
  • incorporate vulgar language or are offensive, defamatory, obscene, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable
  • belong to a popular culture figure, celebrity, or media personality
  • contain or are substantially similar to a trademark or service mark
  • belonging to any religious figure or deity
  • are taken from Blizzard's Warcraft products
  • are related to drugs, sex, alcohol, or criminal activity
  • are comprised of partial or complete sentence (e.g., "Inyourface", "Welovebeef", etc)
  • refer to pop culture icons or personas (e.g. " "Britneyspears", "Austinpowers", "Batman")
Blizzard makes it clear that these guidelines are not intended to be a comprehensive listing of all problem-name scenarios. If you truly have any doubts about what constitutes an inappropriate name, consult the Terms of Use and visit Blizzard's more detailed support page on inappropriate naming.

Sez who?
Many players complain that while they themselves follow naming policies, other players continually flout them. "Does Blizzard really care?" they ask. Of course they do! "It's got nothing to do with 'not caring,'" notes WoW Insider staffer Michael Sacco, formerly known as Blizzard "Blue" community manager Belfaire. "It's just that most policies aren't proactive. With a player base as large as WoW's, it's almost impossible to be proactive with policy enforcement."

You can report inappropriate names in game through the Help system, but it's not very convenient. There are add-ons that will make the task more convenient, if you find inappropriate names a persistent problem on your server.


Choose wisely, young grasshopper
Your mother was right: first impressions count. Joke names rarely make a good impression on anyone around you. When you choose an inappropriate character name, you set your reputation and respect levels at a deficit before you even log in. PvP players will be more likely to gank you, players on your own faction will be more inclined to diss you, and you'll be at a disadvantage interacting with other players in trades, groups and raids.

Avoid using special or foreign characters (on U.S. servers) in your name. Blizzard does not recommend (and in some cases, does not allow) their use. Besides, players who don't know the keystrokes required to create those characters won't be able to /whisper you, put you on their Friends lists or invite you to groups.

Another consideration is whether or not the name you choose has lasting value. Will you still want this name floating over your head in six months? A year? Longer? Maybe that silly joke won't seem so funny anymore, or maybe the girlfriend you've named your 'toon for will be long gone.

Whatever you choose and why, remember that Blizzard's GM staff will only change names that violate its naming policy. If you change your mind about your name but it doesn't violate any rules, you'll have to use the new paid name change service.

Tips for great character names
We'll leave more extensive ideas about how to come up with fresh, interesting character names to our faithful readers and the comments section. If you're an experienced hand at creating gaming characters, how did you come up with your character name? What makes your name special to you?

WoW Rookie feeds you the basics to get you off to a good start in the World of Warcraft. Find more tools you can use in the WoW Insider Directory and WoW Insider Leveling Guides.

Filed under: Tips, WoW Social Conventions, WoW Rookie

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