A New Baby-Naming Trend: Video Game-Inspired Names
The influence of gaming has claimed new ground—baby names
Holly L. met her future husband, David, while playing World of Warcraft, the wildly popular online video game. So, when the Rhode Island couple found out they were pregnant with their first child, it just felt right to scour the list of WoW characters in their quest to find the perfect baby name.
Pregnant with a girl, they debated and discarded such character names as Finnall, Moira, and Dagran before settling on Sylvanas—after Sylvanas Windrunner, the “the Banshee Queen” and supreme ruler of the Forsaken.
“We both love the beautiful and powerful sound of this name and love that it comes from World of Warcraft,” Holly explains.
Sylvanas may not make the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular girls names this year—or any time soon—but video game names are becoming so popular that baby naming expert Laura Wattenberg (a.k.a. “the Name Lady”) included a chapter on them in the just-released update to her best-selling naming guide, The Baby Name Wizard.
“Game characters have evolved and taken a new role in our culture,” Wattenberg tells BabyZone. “Today’s game characters are three dimensional, in every sense of the word. Gamers spend countless hours interacting with or even inhabiting these characters, which can make the names really come alive.”
And it’s not just a “guy thing,” she adds, saying that the rising number of women playing character-based video games has really made a difference when it comes to embracing these names.
“My mom named me after her favorite character on General Hospital, which she was obsessed with when she was younger,” explains Holly. “If she thought our name choice was unusual, she never said anything about it. I think she understands that the perfect name can come from the unlikeliest of places.”
From her research, Wattenberg found that role-playing games like the Final Fantasy series launch the most baby names, because they’re built around rich characterizations. “For example, a sampling of girl names from Final Fantasy include, Yuna, Celes, and Aeris. For boys, the list includes Amarant, Auron, and Luneth.”
If there are a few video game character names you like, Wattenberg recommends winnowing the field to names you (and your child!) will still be able to live with long after your favorite video game has gone out of style.
“No matter how popular the character, the most popular game-inspired names are the names that stay in parents’ fashion comfort zone. Raiden and Jax [two names from Mortal Combat], for example, have the sound of popular names like Aiden/Brayden and Jack/Max,” she notes.
Because of their more conventional sound, some video game-inspired names may be able to stay your little secret. “Names like Kane and Soren [from Stargate] are popular crossover choices that will be recognized as homages by fellow gamers yet sound like familiar traditional names to others,” Wattenberg adds.
Holly and David say they get a lot of compliments on their daughter’s WoW-inspired name—and hear one comment in particular from fellow gamers.
As Holly proudly admits, “What have all our parent friends who play World of Warcraft told us? ‘Gee, wish we had thought of that!’”
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