I bought the XBOX 360 and played Halo 3 all week, but I have a problem; I need a Gamertag (or as the kids say now, a “Gamercard”).
My old online name has been “AVnerd” since my dial-up bulletin board system (BBS) days in 1985. It’s hard to believe that I have used that name online for over 20 years, and now think that I have outgrown it. Its even harder to believe that I’m using the term “outgrown it” while considering replacing it. If I had truly outgrown it, I would just quit playing these stupid online games and start acting like an adult.
Alas, I am a child of the 80′s. Video games are a rewarding escape for me, and I enjoy the artfulness and creativity of the authors. I’m not a hardcore gamer, and honestly don’t have much time to play, but I sure enjoy it when I can. Now that I have Halo 3, I want to go online and play some XBOX Live matches with folks that I have met over the past few years. The problem is that now I need to pick a name for my XBOX Live account, and that name will be permanent.
I have spent the last several years building a name for myself both on-and-off line. I have built a small “Scott Fletcher” brand as a friendly and down-to-earth commentator and expert on software programming and citizen media trends, and as a voiceover artist that serves small and independent media producers. If you Google “Scott Fletcher,” I am #3 in the results. I doubt that I’ll ever overtake the #1 position held by the baseball player, but you never know!
I need to find a Gamercard name that somehow identifies myself as that “Scott Fletcher” guy, that still sounds cool when you see the following phrases on-screen:
- “You killed ________ with a headshot.”
- “__________ just shot you with a battle rifle.”
- “_________ is on a killing spree.”
- “________ wins the game.”
(My favorite thing to do in LAN games is to use the name “YourGrandma”)
The name also needs to be easy to pronounce when people see it on the screen. The problem with “AVNerd” was that no one pronounced it correctly. No one said “A-V-Nerd” like it was meant to be pronounced (as in Audio/Visual Nerd); Everyone said “AVE-Nerd” (as in Avenue Nerd) and I got tired of correcting them.
When I finally choose my XBOX Live Gamercard name, I could choose something completely unrelated to “Scott Fletcher,” but why would I create a new name solely for use online? The only reason that I can think of for creating a completely new persona would be to conceal my actual identity.
The only two reasons that I can think of to conceal my identity would be 1) because I am tired of being me, or 2) because I want to do something online for which I would be ashamed in real life. For instance, if I created a new separate online identity, I could feel free to be a total ass-munch jerk to other people without worrying about sullying my actual name! I could play Halo3 online and taunt other players with lewd and inappropriate remarks. Woot. No thanks.
Since I plan on being a normal human online being instead of a total ass clown, I might as well be “me” online. I value my time too much to squander that time spent building an online persona with a name like “MadNoobzSkillz” or “PhatWormBottom” or “HaxorPizzaBreath.” So what if “PhatWormBottom” has mad street cred? It’s much better for “Scott Fletcher” to be associated with a good reputation that just some fictitious online persona. Besides, I just don’t have enough time in my life to manage multiple identities. Every activity in which I participate should be used as a branding opportunity, and I should continue to focus on tying my online and offline identities together.
You might be wondering “Geez, did he really say that playing Halo 3 online is a ‘branding opportunity’ for himself?” Yes. I did. Welcome to my own personal hell. I’m a adult that plays kids games because a part of me is still a kid. I’m also an adult that values his reputation and makes continual efforts to improve it. You never know when the next Halo Spartan that you melee in the back of the head will be the person sitting across a desk from you in an interview.
I’m 38, a gamer, and a senior software architect at a healthcare software company. My advice to you when you’re playing Halo 3 online: Keep your smack talk playful and civilized, and keep your lewd comments in check. Don’t say anything online that you would be ashamed of in real life, and always feel free to apologize if you realize that you got carried away in the heat of the battle. It can happen to anyone.
So about that Gamercard: How about “ScottyPoopyPants”?
(UPDATE: You can call me MrScottFletcher)