Since my last post was about how I chose the naming style in
my game, it seemed like a good time to go over how to pick names. The answer is
easy: just pick it.
Whoops. I guess that would be too short. To expand on that,
the process I use is pretty simple. Most people have average names. Most American
names don’t dig into their personality. Since I don’t write fantasy, I stick to
that. Someone doesn’t know if their baby will truly be the defender of man
before they’re born.
I usually start with the character. Before I name them I
tend to know something about them and what I want them to do. Sometimes I even have
a sound I associate with them with. They feel like an “Mm”? That’s where I’ll
start. While I’m looking, I consider their economic status and family roots.
Next I’ll compile a list of names. Usually from baby sites.
Sometimes facebook. I sound them out and talk about them with the various names.
It’s a pretty intuitive process. I usually just know when something feels
right. I’m not someone who looks for a huge meaning in a name. It’s not another
layer for me. It’s like naming a child. It’s almost entirely because I think
Now, if you’re someone who thinks this process could take
hours and you don’t have the time, my advice is to pick something and stick
with it. No one is going to question someone’s name. Unless it’s obviously
theatrical and with reason. No one is going to question why you picked Dylan
instead of Robert…. And if they do, is that really someone’s opinion that you
care about? Unless you want your names to matter, they don’t. Really think
about how important it is to you that your names matter. If it’s keeping you
from doing more important things in your project, I’d cut corners here.
Okay, Alex, I get that. But I really can’t pick a name! All
the names have dissolved from my mind! That’s fine. I have one more piece of
advice, themes. I think themes are fun and endearing. If you have a more
aesthetically cute game, names based on desserts would be adorable! Or if it’s
based in space, let’s do constellations. Your themes don’t need to be obvious.
Our space game is a little to “gritty” for constellation names, alright, we should
try astronauts. Does the aesthetically cute game have subverted dark
undertones? Let’s name them after serial killers. If nothing feels right, just
pick a theme. If you pick a less obvious one your fans will probably have fun
when they figure it out.
Naming is not a science. It’s no different than picking baby
names. When the baby comes, you kinda have to just pick a name. Even if you
weren’t sure yet. People don’t question me when I introduce myself as “Alex”.
Don’t be worried about people questioning you.