Welcome, one and all, to the Weekly Video Games Thread! I hope the Thanksgiving weekend was good for you, whether or not you celebrated it.
But, if I may direct you towards the header image, behold! As of last night, I, Wolfman Jew, have become an official Pokémon Champion. I’ve been rushing through Pokémon Violet in an exciting blast and this weekend managed to beat all three main storylines. I’ve uncovered the schemes of Team Star, felled the five Titan Pokémon and claimed their Herba Mystica, and rose to the top of the Pokémon League. And it’s all thanks to my feisty Meowscarada, my kind Gholdengo, and, uh…
…Wait. Now that I think about it, why did I name all of my partners after Bruce Springsteen songs (other than Klawf, since that’s an I Don’t Even Own a Television reference, but anyway…). And it’s not just these six that got this; I gathered a strong bench of secondary partners for specific situations, and almost all of them got a referential nickname as well. So let’s dive into this—not the Springsteen thing, obviously, but nicknames.
Nicknames are as concrete a feature of video game culture as anything else. From the three-letter owner of a high score to the ability to name pets, it’s a part of many games. It’s the way we name the heroes of our RPGs, whose default names can go totally unheard. The wide array of circumstances and kinds of these optional names means that everyone will likely use or ignore them in their own way. For some people, just the defaults are fine, while others like to use the space to get creative.
For me, I stay with the defaults in The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem, but ever since the mid-2000’s I’ve tried to give my Pokémon personal nicknames. Sometimes I’ll follow a theme, sometimes not. I’ll use silly names when they’re less impactful; no one in Mass Effect ever refers to Commander Shepard by their first name “Ca$hMoney,”1 while Joker’s Phantom Thieves antics in Persona 5 obfuscated his birth name of “Wolfman Jewsovic.” Though I do sometimes get a bit imaginative when it’s only the file name that you can edit, which I think also counts as a nickname!
What about you? Do you like to play with nicknames? Do you like to follow themes or play it by ear? And is there fun history with some of them? Of course, I’d also love to hear about what you played this weekend.