What’s In A Name?

14 May 2024 • PersonalWeblogPoMo

Lately, I’ve been on a quest for finding a new handle/screenname for playing games online. Partly because I like changing things up from time to time, but also because I don’t vibe with the ones I use anymore for a variety of reasons. As I was thinking back on all of my old handles, I thought “hey that could be fun to write about”. So… here goes. Enjoy.

  • bluestreak: my first character name on the first online game I remember playing, JediMUD, way back in the late 90s. I played the heck out of this game for a number of years, and even developed a small zone for the game. bluestreak was also my first experience with clerics/healers, which lives as my preferred archetype nearly 3 decades later. I also used redstreak for an alt. (Oh, and this handle wasn’t inspired by Transformers; rather, it stemmed from the terrible Martin Lawrence film. Alas.)
  • phoenix / griffin: more alts for JediMUD, and my first time venturing into the world of “what do you mean, I can’t get my preferred handle on any game I play?” Using “phoenix” as part of my online persona would continue on to this day.
  • ilk: my first email handle. I didn’t know “ilk” was a word when I came up with this; (I’ve never admitted this before so have fun) the whole reason for this handle was a placeholder for “I Like K____”, my first crush in junior high.1 I just told people it was every other letter of my name, and “Ncae” was gibberish.
  • ihatelockers: AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, was huge in my school. I’m pretty sure I started off as bluestreak when I signed up, and I know I (like my peers) changed screen names constantly. In the final week of 9th grade, I got into a minor altercation during recess, and my punishment was having to come back the day after school got out and clean lockers out for a few hours.2 It was gross. As soon as I got home, I made this handle, and it would be the AIM handle I used into college.
  • graffitisky: Linkin Park’s song “Runaway” starts with the lyrics “Graffiti decorations / under a sky of dust”, and I always really enjoyed those lyrics for some reason. When the Reanimation album came out, the remixed track “Rnw@y” had little chopped up lyrics at the start saying “Graffiti Sky”. I thought this was a beautiful visual, and made that my handle for a while. It remains one that my brain returns to often.
  • niclake13 / niclake: It’s my name. Woo. As I’ve gotten older (and when Twitter had really short character limits), I dropped “13” off the handle.
  • PhoenixUNI: my primary handle for the better part of 15 years. A combo of my favorite mythical creature + my university (Northern Iowa). I didn’t count on a) me falling out of love with my school over the years, and 2) the University of Phoenix existing/becoming a meme.
  • Themble: my first World of Warcraft character, a gnome mage. It was auto generated by WoW’s name generator, and I’ve used it off and on over the years for placeholder characters.
  • Bruuding: my main character name on World of Warcraft since Burning Crusade. It got assigned to my Blood Elf Paladin, which I mained as healer and tank for years. All of my subsequent characters were riffs on the “bruu” tag and tangentially related to brewing beer; Stoutbruu for my warrior, Arcanebruu for my mage, Hoppybruu for my druid, Dotfearbruu for my warlock, or Pewpewbruu for my hunter.
  • GoodDayToFeed: I had a really aggressive playstyle for League of Legends, and often got told to “stop feeding [kills]” when I played too recklessly. I spun up a second account where I mained Teemo, arguably the most hated character in the game, and this handle seemed perfect for it.
  • BulbaSnorlax: around the time of the pandemic, I attempted a rebrand of my streaming persona. I still use this handle in a lot of places, but my interest in streaming died off pretty quick, so this mostly just sits abandoned.
  • ciNekaL: pronounced “cynical”, it’s just my name backwards. Clever, huh? This is my newest name that I’ve just recently started going by.

What about you? Does this dig up any fun memories from your early screennames? Have any sorta embarrassing ones in your history? Let’s hear em!

  1. If I recall correctly, I asked them to the 8th grade dance out of the blue. They said no. Nothing ever came out of it. 

  2. We were playing knockout, a basketball game. I made my shot, got the ball, and threw it back to the next guy in line. He wasn’t paying attention, and it hit him below the belt. My instinct was to laugh, but immediately said sorry. He took a swing at me and knocked my glasses off. He then showed up almost an hour late to punishment day, and while I got to leave at lunch, he had to stay the whole day.