Friday, 4 October 2013

Using a pseudonym

Ravanel Griffon is not my real name. (Noooooooooooo! She deluded us! REVOLT!)

As I'm sure you're aware of, some people use their real name, and some use a pseudonym when blogging. And while scouting about around blogs, I sometimes stumble upon the following thought:

"Using your real name makes your blogging more professional." 

This also implies the opposite: using a pseudonym makes your blog being perceived as less professional, therefore having less credibility, less meaning. And guess what, this is not true.

Hence I thought it was refreshing to see Tobold (a quite successful blogger using a pseudonym himself, may I add) write a post 'in defence of the pseudonym'. He made me think "ah yes, that's why I write as Ravanel Griffon". And then I thought this might just be the thing to ramble on about in the light of the NBI, so here it comes.

The pro's of a gaming identity

Tobold in Survival and identity (Tobold's blog):
I am a scientist, and I have written publications in scientific journals as well as a bunch of patents. Now imagine somebody is doing a Google search on my real name for some professional reason: Obviously I do want him to find the stuff I have written professionally. But Google sorts search results by popularity, and games are a lot more popular than hard science. So if I had written my blog under my real name, my professional identity would have been buried in the search results.
I'm not ashamed of my activities as a gaming blogger. I think the idea that gaming is a waste of time is old fashioned and done for. Gaming is a fun way to pass your time and as long as you're not overdoing it there's nothing wrong with it - and this pretty much counts for any type of leisure activity. There's nothing wrong with blogging either: if anything, it's a very brain active hobby that trains both writing and networking skills. So why do I then 'hide' behind my gaming identity?

Indeed sometimes I feel like I should actually use my real name to make a statement and show people it's okay to game, but that is not the main purpose of this blog (it would look different if it would be, I tell you). I think Tobold hit the nail on the head.

It's fine as it is. People I know through gaming know me as Rav, and finding me as such on this blog is only logical to them. That I blog is no secret for people I know in 'real life', and if they're interested I'll give them the link. But if you look for Ravanel Griffon you'll get gaming related stuff, and if you look for my real name, you'll get professional stuff. It's just more convenient this way.

In the end, using a pseudonym isn't strange at all. Think about the book industry, where it is commonly accepted for authors to use one. Singers also often use pseudonyms and nobody is surprised with that. This doesn't make these people less credible. Why would blogging be any different?

Finally, Tobold gives some good advice on how to pick a virtual name, so make sure to check his post out.

But I want to use my real name!

Well, that's fine too, of course. Maybe you work in the gaming industry and want your name found related to your blog. Or you want to show your blog to all your friends without having to explain who Pwnmeister xBloodbathx is. Main point is, your gaming identity will reflect on your real name and will become fused with your online identity, and that is something you should be aware of.

My advice in this post therefore is: use whatever name you want, but make a conscious choice.

To conclude, if you're a blogger and reading this: what name do you use and why did you choose to do so? Write in the comments or write your own post about it. It would be interesting to hear and, who knows, it might even help a few newbies making a choice.


  1. I've had many of my own blogs and have been authors on a number of others. The name I use really just depends on the audience. It doesn't make much sense to me to author something and tag my real name to it when the people who might be reading my banter only know me by whatever moniker I've picked in game. So, for my gaming related blog articles I've always used my gaming name. Outside of that I use my real name.

  2. Let's not forget that in the game community especially, creating an avatar as an idealized version of self or for roleplaying as something completely different from one's real self is a commonly accepted practice.

    It can help you learn a lot more about yourself (what's the same or what's different between your real life and game personas) and understand others by walking in their footsteps and assuming a different viewpoint from your conventional everyday one.

    I use a name I constructed long ago for MMO blog commenting as I wanted this pseudonym associated with this genre and community, and for it to have a certain "rep." And the image I chose for the avatar echoes what I want to project with this identity - a sort of wise, insightful lone wolf.

    Or maybe I'm just a closet furry. Yep, that could be it.

    1. Furry, okay, I had to look that one up.... errr, thanks. xD

      You're right of course, on both subjects. The idea of a gaming avatar is widely accepted, but still I feel some think it's less 'real' - but perhaps those people value gaming lower (maybe even on a subconscious level). And I think I learned a bit about myself as well - at least, I put loads of effort in my avatars, including imaginary profiles, even if the game doesn't really provide with much RP choices. I like imagining the way they would act in situations and quite often put a bit of myself in there.

    2. Yes, exactly! For example, we all know that the imaginary profiles on the MMORPG "Facebook" are "fake," yet look how much time some players spend developing rich narratives and backstory there!

  3. My name comes from my first D&D character (before the first elder scrolls game "Arena" showed up I may add) who has since been my main stay through any and all games that allowed a naming convention. Changing it now would just feel wierd. :P

    1. Forgot to add, I've had it for so long that if someone who knew me IRL or in game should stumble across my blog by accident , without previous knowledge of it, a look at the name / picture and they'd know instantly it was me. I -AM- Joseph Skyrim. (among a few other names) ^_^

    2. I was already wondering where that "TESO stole my name!" note originated. :D

      Cool to hear that people in 'real life' would recognize you! I guess the picture does look realistic. But for me only a few people would recognize "Ravanel", since it's not related to my real name. And apparently my elf avatar doesn't look enough like me (must be the ears!). ^^

  4. For me personally, I need to keep my online worlds separate. It can actually be uncomfortable when they collide. I don't need my family or some friends knowing all about my gaming and nor do I want most people in the gaming world to know all about my real life as well. There must be trust there for that. Now there are a few bloggers (like you) that I don't mind if they knew some RL stuff about me, but no way I'm going to put that out on my blog for everyone and anyone to see. I don't need future employers or something knowing about my gaming habits. Whilst I don't find gaming something bad, there are people that do so I'll share once I know they're someone who won't judge.

  5. My reasons is a dramatic tale of betrayal, love triangles and great loss. Well, not really it is actually a pretty simple reason.

    When I got the itchy to blog again, I was playing Everquest 2 regularly and it was because I found out a friend of mine in there had a blog. Plus Rakuno is my favorite character in EQ2 (even though he got neglected a lot due to his class) and is the only good name I made up so far. So it just felt like the most logical choice for using when blogging (and commenting. :)

    ~ Rakuno

    1. Awwws, and there I was so much looking forward to the dramatic tale! I like the name Rakuno, though, it's definitely a good choice (although I don't believe all the others would be that bad). ^^

  6. "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."

    -- Julian Assange, as played by Benedict Cumberbatch, quoting Oscar Wilde. Trailer for "The Fifth Estate"

    "Some people say that you wear a mask to hide your identity, but I think it's the other way around, you wear a mask to show who you are."

    -- Franco Mattes

    Or, of course: Pussy Riot.

    Masks and pseudonyms are not devices for hiding. They are devices for truth. For telling a truth to others. For discovering a truth you may not even have known yourself.

    When I signed up for my 1st MMO it didn't allow "real names." Since then it's changed and does allow them. If they'd allowed them back then I probably would have used mine. I can't even imagine the experiences I'd have lost out on. As Wilde & Mattes suggest, a mask or pseudonym is a license to explore and discover and grow fresh. A pseudonym isn't "factual" for things like paying taxes and being arrested, but if you invest in that identity, you can discover truth deeper than you ever imagined.

    1. Vanessa hath stolen my very own thoughts. I think many of the opponents of pseudonyms (those who think its a way to hide or do other similar things) are really just trying to get you to feel bad about it. People don't understand the mask and yet they do: everyone wears a mask and even many masks. And I think most of us use them to better express ourselves or to be more open with parts of ourselves that we otherwise hide behind "official" monickers.

      Great article Rav.

    2. Trailer for the Fifth Estate:

      As usual, you people are so much more wiser than I, I didn't even think that far. So glad to have you!

      It does make me wonder if I'm getting the most out of this virtual identity. I'm certainly not trying to reach an idealistic goal, making the world a little happier place with nice pictures and stories at its best. As most of us try to do, I imagine.

      Maybe a virtual identity creates more freedom to write what I want, but in a sense it has become so 'real' to me, that even as a blogger I sometimes need to kick myself and think of that I should just write about whatever enthuses me, not what people expect me to or what they like reading. (E.g. nobody reads my Pokémon articles, but I keep bothering you guys with them. :P)

      Then again, that's what I try to do in 'real life' as well. In a sense, I really dislike masks, at least when they're an excuse for dishonesty. Geesh, I'm getting philosophical now. I'm probably just the typical Dutch girl (did anyone say blunt?). ^^

    3. Agreed on every point. I also feel victim of the "Well, I wrote about all this stuff now people think my blog is about that!". But it is just better for myself to write what *I* feel passionate about than what people expect I should be writing about. I believe one's passion shows in one's work and when that happens you end up finding like-minded individuals, eventually. :)

      Also, I'd like to contest your claim that nobody reads your Pokemon articles! I read them! The only reason I don't make any comment is that I don't play it and thus my comments would be full of ignorance and other silliness. If it makes you feel better you got me really close to giving it a try again a few times.

  7. hmm I read your Pokemon articles too... I'm just a lazy commenter ;)

    Yeah I generally prefer to keep my 'gaming' and 'real life' identities separate, it's a matter of people in real life misunderstanding gaming (probably partly at least cos we all hide our identities :P) and not wanting random strangers know who I actually am... I think having an alternate identity really fits with the rpg nature of the games I play though, it's part of the escapism, part of leaving the annoyances and stresses of the real world behind.

    Although it can also help you avoid prejudices in the gaming world. My kin or guildmates generally know I'm female but if I pug, I don't let on. even if you're playing a female character,most people assume you're male... Fortunately I've never had any really bad experiences, but early on, way back when, I did get followed around by a male toon in a game which was just irritating (more kind of puppy love not stalking ;)) and I learnt my lesson.

    I do have mad fits where I think it would just be so much easier if I had one email address, one name, one google profile etc etc but I haven't yet and I probably won't. although it can be more hassle I think it's worth it :)

    1. erg forgot to say I named my alter ego after my main character (was originally suzita but the sindarin eldaeriel is a much better version so I'll stick with that now ;))

      eldaeriel :)

    2. oh hey starandshadow, one thing that might help with multiple identities that each have their own Gmail, Google+, etc... is multiple web browsers. Having to log in & out is really a pain. And even the browsers that let you have multiple "users" you still have to log in and out. But there are lots of great, free browsers. IMHO the 2 best browsers, Chrome & Firefox, both are open source, so you can get flavors of each.

      2 Chrome (Chromium) alts are SR Iron, and Comodo Dragon. So starandshadow IRL could use Chrome, and starandshadow VW could use Iron. That way both identities could be logged into everything always, and you just switch browsers to "play" the identity you want. Similarly there's a nice variation of Firefox called Pale Moon

    3. ohhh - why didn't i think of that?! fabulous, I shall check that out immediately - thank you :D


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