Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Will the real Isobelle please stand up?

People sometimes ask me where my name comes from. They might even ask silly questions like “Why use a girl’s name in the first place, when you are clearly a man?” And yet, these same people clearly have names, but choose to post on the Guest or Unregistered account here. HYPOCRITE MUCH? God!

Anyway, here’s the mystery, solved and laid out bare for all the masses to know and understand: The name Isobel was always my first choice, but it was also always taken. Isobel is the name of a Björk song. Let me give you a little background on Björk and I. During the year 2000, Björk was the only thing I listened to, music-wise. If there was music playing, and I started it, it was Björk. I became really heavily ‘into’ her, I really liked all her songs, and there wasn’t a lack of material to download and listen to. This was around the time Napster was in full-blown swing, not like just starting, and not trickling off yet. Napster was huge, and there were approximately 8 zillion Björk songs out there to download at any given second.

Björk was (is?) very large in the whole “DJ / Club” thing, and just about every song she had done had been sliced and diced and remixed a hundred times over. The club scene was something I never really got into. I just used to listen to her songs in my room or driving around in my car, with the windows down late at night ‘shout singing’ her songs as I drove around in ghettofied Oakland. She had a lot of material when you started to dig deep. Her first album was made when she was 11 or 12 in Iceland, and it sold a zillion copies. Her whole family was really musical, but the instant celebrity thing kind of rubbed her the wrong way. She went on to join teen angst little punk rocker bands like KUKL, and later came into poppy tracks with some Icelandic poets (and the father of her child, Sindri) in the SugarCubes. There’s a lot I’m glossing over. It isn’t really important. My first real exposure to Björk was her solo album that my brother owned, titled Debut.

If you went looking for a random Debut track on Napster, you would come up with hundreds upon hundreds of results. Not like ‘search for all songs off the album Debut’, but ‘search for all versions of the song Big Time Sensuality’. One day, I tried to see if I could find a list of all the remixes that people had done of certain songs. I don’t still have the link for what I found, but I remember starting to print the list of remixes for JUST the Debut album, and stopping the print job after 9 pages of packed text. It was an uphill battle I would not win. Björk’s own “third” solo album, Telegram, was actually just a bunch of remixes of her second album, Post.

One of the songs off these albums was a song called Isobel, about a woman that lived alone in the forest, “raising wonderful hell”, and so on. Moths delivered her messages to people, but the people couldn’t understand what the moths were saying… all they could hear was Na Na Na Na Naaa…

ANYWAY. One aspect of the song that I really liked was that she lived alone, “married to herself”. At the time, I was just out of a crappy ass relationship, and kind of had the attitude that I didn’t really need anyone else for a while. It all just fit. Whatever.

Along comes the original WoW beta. My roommate had a friend that worked at Blizz, and got us both invites. We logged on in the early closed beta (not the alpha, but early on), and I immediately rolled an undead warlock named Isobel. The name was taken, so I tried Isobelle. Bingo. To this day, all my undead girls have the same face, skin tone, hair style and color as my original undead warlock. I created an identity that day, and use it to this day. Why undead? I can eat people. (Click here for a little background on that one)

I forget how the next step happened, but I think it was when the PvP servers emerged. I tried to roll Isobel on there, and the name was available. I was pleasantly surprised. Björk fans are known for their tenacity, and surely someone else wanted to be running around raising wonderful hell. What happened next was a little weird, because people kept sending me tells just saying “Isobel LOD?”

It took me a while to figure out, but apparently the ‘old’ Isobel was in a guild named Lords of Death (or Destruction, or something… whatever), and had made quite a splash. Everyone thought I was he or she, and it really just got annoying after a while. Sometimes I would just reply “YEAH THAT’S ME, I NEVER SAID IT BEFORE BUT I ALWAYS THOUGHT YOU WERE A DICK”, to which people would give me little 'frowny' chat faces, and then I’d /ignore them. That was fun for a week or so (I seriously got like a billion “Isobel LOD?” tells, it was fucking nuts), but it really ended up just being lame. I wanted to be special, dammit! So I latched onto the –ELLE suffix, and have stuck with it.

All my characters are named some variation of Isobelle (my 61 warrior). I have Izobelle the level 70 rogue, and Ixobelle the level 13 mage. Ixsobelle, Izzobel, Izzobelle, and Izobel are the names of my alt banks. Any one of them that I intend to actually play is made to be the undead girl with the same face and hair. Anyone I just intend to be a bank is an orc or troll for quick and painless runs to the OGR auction house and mailbox.

Fast forward to sometime last week, when the general forums caught fire over some crap called the ‘Armory’. Apparently, Blizz introduced some new part of the web page where you can type someone’s name in, and see what spec they are, what gear they’re wearing, and what guild they belong to, etc.

Personally, I think it’s great. I've managed guild websites in the past, and getting people to sign up to use the wowroster addon was a huge pain in the ass. This is all done for you now. I love it!

Of course, everyone else immediately went into bitch-fest mode and starting creating apocalyptic threads on the forums about the ‘end of privacy’. Thousands of Q keys screamed out in pain, and were ultimately silenced. Here’s these people’s main argument: “I don’t want anyone to be able to see what spec I am, since I lied to my guild about being a holy priest. Apparently the trash heals, purple glow, and the fact that they can see through my body didn’t give it away yet, and I’m hoping to win more ‘healing’ BOEs on the next run.” Good luck with that, Liverlips. Apparently, their privacy is being invaded, and they’re feeling all violated about it.

Instant credibility. Misspell the main word outlining the 'point' of your post. Guaranteed 20+ pages of feedback.

Hey jackass, how do you feel when someone inspects you? Do you cry about it and report them? What happens when you’re in a run, and don’t want someone to find out you aren’t combat swords? Do you just not hit the Hemo button all run long? Are you afraid people will notice you aren’t a protection-specced tank when you’re swinging around the [Big Fucking 2h Axe of the Erect E-Penis]? Here’s a tip if you don’t want other people meddling in your business online: Play Final Fantasy 7 again. No one will ever know you suck at pulling off Tifa’s Limit Break, because you’ll be ALL ALONE!

I digress. Once I saw the armory, I immediately saw the light! I could find out whom all these haters are that keep taking my name! I could find out once and for all, just how special I really am!

The results:

Isobel = 169!
Izobel = 43!
Isobelle = 27!
Izobelle = 9!
Izzobelle = 3!
Izzobel = 2!
Ixobelle = 1!

The first result doesn’t surprise me in the least. If anything, I’m surprised it’s such a small number. Although, when you think about it… given that there are only 222 realms TOTAL (I counted), having a 76% chance that there is one toon named Isobel on your server is pretty large. There’s a 12% chance that you’re on a server with an Isobelle; it’s a much bigger leap. My mage, Ixobelle, is unique in all of the game. I kind of always liked that spelling of it too… maybe if I bring my druid (1 of 11 toons named Yasei) back over to Daggerspine from Scilla I’ll name her that.

I wonder how many Isobelles are people that read my articles here and have made an alt ‘in my honor’? That’s kind of weird to think of, but I imagine there are plenty of Tychos running around in WoW (lol, I can check! 62!), so that’s cool. If it’s the price I pay for internet superstardom, then SO BE IT!

In the end, though, the whole “privacy” thing just makes me laugh. People will complain about anything. The thing that strikes me as funny is just how silly it all is. This is an MMO we’re talking about. We don’t even ‘own’ the characters in the sense that we own the shoes on our feet, so why make a fuss over nothing? Plus, who really cares about privacy on the Internet, unless you’ve got something to hide? I’ve got digitized movies of people having sex on my hard drive. There, I’ve said it. I’ve already detailed my adventures on Napster in search of Björk songs. I’m all caught up with season three of Battlestar Galatica, but it isn’t shown on TV here in Japan. I’m hardly foolish enough to think I’m alone in this kind of thing. On the other hand, it’s not exactly a secret that gmail parses my emails so it can make targeted ads appear in the right hand pane while I read my inbox. I don’t pay for gmail, so whatever, let them have their revenue. But I do pay for WoW! But I don’t get ads on the loading screen. The cycle can go on forever.

I hope blizzard doesn’t buckle to the whinging of the vocal minority on this one. I, for one, would love if they listed all a person’s alts on the armory as well. There would be no point in ‘hiding’ behind a level 1 alt anymore on the forums. Post on your main, or GTFO. Feel free to run a search on the WoW general or rogue boards for posts by Izobelle or Isobelle. I’m pretty much a dick 90% of the time, but at least I’m not doing it from a level 1 gnome account.

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