I had some thing happen to me this morning while playing Rift that has happened countless times. I got a message to the effect of “Hai Belghast!” from someone that I noticed is in fact on my friends list. However for the life of me I have no clue who it is based on the name. Not wanting to seem like a heartless bastard I play along, until finally some nugget of a conversation triggers in my head and explains to me that yes… I do in fact know the person and who they are. Essentially my brains filing system works really weirdly when it is concerned with other people. I meticulously file away bits of information like personal details… hell sometimes even emotions or songs that I attribute to that person… my brain building this complex network of only vaguely connected information that I equate to as this person. However often times when it comes to a name… that information is filed as unimportant and is often jettisoned into the sands of time. Now there are some folks that use the same name in every single game… and for them I have a bit more rote memorization of those names… and even better if they happen to recycle the same fragment of a name over and over like I do with “Bel”. However the problem is after a couple of decades of playing MMOs… I have had so many names associated to so many different people crammed in my skull that it all sort of blends together.
If you think of it like this…
- Everquest – probably had a pool of about 500 player names that I had to memorize and associate with one another on both Veeshan and Xegony the servers I played on.
- Dark Age of Camelot – this was a relatively small guild, and we were part of a relatively small alliance so probably 200 names or so.
- Horizons – I got active in the larger community here so probably around 300 names that I had to sort out and try and remember.
- City of Heroes – all told probably about 300 names as well but there was a lot of carry over from EQ, DAoC and Horizons.
- World of Warcraft – Recently we hit the 1000 character cap in the guild… and considering longevity and activity in the community as a whole both horde and alliance side in multiple guilds 2000 names or so total.
- Rift – Been in several guilds on several servers… so probably around 300 names to remember.
- Guild Wars 2 – Not as active here but in four guilds so probably around 200 names to remember.
- Elder Scrolls Online – We had 150 players at launch… and this was a strange once since we interacted with account names not characters.
- Final Fantasy XIV – last I checked we were at around 300 characters in the guild, and if you factor in random community folks and other linkshells that probably goes up to around 500 character names.
So not factoring other games in… we are already up to around 5000 character names that are swimming around in my head looking for associations with some bundle of information about them. Then there are a plethora of other games, twitter, raptr, steam and other means of contact that I have with names associated there is quite literally no way I could possibly keep up with it all. I am trying to fake it like a pro but sometimes I fail miserably. The problem is I want to remember, I want to know exactly who someone is just looking at a name but I simply can’t every time. What is extra frustrating about it is… that the information is up there somewhere because I rarely if ever forget. I just have the worlds worst filing system because I associate things with bits of information that make horrible indexes. I mean how can you search by a feeling… when you are only inputting a name? Anyways so firstly I want to apologize if you are ever happy to see me logging in and I am super distant at first. What I am honestly doing is trying to get more information from you to connect the puzzles pieces until it all comes snapping into focus. Imagine yourself in a library where there are tons of books but no filing system… and the ones that you used last are of course the easiest to get to. However the ones that haven’t been touched for months or years… they are going to take awhile to uncover but are eventually reachable.
I am not sure how much of this really is aging, and how much is the fact that I have way more information in my brain today that I had a decade or two ago. I grew up in a small town where I only ever knew a couple hundred people total in my life. Now I interact with literally thousands of people on a monthly basis, and in doing so… I am desperately trying to care deeply about each and every one of them. The empathy section of my brain is sort of permanently working on overdrive trying to grasp and hold as many people as I can in my monkeysphere while at the same time trying to lose as little information on the ones that just happen to slip out. I realize this is a bit of an odd topic, and it is once again coming late in the day as I sit down at the keyboard for the first time for any extended length of time. I guess I am proving that I can in fact write both in the early morning and in the evening. In any case know that I really do care, I just sometimes need more time to boot up my search engine than others when it comes to retrieving any meaningful information from a name. The image is of course not connected to this topic at all… I just wanted to somehow blunt the wall of text with a cool mount.