Spoilers for the first season of Game of Thrones. Yes, really.
When I was eight or nine years old, a very lucky friend of mine began playing Final Fantasy VII. When given the option to name his party members, he, probably like most kids, decided to name them after his school-pals. I was lucky enough to be named after the lion-tiger-wolf beast (ligolf?), Red XIII. In hindsight, he clearly didn’t like me that much. If we were best pals, he’d have bestowed my name upon Cloud or Barret. Yet at the time, I felt truly invested in the unfolding story of Strife & Co and begged him to keep me up-to-date with events. Particularly those relating to me. I mean, Red XIII.
It’s amazing what a name can do.
Since then, I’ve played so many games with this feature that it barely makes sense to call it a ‘feature’. Yet recently, one game has made me think about names, nostalgia and the power of emergent story-telling. That game is XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
But first, let me tell you a tale (or two).