ClassicRadar: What does your gamertag say about you?

Virtual-life diagnoses from a real-life PhD

This month marks the five-year anniversary of GamesRadar. To celebrate, we’re digging up our oldest, favorite-est features – most of which posted before the website even had comments – and giving them a second chance to shine. Enjoy this priceless piece ofgamz jarnlismhistory, and expect a “new” classic every few days through March.

Few acts in life seem less significant than selecting an Xbox Live Gamertag or PlayStation ID. After all, it's just a meaningless string of letters and numbers that happen to look good together or happen to be available at the time. Right?

Then again, your name is your identity. It is a symbol of who you are, a representation of both how you perceive yourself and how you'd like to be perceived by others. The fact that it's being used solely for videogames does nothing to lessen its importance - or its impact - when you consider that escapist entertainment is where we play out the roles we wish we could embody in real life. No blaming your parents, either, as this is a name and an identity that you choose.

So is there secret significance hidden within your online handle? We decided to find out.

First, we scoured the leaderboards looking for trends. Before long, we had identified six popular and surprisingly encompassing categories - seriously, you'd be amazed at how many tags fit under one of these headings. In fact, all of the examples used in this feature are REAL. They have not been changed by a single character.

Next, we handed our results over to a professional - in this case, Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Dr. Frederiksen is a former professor at Virginia Tech University and has specialized in applied psychology for over 30 years, during which he has written dozens of research papers and books. He graciously agreed to provide his expert opinion on the following pages as a balance to our more, er, amateur judgments.

Before we proceed, however, a word of caution from Dr. Frederiksen:

"Professional psychologists don’t rely on a single observation such as a Gamertag to form an opinion of a person. And, of course, sometimes the tag really has very little extra meaning. As Sigmund Freud was quoted as remarking... 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'"


Category: VIOLENCE

Examples: Ikilya, Blood 4 Blood, Nightprowler888, Sniper5982, Psychopathic, DeathxDealer13, Knives2, Reaperman, KiLLeR918, Hitman4Hire 88

Violence is the most prevalent theme found in console tags. Seems like practically everyone online is thirsty for blood, murder or revenge. If you cross their path, prepare to quake in fear at their terrible wrath.

Behind the menacing personas, however, are these players really all that thuggishly aggressive? We suspect it's mostly a front. A true badass wouldn't need to announce himself through some silly nickname; he'd let his badassery speak for itself. And if any actual killers use Xbox Live or PSN, they probably lurk beneath more innocent monikers... involving clowns. No, we predict that these seemingly violent gamers are, in reality, as meek and weak as a Doritos-munching kitten.

Dr. Frederiksen: "Saturated with aggression and deviance, this category is often the most troubling to outside observers. While they can be the choice of some truly troubled people, in most cases it is likely to be a relatively harmless way to fit in with the game culture that puts a premium on bravado. In reality... probably more conformity than meets the eye."

Few acts in life seem less significant than selecting an Xbox Live Gamertag or PlayStation ID. After all, it's just a meaningless string of letters and numbers that happen to look good together or happen to be available at the time. Right?

Then again, your name is your identity. It is a symbol of who you are, a representation of both how you perceive yourself and how you'd like to be perceived by others. The fact that it's being used solely for videogames does nothing to lessen its importance - or its impact - when you consider that escapist entertainment is where we play out the roles we wish we could embody in real life. No blaming your parents, either, as this is a name and an identity that you choose.

So is there secret significance hidden within your online handle? We decided to find out.

First, we scoured the leaderboards looking for trends. Before long, we had identified six popular and surprisingly encompassing categories - seriously, you'd be amazed at how many tags fit under one of these headings. In fact, all of the examples used in this feature are REAL. They have not been changed by a single character.

Next, we handed our results over to a professional - in this case, Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Dr. Frederiksen is a former professor at Virginia Tech University and has specialized in applied psychology for over 30 years, during which he has written dozens of research papers and books. He graciously agreed to provide his expert opinion on the following pages as a balance to our more, er, amateur judgments.

Before we proceed, however, a word of caution from Dr. Frederiksen:

"Professional psychologists don’t rely on a single observation such as a Gamertag to form an opinion of a person. And, of course, sometimes the tag really has very little extra meaning. As Sigmund Freud was quoted as remarking... 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'"


Category: VIOLENCE

Examples: Ikilya, Blood 4 Blood, Nightprowler888, Sniper5982, Psychopathic, DeathxDealer13, Knives2, Reaperman, KiLLeR918, Hitman4Hire 88

Violence is the most prevalent theme found in console tags. Seems like practically everyone online is thirsty for blood, murder or revenge. If you cross their path, prepare to quake in fear at their terrible wrath.

Behind the menacing personas, however, are these players really all that thuggishly aggressive? We suspect it's mostly a front. A true badass wouldn't need to announce himself through some silly nickname; he'd let his badassery speak for itself. And if any actual killers use Xbox Live or PSN, they probably lurk beneath more innocent monikers... involving clowns. No, we predict that these seemingly violent gamers are, in reality, as meek and weak as a Doritos-munching kitten.

Dr. Frederiksen: "Saturated with aggression and deviance, this category is often the most troubling to outside observers. While they can be the choice of some truly troubled people, in most cases it is likely to be a relatively harmless way to fit in with the game culture that puts a premium on bravado. In reality... probably more conformity than meets the eye."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!
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