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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: To pseudonym or not to pseudonym? That is the question. rss

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Jon Chambers
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My name is Jon Chambers. There are 25 of us on linked in and hundreds of Jon Chambers on facebook. (I gave up counting after 100)

I am known in other circles as Q4T. Not many, but some. The story behind that name is rather dull and I don't plan on telling anyone, but I like the name. It's big capital letters and a number that stick out in any list of people's full names.

So, I've published my first game and I'm filming a pilot show that will be considered for The Dicetower, and I've started doing it as Q4T. I have many creative pursuits including film making, book writing, game design and I may find a creative hobby somewhere new entirely.

All was good to go until someone warned me of the horrors and lunacy of making a game myself and crediting all my hard work and effort to Q4T. He didn't argue that no one would believe it was me, but suggested it might be awkward and unprofessional to explain to a potential employer, business partner or client that I use a real name and a fake name.

One thing is clear, I must pick one name for both, but which? Q4T or Jon Chambers.

I'll be up front and say my mind is already made up on Q4T. I'm only posting this in case someone can explain to me how doing so could cost me big money later.
 
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Joseph
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I don't know that it would cost you big money later, but you should be ready to explain the meaning behind it, at least to potential employers.

As long as it isn't something like, "Yea, my friends call me Q4T cause I can drink a 40 oz beer real quick, so can I have that VP position in your bank?"

I don't think it should be a problem, especially if you are explaining that you wanted to keep you creative pursuits separate from your professional ones, especially depending on what you do for a living.
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Gláucio Reis
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Well, I'm not going to try to convince you of anything, but the use of an obvious nickname (not a "stage name") in a professional field looks amateurish and immature to me. It makes me think the person is some youngster with little/no experience and know-how. In any case, there is at least one boardgame designer (with one quite successful game) who uses a nickname, so what do I know?
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Martin
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TTDG
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There may be a third choice. Pick a name that is a name and not a string of numbers and letters. Actors do this, writers sometimes do this (pen name), etc, but it is a real sounding name. If you do this though, you can still pick something more distinct than John Smith, without going so far as to get into Xavier Kimblebluster territory.
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Sean T
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In my experience (from the research world), it is more professional to use your given name. If there are more than one in the industry/field, then you add in your middle initial. People will not confuse you with others outside of your industry/field.

From a marketing perspective, having a unique name is a bonus.

In my opinion, I would do what is more comfortable and what you feel will give you the best facade in your pursuits. If you want to add in both, you can easily go by: Jon "Q4T" Chambers. In the end, it is you marketing yourself.

An Aside: There are 512+ people on LinkedIn with the exact spelling of my name.
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Tomello Visello
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ffascout3 wrote:
If you want to add in both, you can easily go by: Jon "Q4T" Chambers.
Best compromise that I see.

Unless you want to try reaching as "Jon Kuforty" to explain "Q4T".

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John "Omega" Williams
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Another option or five.

1: Add your middle name.

2: Add your callsign as your middle name

3: Use your first and middle name as letters and then last name.

4: Letters all.

5: Middle name as letter.
 
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GSReis wrote:
Well, I'm not going to try to convince you of anything, but the use of an obvious nickname (not a "stage name") in a professional field looks amateurish and immature to me. It makes me think the person is some youngster with little/no experience and know-how. In any case, there is at least one boardgame designer (with one quite successful game) who uses a nickname, so what do I know?


Almost every creator of entertainment product goes by a a name other than their birth name. One of my favorites is Suda 51:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goichi_Suda

Just make certain that you read up on how to use a pseudonym properly for legal purposes.
 
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Adam Trzonkowski
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I am for the parenthetical myself. I went by Ferrel for a very long time but when I started producing creative works I didn't want to write under a pseudonym. I also didn't want to alienate my existing audience.

I went with Adam "Ferrel" Trzonkowski. It has worked out and typically now that is what you see when you look me up.

What may interest you is looking up the psychology behind pen names. I did that when I was working on my first book.

For instance, my name makes it harder to sell books. Why? People don't want to have to say, type, or spell Trzonkowski when they talk about the book they're reading. They may not consciously know that but studies show it to be true. I'm proud of my heritage so I stuck with the name but I had a much simpler pen name picked out.

J. K. Rowlings chose that name in part because it sounded more masculine. There was a fear that a feminine name might hurt the book.

There is power in the name you choose. Choose wisely.
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Ferrel wrote:
I am for the parenthetical myself. I went by Ferrel for a very long time but when I started producing creative works I didn't want to write under a pseudonym. I also didn't want to alienate my existing audience.

I went with Adam "Ferrel" Trzonkowski. It has worked out and typically now that is what you see when you look me up.

What may interest you is looking up the psychology behind pen names. I did that when I was working on my first book.

For instance, my name makes it harder to sell books. Why? People don't want to have to say, type, or spell Trzonkowski when they talk about the book they're reading. They may not consciously know that but studies show it to be true. I'm proud of my heritage so I stuck with the name but I had a much simpler pen name picked out.

J. K. Rowlings chose that name in part because it sounded more masculine. There was a fear that a feminine name might hurt the book.

There is power in the name you choose. Choose wisely.


So true. I had thought of using Hunter S. Tomcat and then found out that it is an actual cat's name. The last thing I need is a bunch of catnip packs showing up in my mail
 
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Alison Mandible
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On the one hand, it seems very awkward to constantly be refusing to explain your pen name to people-- because they WILL ask. And unless your game design is particularly cryptic or technologically-themed, it might give a mistaken impression even to people who say "You're called Q4T? Cool!" and don't think twice about it.

But on the other hand, you didn't ask about that. You asked whether you would be costing yourself big money, whether you should listen to your friend who told you it was 'unprofessional' to go this route. And I say, the heck with that kind of thinking. I've never understood why people attribute so many bizarre superstitions to "future employers".

Unless your friend has concrete evidence of this being an issue-- even one person!-- you should ignore him.
 
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Chris Gray
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Based on name alone, I would (for whatever reason) be less likely to buy a game made by Q4T than Jon Chambers. If your nickname was McLovin or Cool Slice, would we be having this conversation? Just because your nickname is a bit more obscure doesn't make it a better idea to use as your publication name.
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Derry Salewski
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That sounds stupid. People buy plenty of things that sound stupid, though, so do whatever you want.
 
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Jon Chambers
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Not planning on selling the game on name alone, because let's face it, the name on the box could be "Some Guy Who Is Clearly Bad At Making Board Games" and it probably won't sway you either way. You may mumble "what a douchebag" as you continue your predetermined decision to buy the game or not. You may even claim that the choice of name is exactly why you chose to play it or not, but if you are truly honest with yourself, you were going to do the same thing regardless of what name was on it.

The main point is to get people to remember what games I've made in the past. Ever seen a Yahoo Serious film? You know exactly what you're in for when the movie star is Yahoo Serious. You know it can't be some small Indie flick, because you know he's been in movies before.

If, by contrast, a movie stars Bill Murray, often people who aren't as big on films may say, "Who?" Of the two, Bill Murray is FAR more accomplished as an actor, but I'll bet he had to work a lot harder to be remembered.

Yahoo Serious only had to make one film for everyone to say, "I know him! Let me describe his past work to you. You are in for a well paced light comedy treat!"

That said, one thing I am won over on is being Jon Q4T Chambers in the rulebook but Q4T on the box.

Q4T right now means nothing. It's my job to make it mean "High quality well tested games". It doesn't have that meaning yet, but once I release my first game, it will.
 
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Jake Staines
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Jonydude wrote:
Ever seen a Yahoo Serious film? You know exactly what you're in for when the movie star is Yahoo Serious. You know it can't be some small Indie flick, because you know he's been in movies before.

If, by contrast, a movie stars Bill Murray, often people who aren't as big on films may say, "Who?"


I... I think this is probably an Australian thing.
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Christopher Dearlove
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If I designed a board game, it would get my name on it. Unusual enough, and not a minus point. There might even be a very few people who recognised it.

If I wrote a thriller, or a crime (*) novel (not likely) I'd go down the pseudonym line - not really a thriller writer name mine. My middle name and my mother's maiden name on the other hand would work very well (my father's name instead of my middle name almost as well). No, I'm not telling you what they are as I might have used them in some security question somewhere (though I hope not, that's not a good practice).

(*) Here in the UK we call them crime novels. Bookshops have big sections labelled crime. I know (I've visited often enough) that in the US that's labelled the mystery section. Despite that while mystery is a factor in many of them, not all, while crime is a factor in just about all of them. (Actually, there are a small number of Sherlock Holmes stories in which no crime was committed, and probably a few others. Nowadays it's almost entirely murders.)
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Bichatse wrote:
Jonydude wrote:
Ever seen a Yahoo Serious film? You know exactly what you're in for when the movie star is Yahoo Serious. You know it can't be some small Indie flick, because you know he's been in movies before.

If, by contrast, a movie stars Bill Murray, often people who aren't as big on films may say, "Who?"


I... I think this is probably an Australian thing.


Young Einstein (A Serious Film) but that's about it from my memory. While Bill Murray is a big name. There are bigger, and he's slipped from his peak position. But I suspect he'd find it easier to get a table at a booked solid restaurant than Mr. Serious.

(The biggest star in the world based on recent box office is Dwayne Johnson. I suspect that would get a lot of Who? responses. To not get a substantial number of Who? results you'd have to be someone like Marilyn Monroe, and not that many others.)
 
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Jon Chambers
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The point is not who he's more memorable than. The point is that under any other name, he's forgettable at best.
 
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Jake Staines
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Jonydude wrote:
The point is not who he's more memorable than. The point is that under any other name, he's forgettable at best.


The point is also that I had to go and look "Yahoo Serious" up on Wikipedia to find out whether or not you had made it up to put alongside a famous and recognisable name as a ridiculous example because surely nobody would give themselves such a stupid name on purpose?
 
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John Breckenridge
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If the game were something modern and urban I could see printing Q4T on the box in the style of a graffiti tag as appropriate. But you'd probably need to make sure that someone who legally exists holds the copyright.
 
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Mike
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Disregard every suggestion in this thread and go by "Max Powers".
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Allison Macrae
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Bichatse wrote:
Jonydude wrote:
The point is not who he's more memorable than. The point is that under any other name, he's forgettable at best.


The point is also that I had to go and look "Yahoo Serious" up on Wikipedia to find out whether or not you had made it up to put alongside a famous and recognisable name as a ridiculous example because surely nobody would give themselves such a stupid name on purpose?


Definitely an Australian thing. I didn't even think to use Wikipedia until you mentioned it, I just sort of assumed it was made up.
 
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