As a person who places huge amounts of value in personal individuality, I put a lot of value in my online identity. My the name I use online “Acegikmo” dates back to my highschool days where I noticed the pattern when being told to “just do the questions in the left hand column” in maths class. We originally gave the name to a giant Godzilla like monster which featured in powerpoint animations we made. Soon after I began using it as an online alias because of it’s uniqueness. I was the only one using that string of characters and it was a single word as opposed to everyone else’s aliases which were multiple words or combinations of letters and numbers. The complete uniqueness of the name was a major reason behind my using it, along with my growing association with it. I have friends that use “Ace” as a nickname for me in the flesh.
This was all brilliant for several years until I googled myself to find an account I’d lost and discovered my name in the memberlist of a trackmania forum. I’d never played trackmania for more than five minutes and had no reason at all to have signed up to such a forum, so I checked it out and discovered someone else was using the name. I was devastated and emailed the person immediately. They responded with something akin to “I don’t see what the problem is, we don’t use the same communities so we can both continue to use the name.”

I wasn’t very happy with this, but I rolled with it, I was the more prolific Acegikmo at the time anyway, what did I have to worry about. Some time later I found that “Acegikmo” was registered to someone else on the Playstation Network and Steam, I used “Acegikmo313” as my username and then changed my display name to “Acegikmo.” The two Acegikmos were approaching one another and beginning to collide, but I let it lie. It wasn’t that much of a drama, I was just pissed that someone else had a similar name to me.

I’d also found out that my actual name, “Ashton McAllan” wasn’t unique either. Even though my last name’s particular spelling is quite rare, and my first name is by no means common, a second cousin of some kind was named “Ashton McAllan” by pure chance. This particularly cooked my bacon.
My obession with individuality is perhaps a little over the top, but it’s not unreasonable. Nearly everyone fears death and attempts to achieve immortality by leaving their mark on the world, often by raising children, working on their careers or contributing to some kind of global achievement, like curing a disease. My delusion is that if I am a person that is unique, and that uniqueness is conceptually bold, then at least my existance will have been notable. I may be forgotten as the world grows old, but at least I won’t be forgotten in the present like so many others are.

Recently I discovered that the other Acegikmo’s endeavours in the realm of mapmaking for the game Team Fortress 2 (a game I play quite a lot) had been successful enough to be published by valve in an official release. The other Acegikmo had made it to the big time. Whenever I logged on to TF2, I’d get “Hey are you the map guy?” a google of my name returns more hits on him than on me.

My brain can’t handle this. I need my own name. I need a unique identifier that when people read it they think of me. It’s probably vain, but I don’t care, it’s a driving force and it stops me from doing nothing. I am thus left with three options:

The first option is to grin and bear it, the course of action first suggested by the other Acegikmo. This isn’t really an option for me. A few people have suggested it, but they don’t seem to understand why it’s an issue at all. Those that seem to think the only issues are practical ones that aren’t at the moment causing much trouble, are completely missing the issue of identity and lose a little respect from me.

The second option is revenge. I make myself more well known, register for more services, gain more publicity than the other Acegikmo. Force him to back down. This appealed to me for a while, I even conisdered paying to trademark the name as intellectual property of some kind. I have, however, realised this is futile because I haven’t achieved anything as impressive as him, and I’m not about to. Registering the name in a whole bunch of other services just makes me look petty. What’s more, he’s not done anything wrong. Yes I had the name first, but he didn’t know that when he started using it, and I’m happy for him and his achievements, attacking him for my own satisfaction would actually make me feel guilty.

The last option is to change my name. Everyone I’ve spoken to seems to think this is a bad idea and suggests one of the first two options, but as I ponder the issue, this seems more and more like the wisest course of action. The problem is the longer I delay the change, the harder it is. Having put so much effort in to loading the word Acegikmo with own imagery, it almost feels like leaving those part of me behind with the name. I have to realise that I can load any new name with myself, it will just take a little time. The other main issue is actually finding the new name. There are several things I like about “Acegikmo” which would have to be the same for any new name, for backwards compatability.

Firstly the shortening needs to be “Ace”, people are used to me as Ace, and I’m not about to drop that.

Secondly it needs to be meaningless. The reason I was successful in loading the word Acegikmo with myself is that it has no other meaning to get in the way, like decorating and empty house instead of a furnished one.

Thirdly it has to be aesthetically pleasing. Initially Acegikmo seems mismatched and aesthetially wrong, but it’s use of soft letters C, G, and M which are more common amongst fantasy names in the Tolkien tradition, and hard, letters such as K and the placing of the aforementioned G along with the vowel ending O, which are more sutied to the “hacker” tradition, created a postmodern duality that I identify with. I’m also used to the letter height arrangement, which is a key identifier in word recognition.

Lastly the name needs to be unique. Properly unique. The reason the last name was compromised was because it was a predictable pattern, anyone could choose to skip letters in the alphabet, it was only really a matter of time. This time I’m going to use a sequence that is different to the point that I should be the ONLY thing that shows up when googling it. I will have my word, and it will be mine alone.

So now I’m stuck considering names. Several people have suggested simply extending Acegikmo, such as my previously used Acegikmo313, but I liked not having the numbers, numbers suggest forced uniqueness, whereas as single word seems natural. The addition of letters to the end, rather than numbers, spoils the aesthetics, and often meaninglessness of the name, which also causes my disinclination.

If I can get it to work, I’d like to just switch up the last three letters. Acengitur/Acegirtun/etc. have been playing on my mind as an anagram of “Ace Turing”, a hidden nod to one of my all time heroes.

I’ll have to keep pondering. If you’ve any inspired ideas, do tell me. This isn’t as easy as one would think and I could do with the help.

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