So today I’d like to talk geeky pet names. I don’t mean those kind of between lovers pet-names, like when secretly call your other half “Lord Snugatron” or something (I just made that one up by the way; B and I do have our fair share of cutesy names for each other but we’ve never gone quite that far, honestly). No, I’m talking about geek-inspired names for any furry, feathered or scaly friends you may have in your life – your pets. For example, I don’t know what percentage of cats owned by Transformers fans are called Ravage, but I’m guessing it’s pretty high.
B and I have never
owned been owned by a cat before although it’s something we are looking in to, and that we’d like to do in the future. There is probably a non-zero chance of any future Chez AddAltMode moggy being called Ravage. Currently, however, we’re fancy rat owners as we have been for the last ten years or so. Rats have a bad reputation but they’re actually wonderful pets: clean (they use a litter tray); intelligent (they can work out little puzzles and know their names – some even come when called); genuinely interested in interacting with us; and every one is an individual. We’ve had a lot of wonderful little rat friends and ratty moments over the years. The downside of rat keeping is the fact that although these plucky little creatures have great personalities big enough to rival those of any dog, they don’t have similarly large life spans. Two to three years is a decent innings for a rat; it’s not a long time. As they are social animals that should not be kept in less than pairs and thrive in larger groups, that adds up to a lot of goodbyes over the years – especially since B and I have taken in quite a few rescue/shelter rats who often have health problems to begin with. I’ll always love rats but part of me is quite looking forward to owning a pet who may be part of our family for more than a couple of years.
Still, this isn’t meant to be a maudlin post. Naming pets is always fun, and a nice thing about having owned a lot of rats over the years is that we’ve had the chance to choose quite a lot of names. Being geeks (you might have noticed) this has meant that quite a few of our past and current rat buddies have ended up with names of quite a geeky persuasion. Reflecting back on them now has made me realise that our past rat name choices also provide quite an accurate record of what games etc we were into at the time….
Goomba (Super Mario games)
We got our first pair of rats from a pet shop in 2005. They were brothers called Bramley (non geek name alert, but just because I liked the name) and Goomba (because we were playing a lot of Mario games at the time, particularly Super Mario RPG). This was just before we got our Wii console and we were playing a lot of Nintendo classics on emulators. Goomba was white rather than brown but he lived up to his name because he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. I said above that rats are intelligent, and they are, but just like us humans – some are more intelligent than others. Goomba also had a habit of following us round the flat if when we let him out of the cage, fortunately he never got stomped like his pixellated namesake but we had to be careful where we walked as he certainly liked getting under foot.
Tycho & Gabe (Penny Arcade)
I really enjoyed the Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness games. The combat mechanic in the first two games was a bit clunky but the overall style, humour and plotline more than compensated for this. I was playing these games a lot when a call went out on an online rat forum about some local rat babies looking for a home. A pregnant doe had been rescued from a man who bred rats for snake food; the mother and her 4 female kittens had homes lined up but the 2 baby boys were still in need. So that’s how two handsome Siamese bucks came into our lives, and how they ended up being called Tycho and Gabe. Tycho was very twitchy and alert, always burrowing or climbing, while Gabe was more laidback and cuddly, so they didn’t really match the personality of the Penny Arcade gents, either in the steampunkish games or in the webcomics. But they were lucky boys: lucky to be alive in the first place seeing as they very nearly began and ended their lives inside a snake. Tycho from Penny Arcade has said many times how he feels lucky to have managed to made a career doing something he loves – that is, playing and talking about games – so maybe they have luck in common at least.
Radigan & Tavish (Team Fortress 2)
There’s about a year of my life that I basically lost to playing TF2. To commemorate this period I have a large collection of virtual hats somewhere in my Steam Inventory, I still have some of the pieces from one of the earliest cosplay projects I worked on (me as Fem-Engineer, B as the Heavy), and for a couple of years I had rats called Radigan and Tavish. These two were our only pedigree rats (from a stud in Cheltenham); they came with a fancy family tree diagram and they grew to be about twice the size of any other rats we’d had. Seriously, they were huge. Tavish DeGroot, is of course, the full name of TF2‘s Demoman. Tavish rat had a full set of eyes, but he was – like his bomb-toting namesake – an awesome black guy. Radigan Conagher is from the TF2 comics. He’s the grandfather of the Engineer from the games, and he has his own shade of paint named after him “Radigan Conagher Brown” which was pretty much the same shade as our Radigan. Radigan was an attention seeker who tended to dominate his cagemates; he never built any sentries or dispensers though, which was probably for the best.
Atlas & Wheatley (Portal 2)
Ah, Portal 2, what a game! B and I both loved, loved, loved this game, so it’s no surprise we looked to it for rat name inspiration. Atlas and P-Body would have been a more appropriate pair of names, but I always think of P-Body as a female robot and we needed two male names for this pair of brothers who we adopted from our local animal shelter, so Atlas and Wheatley it was. Maybe naming a rat after a villain wasn’t such a smart move, but there’s actually a building called “Wheatley House” very near to our local Rescue Centre so it just seemed like it had to be. Plus, the two boys had come into the centre with the far from awesome names Caspar and Clifford (although they didn’t recognise these names) so they really needed renaming, and fast! Atlas was a sweet and gentle boy who needed a lot of coaxing to build his confidence. By contrast, Wheatley was a bit of a trouble-maker – but always in an amusing and slightly clueless way – such as starting a play-fight with the pedigree rats twice his size (see above) and then seeming surprised when he got his arse kicked – so perhaps nominative determinism was at work there.
Rumble and Frenzy (Transformers)
Which brings us to the present, and our current lovable troublemakers, Rumble and Frenzy, named of course after Soundwave’s deployers. We didn’t learn our lesson about not naming ratties after bad guys! Frenzy is
red champagne and Rumble is blue white and grey. These two came from a local breeder in our hometown and they are currently about a year and half old. B was a huge Transformers fan as a kid but then life and Uni and stuff got in the way. He got back into the franchise when he started playing War for Cybertron on Steam, which he only bought for nostalgia’s sake. Nostalgia, it’s a dangerous thing kids, and a gateway drug to acquiring shelves and shelves of plastic crack. Somehow I got suckered in too and now, well, we only encourage each other: we’re running this blog, cosplaying robots, we own Rumble and Frenzy and I wouldn’t change a single damn thing. Rumble is the most hyperactive rat we’ve ever owned: he’s in to everything, would play outside the cage 24/7 given the chance (even though his cage is huge) and he’s very intelligent. Frenzy is more cautious except when I have a mug of hot chocolate because his favourite thing in the world is having a lick of chocolately fingers! Neither have pile-drivers fortunately, although I’d be lying if I claimed we don’t regularly say “Rumble Deploy! Frenzy Deploy!” when getting them out of their cage.
So that’s it, a potted history of my gaming career via the medium of rodent names. Do you have any pets with geeky names? Do leave a comment and tell us all about them! If you want to ‘fess up to calling your other half “Lord Snugatron” do leave a comment and tell the world about that too! 😉