Over at Kill Ten Rats, Oz has a classic post regarding the importance of our virtual identity. In MMOs, the single most defining characteristic of your avatar is your chosen name. Thus, the importance of being 'Blaznarat' as he says.
At character selection, gamers make many decision that will have a lasting impact on our role in the virtual society that we have chosen to inhabit. We can be male or female, gnome or elf, brown hair or black... No matter what choices you make in customization, however, you will still be just another brown-haired elf maiden, in a sea of elves. Thus it is the naming convention that allows us to define and hone our virtual selves.
MMOs are built and sustained on the community that develops and thus remains loyal subscribers despite any number of reasons why they should have moved on. Take Ultima Online for example. They are approaching ten years, and despite inferior mechanics, outdated graphics and a host of newer options in the marketplace, their faithful continue to log every day. It was not the choice to be female, or elf that kept Nightshade playing this long, but rather the virtual person that Nightshade has become, and the friends she has made.
So what the hell is a cyndre, you ask? Well, Cinder was a name I used for many of my D20 characters back in the day, and when I joined the grandpappy of MMOs, Neverwinter Nights back on pay-to-play AOL, my beloved name, the very spirit of who I was in my fantasy life, was taken...
Cyndre was born that day, and I have never had to race against a host of others to be Cinder, Blade, Ghost or any other iteration of oh so sought after, leet identities. I don't have to worry that my friends from UO would see my name on their new EQ server, years later and wonder if the asshole PKing the newb, was the same Cinder they knew, or later still, if I was the clown spamming /1 in Elwynn Forest who they hadn't seen since we uninstalled Norrath.
I don't need to be leet, I just want to be me.