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E3 2012: The problem with Stephen Totilo’s “Gamertag” request

So I just wrote “Remembering your Friends ID — what a concept” and in that article (you can read it here) I mention how I loved the idea Totilo (of Kotaku) was pitching — to Microsoft specifically but in my opinion should be implemented on all platforms which is the ablilty to change your friends Gamertag as you see fit (I assume to remember your friends better).

Now in Totilo’s case he wants to change names, I however want to add to existing names. I also mentioned (in the article) that I don’t know why this concept didn’t cross my mind already — as I ran into issues of befriending people and not remembering how I met them — in some cases even if I know them in my personal life, but actually I was wrong. I already did think of this idea but now I remember why it quickly got dismissed, I already worked the idea all the way through my head  and deemed that the implementation may be to messy, at least for this generation.

The Problem

I came to the conclusion that either it wouldn’t work period or Sony and Microsoft would have to re-root the whole system and not only that, everybody from Publishers to Developers would probably have to all be on board to make this work.

Now Totilo did not specify whether he wanted this for interface purposes only or if he wanted to apply a universal concept — like if he had multiplayer in mind. If it is just for Interface purposes that may work  but if your talking multiplayer that’s where it could get tricky.

How would it work? Do you see the name you chose for them in multiplayer and everybody else playing see’s the name the player originally chose for themselves? Like for instance you changed alienkiller888 to John, now do you see when your playing, let’s say Gears of War, John on your screen and everybody else would see alienkiller888? That could get really messy.

And what about for strategy purposes? You you may confuse others or confuse yourself. What if your calling your friend by John and not what he “tagged” himself to be while trying to strategize with a team of eight, so you say something like “John, you take the door” and the rest of the team replies “Huh? Who’s John?” of course because they’re seeing him as alienkiller888. So your reply to that would be no prooooblem! “I’ll just refer back to the name he gave himself” right? Not so fast. You now have known him to be John so long you forgot his tag used to be alienkiller888, you now can’t even clarify (to your teammates) who John is. And that’s way to many steps to be taking when people are constantly trying to take your head off — and that’s just if one person did it. That’s why I say adding to the name would be more effective so it reads (John)alienkiller888.

But let’s say that it could be worked out to make this even close to possible it may not — for Microsoft or Sony be as simple as a flip of the switch and Developers would  probably have to implement that “DNA” structure into their system as well to accommodate such a feature.

In conclusion it just seems Totilo’s request (at least for this generation) could never pass all the check marks, my idea may have a fighting chance but still far fetched. At the end of the day his idea may just be restricted to the Xbox Live Interface or in my case the XMB, it may mean it could never be universal it would always have to be personal.

What do you think of Totilo’s idea? Think it has a fighting chance to be realized? CCU wants to hear from you.


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  1. Why not just have it as a tag you can add on your system’s friend list.
    Their nickname remains the same and visible normally throughout games and so on but gives you the chance to double check a kind of note and recall “oh right, that nickname is Sam”

    I think you’re looking way too far into this and it’s a simple thing to implement.

    • Exactly, that’s a good idea it goes along with my idea I think the add-to-name is more functional than just flat out changing the name, especially for multiplayer.

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