I’m not just a clown, I’m the entire circus. A week after I called him Genshin‘s most annoying character, Scaramouche’s storyline crushed my heart into itty-bitty pieces and caused me to spend gacha currency on him. ever since Genshin launched two years ago, players have been grumbling nonstop that the dialogue choices in the story “didn’t mean anything.” Now it finally does, and I agonized over it last night for several hours. This was probably the most difficult choice that I’ve made in any video game this year.
Scaramouche is a recurring villain who’s been a pain in the ass since his debut back in November 2020. He always had a rude personality, but he first earned my ire for helping to create weapons that killed their unknowing widowers. Several months later, I found that he was using a stolen divine object to remake himself as a god. Again, I understand this is all from a textbook villain arc, but what really irritated me was his superior attitude. He’s an artificial puppet who feels abandoned by his creator, but that doesn’t really excuse his terrible personality. Or his desire to become a god-tyrant.
The latest main story quest attempts to redeem him. After we defeated his god form in the last patch, he became an assistant to the God of Wisdom. She showed him a traumatic memory from his past that proved his loved ones hadn’t betrayed him. The revelation was so shocking that Scaramouche tried to erase himself from reality using a fantasy supercomputer. It worked, sort of. The world created another version of him to replace the one that disappeared in this new timeline. That’s the one that you pull in the character gacha. More importantly, you get to give him a new name. This name will appear in all cutscenes and interface text. While this is normal for a game like Pokemonbeing able to rename playable characters is a first for any gacha character that I know of.
Here’s the catch, though: The new guy won’t just accept any name. Players report that you can’t give him his old name. You also can’t name him after the mother who “abandoned” him. He rejects any names based on his former coworkers, since they had abused and exploited him. Hey has a custom response to each rejected name, which some have pointed out is similar to the naming mechanic in Undertale. If you decide to give him your own name, he express approval. The game will allow you to rename him in the future, but warns that he can only be done a limited number of times. The developers really want you to be thoughtful about naming the character and treat it as seriously as names deserve.
I was pleasantly surprised by the process, because naming video game characters can often be a way of stripping agency from them. It’s becoming capable to give the rival a humiliating name in pokemon red and Blue. But by demonstrating clear preferences against specific names, the Scaramouche clone feels more like a “real” person to me. Giving him a name didn’t just feel like a matter of personal aesthetics. It felt like I was fulfilling a specific emotional need that he had been denied for so long. Despite all of this, you can still name him bootyshaker69 gold biggestchungus. One popular name that has swept through the fandom is “baby girl.”
Thankfully, a lot of people are more thoughtful about it. Some people are making lists of potential names like they’re a first time parent. One fan even created a whole Google Survey to ask other players about which name they had picked. Others are looking up the meanings of certain Japanese names, since his homeland is based on Japan. Honestly, this is just such an incredible gameplay experience. I can’t think of any other artistic medium that could compel players to put so much effort into simulating the experience of choosing someone’s name. In choice-centric games, I’m used to making decisions about which NPCs live and which ones die. This one took me on an emotional decision making process that felt exclusively personal.
I was met with a conundrum. Names are new beginnings. It’s impossible to use names to describe the past or present. So I gave him a name that represented my hopes for his future. Shohei (soar, even/flat) seemed to fit his new wind-based Anemo element. And just like his mother, I also wanted to give Shohei some freedom and agency—but without the tragedy that Scaramouche experienced. His previous incarnation felt abandoned while he wandered the world. Wherever Shohei goes in his new life, I hope he goes with purpose.