There are more than 6 million worldwide subscribers to World of Warcraft (WOW), the swords and sorcery Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG). Several times a day, Google leads some of these folks to my site looking for names for their dwarf characters. I happen to have the only dwarf among these 6 million players named Sterkfontein, and I know this because of a nifty feature called The Armory, where you can look up any character by name. Either ol' Sterk is just one of a kind and accepts no substitutes, or the name is too esoteric to be popular among the non-Afrikaans-speaking, non-paleontological-oriented sector of the gaming community.
In any case, this has given me an idea. Forget Zogby, forget fund-raising prowess; the real test of a candidate's popularity is how many times his or her name is adopted by someone's dwarf warrior or orc shaman in the WOW multiverse. Thus I have queried the names of most of the presidential candidates for the 2008 elections in the United States.
There are 100 gnomes, undead, blood elves, tauren, humans, draenei, night elves, trolls, orcs and dwarves hacking and slashing their way to glory on World of Warcraft servers worldwide with some variant of this name. However, there are also 86 Obamas and 14 Barakobamas, which means that the Senator from Illinois leads the pack of declared Democratic contenders. There is a fighting guild named "Hillary Clinton for Presi" but no character that uses that name. There are 67 Clintons but it is unclear how many of those are named for her husband (the same goes for George Bush and his father, with 37 names). Bill Clinton alone gets 3 names, and Kucinich gets 1. Mickey Mouse out-polls them both, with 8.
On the Republican side, the winner is...
Reagan, with 251.
Even if some of these were misspellings by otherwise literate English majors trying to reference King Lear's daughter Regan (83 times), that still blows the rest of the field out of the water. John McCain has 32, but that won't take down Algore/Obama. The fact is, real life Republican candidates do not have the requisite whimsical, ironic, or blood-curdling qualities that gamers look for when naming their characters. I mean, the name Idi Amin appears 18 times, while Rudy Giuliani has 8, Mitt Romney only 5.
No, if the Republicans want a candidate who can compete toe to toe with virtual dragons and legions of zombies, this nonscientific poll suggests they would do better running Condoleeza (43), Peeweeherman (63) or Cheney (95). Yes, the Veep may have real-world approval ratings somewhere around Fidel Castro's, but he is still a player in the World of Warcraft.
In fact, to beat the Algore/Obama alliance; Mr. "Secure and Undisclosed"; or the late, "Great Communicator", one has to turn to the world of fantasy to find a more popular candidate. From the whole field of "Lord of the Rings" inspired names in use in the World of Warcraft, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you an elf for our times, the one and only...
There are no characters, however, named "orlandobloom".