Vesa’s post last week about hiding behind pseudonyms got me thinking about my ‘Internet name’, Balakov, and how it came about. I’ve never hidden behind that moniker, I think I’ve always wanted to associate my photography with myself (hence my website being mikestimpson.com), but sometimes online accounts require an explicit user name, and for those, I use Balakov.
Maybe you’ll indulge me a little story that has very little to do with photography or toys, but late 20th Century online computer games and World Cup football underdogs.
Way back in 1998 I started playing an online role playing video game called Everquest. It was massively popular at the time (it’s still going!), and the first 3D video game where you could play along with thousands of other players at the same time. The trouble with playing a game that had so many players was finding a unique character name. Every possible mangling of popular fictional characters’ names was taken, so I decided on an alternative approach.
Now I don’t really follow association football, but I do remember being enthralled by the 1994 World Cup where underdogs Bulgaria stormed through to the quarter finals. Those exotic player names were still in my head, Hristo Stoichkov, Borislav Mihaylov, and stoic midfielder Krasimir Balakov, amongst others.
Versions of those names became my go-to names for characters in games from then on. There wasn’t a single time that one of those names was being used by someone else, and because of that uniqueness, I started using the names for other Internet accounts, including my first Flickr account.
So that’s how my Internet name was born, and it’s now expanded from Flickr to a lot more online accounts. If you’re reading this Mr. Balakov, I do apologise for filling your Google search results with LEGO photos.