The Parents Who Name Their Kids After Final Fantasy Characters

The people who fell for Final Fantasy in its glory years when it was huge on the NES, Super NES and then the PlayStation are now adults. They're having kids, and they're the kinds of people who just might name their daughter Aeris or their son Kain.

Baby Hana Aeris tries to sell us her flowers

Giving your kid the name of a Final Fantasy character is a way to establish tradition, and legitimise a video game as a very real, crucial thing in a personal history. With everyone going Final Fantasy-crazy again thanks to the release of FF15, the chances of some new mum or dad naming their kid Prompto are now pretty high. Well, not that high. But I did find a few people who've started Final Fantasy families and talked about what the series means to them, and how they intend to share their passion with their kids.

Baby Kain and his parents, Nick and Nora

Nick, Father Of Kain

Nick was one of the few kids on Earth who played MMOs with his parents. At 15 he was running raids with his mum and dad. Their game of choice was Final Fantasy 11, the first entry into the series that was a purely multiplayer experience. One fateful night, a girl named Nora, who was about Nick's age, joined their group.

"We messaged a lot and spent plenty of time on voice chat for the events, but we also became part of each other's social groups within the game as well," he said. "Two years later, after many hours and tens of thousands of texts, we met for the first time for a Valentine's Day weekend vacation from school."

Nora had spent two years of her life becoming intimately familiar with a family from across the void. She wanted to see Nick, but also his parents who'd been helping her take down internet monsters throughout high school. They met. They had a great time. And Nora planned to move near them permanently for university.

Kain Highwind from Final Fantasy 4

Three years later, Nick and Nora got married. Their Final Fantasy 11 character names are inscribed on their rings. They still make time to play MMOs together daily, even while holding down jobs and taking care of a four-month old baby.

Nora had a family name she was set on if it was a girl. But the potential boy's name was all up to Nick. He started with Cid and was denied. That opened the discussion to other names related to video games close to their hearts. There was John from Halo, and Kain from Final Fantasy 4.

"When we found out our child was male, he was moving around on the ultrasound," says Nick. "I said he was jumping around like a Dragoon, and from then on the name was Kain."

Right now, Nick, Nora and Kain are all playing through Final Fantasy 15 together. Sometimes Nick sings Kain lullabies from Final Fantasy 13 as he drifts off to sleep. One day, Kain will sit by himself in front of a keyboard and mouse to kill monsters and claim victory with his parents and his grandparents. Three generations of Final Fantasy.

"Square Enix and Final Fantasy will continue to be part of my family life for the foreseeable future," he says. "I'm very excited to share it with him."

Vivi and her parents

Bryan, Father Of Vivi

Two decades ago, Bryan was standing in a Toys "R" Us, mouth agape, letting a demo version of Final Fantasy 7 light up every synapse in his brain. He had played Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo, but this was the first time he'd seen that style of Japanese RPG adapting to a fleshed-out 3D world.

"I had a paper route and was saving for a computer, but this completely redirected me," he told me. "I told my mum I was emptying my bank account by buying a PlayStation and Final Fantasy 7."

Bryan submerged himself into Gaia, soaking up all the beautiful graphical flourishes empowered by a futuristic machine like the PlayStation. As he got deeper, he found a kinship on a much more human level.

"I had no idea that a video game's story could be so gripping, no idea that I would actually grow fond of the characters themselves to the point that I almost viewed them like I would another person," he said.

The coup de gras, and the beginning of a bottomless fascination, was the vivid end of the flower girl Aerith. For years, death in video games was just another mechanic. Bryan had slain thousands of polygons without a single empathetic tug. But Aerith was different. Aerith was his friend. When done right, loss in a video game can feel more profound than in any other medium.

"After that scene, I saved as soon as I could and took a two or three day break," he said. "It was that moving."

Vivi from Final Fantasy 9

After Bryan finished Final Fantasy 7 he started saving his paper-route money for future entries in hopes that they might provide a similarly altering change in perception. FF8 was great, but not groundbreaking. He fell deeply for FF9, which is one of the more underrated games in the Final Fantasy oeuvre.

"I particularly loved the theme of FF9, the idea of not really knowing who you are and finding yourself along the way, which was definitely the case for the character of Vivi," says Bryan. "It really spoke to my teenage self. I think we were all trying to find out who we really were while fitting in where we could."

Bryan had been dating his future wife for 13 years. They met the first day of high school and got married last year. Video games were never a huge part of their relationship, but when she became pregnant with their future daughter, they were at a loss for a name. Three days before the girl was born, Bryan was driving home from work and Vivi, the loving, brave, occasionally clumsy black mage from Final Fantasy 9, popped into his head. "I knew that was her name. I just knew. But I also knew I would have to justify it with a real-world name, too," he said.

Bryan brainstormed names that started with Vs, and he came up with Violet. As soon as he arrived home, he walked up to his wife and said, "Her name is Violet."

"My wife smiled, and said, 'Yes it is.' I immediately had a huge grin on my face and told her, '...but I am calling her Vivi,'" he said.

On the birth certificate her official name is Violet, but everywhere else, she's Vivi. Bryan, now 32, makes sure to tell everyone he knows that she's named after a Final Fantasy character. In fact, he "counts it as a huge win".

Someday, when Vivi is a little older, Bryan intends to play through Final Fantasy 9 with her. He envisions it as a TV show or a storybook, but with a personalised moral.

"She'll realise that Vivi the character has the same name as her, and I imagine she'll ask," Bryan said. "I think I'll tell her that it's because it's one of my favourite characters in the story. And I will list the reasons of strength, compassion and empathy."

Mark and Hana Aeris

Mark, Father Of Hana Aeris

Mark, now 30, was mystified by those old Final Fantasy 7 commercials that aired in the late-'90s. They'd show the brunt of the PlayStation processing power, with every ridiculous and wonderful moment from the game paired with an orchestral score. Post-industrial motorbike races, screen-filling summons, Aerith sinking into a crystal pool like a cyberpunk Ophelia, Sephiroth brandishing a hilariously overcompensating sword. It was enchanting, enough for him to request a ride to his local video store to rent a copy of the ostensible prequel, Final Fantasy 6.

"I had never played an RPG before, so this was a mind-blowing experience for me," Mark said. "Video games could have stories! And characters you can fall in love with!"

Things were never the same. After Final Fantasy 6, Mark conquered Earthbound, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger and other earlier Final Fantasy games. In real life he was dealing with bullying and family problems, but his RPG party always had his back. Sometimes he wondered if it was healthy to sequester himself from reality. Maybe he was hiding from his trauma when he spent his time in a world where the only major problems were evil wizards and ill-conceived snowboarding mini-games. In retrospect, he considers all of that time well spent.

Aerith Gainsborough, from Final Fantasy 7

"I have all these treasured memories of really beloved stories and characters that are part of me in a way that you don't really get as an adult," he said. "You get a little more jaded, a little more critical, and it becomes difficult to fall in love with a story like you could when you were little. So I'm glad I have that."

Years later, Mark was caught in an endless cycle of World of Warcraft. During those adventures, he met a woman who was living in California. He was in Calgary. They were far apart, but they made it work. After a number of trips back and forth, they got married. A few years later, they were expecting a daughter.

The couple had a few names in mind, all carrying a certain degree of nerdiness. Misty from Pokemon was a top pick, but eventually they settled on Aeris for her middle name. (The character's name was spelled "Aerith" in later products, but was spelled "Aeris" in the original English FF7 release. Both spellings are now widely accepted.) Her first name is Hana, which is Japanese for flower, so it just made sense to christen her as a descendent of "everyone's favourite flower girl".

"I expect her to grow up playing video games with us, so I'm sure she'll learn [the connection] early on," Mark said. "When I was young playing these games, I remember how excited I was to share these stories and characters and experiences with other people. The prospect of sharing these things with her so that she can fall in love with them like I did makes me feel like a little kid again. It's one of the things I look forward to most. Later tonight, we have some Final Fantasy 15 to play as a family."

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Comments

    Calling your daughter Aeris seems like tempting fate.

      Thankfully you should get plenty of warning, starting with her bringing home some teen smart arse named Zack.

    A friend of mine gave his little one the middle name Zanarkand :)

    So nice to see a warm article like this amidst all the doom and gloom.

    Kain is a common name though, the only thing different is the spelling but it would be no different than all the people called Rebekkah of Aimee. The other girl will probably just go by Hana and well Vivi is more like a nickname than a name so congrats on the future therapy.

      Jesus, and I thought I was cynical.

    Theres nothing wrong or obvious with Vivi or Kain, though I like Aeris as a name more than Hana Aeris.
    Depends if you say the whole name I guess.

    Its when someone hands me their new child, Cloud Strife Jones or Sephiroth Tidus Wilson, that I would raise an eyebrow.

    My wife and I named our first child 'Raine'.
    I have been playing through ff8 with her recently over these school holidays, so you can imagine her surprise when we got to the start of disc two. "My name. That's my name, dad!" Haha...

    Last edited 01/01/17 7:01 pm

    My hubby and I named our first son Cloud 😄
    Remember how in Advent Children Cloud's pupils looked like kitty eyes sometimes? Our son was born with a condition named corectopia (Basically his pupils are not round) Anyway, his right pupil has that vertical shape, so cool! His name was ment to be 😊

    We have 4 kids and 3 are named from my 2 fav franchises.We have Aeris, Vincent, and we have a Link as well.

    Please don't do this. Your child is not a toy or a pet. They will have to live with this name for a long time, possibly for life (although I expect some of those given more egregious names will change them the minute they turn 18, if not sooner). And their name will affect how they bond with those of similar age and affect how people view them in the future. The only thing worse than having a video-game themed name is having other people think you changed your name, as an adult, to that of a video game character.

    "Well," you say, "you think that because you're a judgemental prick!". Actually no. As someone who loves video games, I don't have a problem with Vivi or Link. Vivi is even phonetically pleasing. Link is short and no different from, say, Mark or Kurt. But.... the world IS full of judgemental pricks. Always has been, ALWAYS will be (unless we perfect a neuro-modulator chip we can imbed in everyone at birth to prevent bad behaviour). Your child's teacher may be such a person - openly scornful of your child's odd name. Your child's classmates are likely to be as well. And employers - what of employers and interviewers? Your child signs up for a job and your employer says "Tali? What, like, from the game? Did you change your name to that?" And you have to akwardly explain "no, my parents named me that". They may or may not believe you. They may or may not consciously or subconsciously judge you for having your name.

    So what, you say - should we surpress all our individualities and become conformists? Why, you say, should we sacrifice our passions and our interests to satisify "The Man" in his corporate beige tower?!

    Okay - 1) You are not your child. Your interests do not necessarily reflect their interests. You love Mass Effect? Your child is 2 months old and can't pick up a controller. You love Final Fantasy? Does your child? They certainly didn't when you named them. They may not like video games at all, they may not like the ones you like.

    2) This world is cruel. Your child has to live in this world. You don't have to bear the negative ramifications of a strange name aside from a view raised eyebrows at thanksgiving or at a PTA conference. Your child does. And while a strange name might be a little thing to an adult, it can be a BIG thing to a child.

    3) If you're deadset on giving a video-game character's name to your child, how about you try this thought experiment first - whenever you met anyone new, say that your name is Kratos. Try that out for a month. See how you like it.

    "Bryan brainstormed names that started with Vs..." Never stumbling across "Vivienne?" (?!?) Heeheehee

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