Today in Mass Effect 3 I had the creepy pleasure(?) running into a character central to a mission called “Rilla” (or “Rila”, perhaps). She was some kind of alien… thing… who needed saving. So at some point all the people I was with were suddenly like “where’s Rilla?” “we’ve got to save Rilla!” “Help us save Rilla!” And it was really quite odd! “Rilla” being the name of my real-life wife.
It occurs to me that this hardly ever happens to me (or Rilla), because we have less-than-usual names. All you Jameses and Mikes and Sarahs and Janes out there must get it all the time. But on the other hand, if you have a more common name, maybe this doesn’t really influence you – you’re used to hearing your name in contexts other than it being your own. I am in no way used to that, nor hearing my wife’s name in any context other than it referring to: my wife. So when Rescue Rilla! kicked in in Mass Effect 3 I immediately paid more attention. I also worried a little about whether I was even going to be able to rescue Rilla in the context of the mission, and so on.
Of course, since the game-Rilla was a blue woman with tentacle hair, the fidelity did not, in fact, go much beyond the name itself. As such, it was really only during the initial flurry of invocations of the name (in the absence of the game-Rilla) that things felt weird – like a simultaneous pulling toward and away from the game world. Anyway, it was odd for a few moments.
Now you know.
Game Rilla did not survive, by the way. Trolley Problem Rilla didn’t either. Yikes!