I am not referring to pencil-and-paper RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons or live-action RPGs.

In most role-playing games, I use the default names for the characters the first time through the game. Some RPGs, however, do not provide a default name. These include Mother (aka Earthbound Zero), Harvest Moon, and Secret of Mana. By extension, these also include any console or PC game where you can name your save file.

Problem: The name doesn't fit. For example, Sephiroth has nine letters, and DOS-influenced games only allow eight. (Thank you Square for not submitting to Microsoft.)

What they sometimes do (as evidenced by Chrono Trigger's main character being named "Crono" and by Final Fantasy 1) is pick a number of letters (sometimes four or five) suitable for a Japanese name. Japanese names take fewer letters because each Kana letter represents one syllable. For example, Crono's name is Ku-ro-no, three Kana letters. The developer's excuse is that changing the maximum length of the player's name would require re-engineering much of the engine, especially the save system.

Shame on you Nintendo for restricting player names to so few characters. Even more shame on you Microsoft for setting such a bad example. It just takes the fun out of the game.