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In Praise of Black Chicken Studios's Naming: Sima


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I really like the fact that Black Chicken Studios has given Sima Venesico, a mysterious, manipulative student of unknown origins, the name Sima. This name is appropriate for her for three reasons.

1. Its Lack of Definite Origin: Sima is a Chinese, Sanskrit, and Persian name. Since Sima Venesico is of uncertain origins as far as the player knows, this name with multiple possible origins is appropriate.

2. Its Meanings, which are All Appropriate to Sima Venesico: The name Sima has three meanings.

a. In Chinese Sima means Controller of Horses, and Sima Venesico is very interested, some might think dangerously interested, in controlling people even when they have been provoked by her - in a way similar to the attitude, some might say, that a a horse-controller feels over horses.

b. In Persian, Sima means face or visage - and Sima Venesico certainly has a pretty and distinctive face, which she uses to her advantage in the game. But just as a person should not be assessed by the wise based solely upon his or her face, so Sima Venesico has a mysterious and much deeper background and set of goals than stereotypes about Hedi College and girls in general might suggest.

c. In Sanskrit, Sima means boundary - and following Sima Venesico's adventures involves her leading the player character to the boundary of legal and accepted actions and knowledge - and over these boundaries.

Now that these meanings have been set out, aspects of Sima Venesico's character become more relevant and interesting.

There is a random event in which Sima Venesico claims to be trying to hide a piece of jewelry from her evil uncle. She may be lying or may not...but the Sima Clan of 3rd and 4th century CE China was notorious for its intrafamilial warfare (most notoriously the Eight Kings' Disorder - commonly translated as the War of the Eight Princes). The Sima Clan also usurped power through trickery and deceit and was ruthless in maintaining its grip upon this power - which is a fair way, it seems to me, of describing Sima Venesico within Y1 - and I and @Metis have in our Y2 adventures for her taken those traits and run with them.

If Sima Venesico be connected more with the Indian associations of the name Sima, another suggestion arises from her name. During the medieval and Renaissance periods of European history that serve as the inspiration for Academagia (not that I am accusing it of being a generic medieval fantasy world!), the closest contact that most Europeans had with Indians was with Romani people (who are insultingly called Gypsies by the ignorant). Many Romani, due to their nomadic life-style, deep prejudice against them (even unto being executed under the laws of England for the "crime" of being a Romani person), and exotic origins to many Europeans, got involved in disreputable activities such as fortune-telling, entertaining, and most notoriously crime. Sima Vensico, if she be from the Cyvian equivalent of India, could be fulfilling a similar role. Certainly, her training as an actress would fit into the category of a mere entertainer. That having been said, I am confident that Black Chicken Studios, if it go this route, will not fall into racist tropes. Its writers have avoided portraying Malthezar Mhadi in a way that is obviously racist (although others may have different opinions), and goblins are portrayed as fulfilling multiple roles, some of which are law-abiding, during Y1.

A question for @Legate of Mineta: Did the team put as much thought into Sima's name as I have?

So, any thoughts?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would like to point out that Sima is a surname in Chinese, so this is likely a more Sanskrit or Persian naming used as a first name. "Sima Yi" is "Sima Yi" in Dynasty Warrior or misc. Three Kingdoms game because those games usually follow the surname, first name format, the norm of Chinese -- if people were to have English name, we will make it like "Daniel Sima Yi" or with a two characters Chinese first name with spacing between them, is something like "Janice Sima Yi Xing". Ironically, the Sima family is more famous as the late emerging force(who raised from inside the infamous Wei and successfully coup-ed against the Cao family) and eventual winner of the Three Kingdoms era than the War of the Eight Princes and latter stuffs. I used to absolutely hate them because I was a Shu fanboy in my youth.

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@goliath764: I am aware of the Chinese naming conventions, but my point remains that Sima is a name in Chinese, albeit a family name. Besides, Sima is a name that is much easier to analyze than Venesico.

I found that Eight Kings' Disturbance was a fascinating example of the fall of an empire due to internal strife causing external threats (from non-Chinese ethnicities), but we all have our favourite periods of history, I suppose.

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Sure, I am up to creative usage of surname as first name as well so it's no big deal. I just personally gives it very low chance of that being the case here compared to the Persian and Sanskrit's.

Eight Kings' Disturbance is strangely super unpopular. I am pretty sure my high school Chinese History book doesn't even give that period more than 10 pages.

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