I’ve never posted something this personal, and have never really taken off my mask. Well, here goes: My name is John.
As I move closer to publishing my own game, I’m on a collision course with my pseudonym, Roman Farraday. The name has been a staple (maybe even an icon?) of the Epic Duels community since 2003, and has even been such a subject of mystery that it led to this strange poll on the old Yahoo! groups, “Is Roman Farraday really Roman?”
I’ve even created accounts on Boardgamegeek, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other places using the name. In more recent years, I’ve continued to use it, but have been streamlining it to “Roman F”. Going forward though, outside of Epic Duels and BGG (where I’ve had an account since 2004), I’m going to be using my own name, and it is not Roman or Farraday.
So where did I get this name “Roman Farraday” anyways?
Star Wars Epic Duels came out in 2002. Earlier that same year, I was involved in a project with DreamWorks animation, a pitch for an animated movie about a secret agent penguin, in a world where penguins have always been, secretly, the most intelligent and technologically advanced species on the planet. You ever hear the phrase “the tip of the iceberg?” Penguins are an advanced species, and beneath the iceberg tips are where they live in cities and develop advanced technology — hidden away from us humans, because they don’t want us to know. Our story centers on Roman Farraday, a “James Bond” of penguins, who swills shrimp cocktails, bets clam at the baccarat table, and fights for the freedom of the planet. He takes on a Magneto-type of penguin with plans to subjugate humanity and dominate the world for penguins.
https://variety.com/2002/film/news/d-works-fields-farraday-1117871504/ (offsite link to the Variety press release about the film, includes naming me as involved in the project)
Though I worked closely with writers Joe Piscatella and Craig Williams on the pitch and later the script, I never asked them where they came up with this name. Roman is actually an eastern European type of name, popular in Poland. Farraday should actually be Faraday, and in a couple of places, I spelled it this way. This would have been before the TV Series Lost, where there is a character with the last name Faraday, so I’m not sure where they got it.
To make a long story short, the movie didn’t end up going forward at DreamWorks, though they used the animation they were developing and some parts of the script for other penguin movies that they made. Anyways, I got a new computer in 2003 and started getting into the internet through way of Fantasy Football and Yahoo! groups and such. The internet was more anonymous or pseudonymous back then. With the movie not moving forward, I took the name Roman Farraday for myself and started using it online. The name stuck and I’ve blogged with it ever since. It’s obviously how anyone who has played Epic Duels knows me. We used to email back and forth in the old “Jedi Council” groups, and newcomers would be surprised to see this guy named John on the emails.
So what has changed about the internet since 2003?
A great many things, but I say Facebook is the major force that changed the internet from being an anonymous place to one where you interact using your real name and identity. It definitely creates accountability for your words and actions. In places where people don’t use their real names, the behavior and rhetoric are often the filthiest. I’ve built up a profile of Roman, and it is my name enough to where I have always been accountable for my words as actions, but it is basically meaningless outside of Epic Duels. Furthermore, were I to keep using it, even as a pseudonym, I’m not sure I wouldn’t hear from DreamWorks about it. So, I’ll keep using it on the blog, on BGG, and in the Epic Duels community, but I’m winding down all of my other social media profiles using the name, and have been phasing my modest Twitter following over to the Geektopia Games account. Feel free to keep calling me “Roman” for as long as you like, but on Facebook I go by “John Lash”. Most people call me “John” (my wife, Dad and sister) or “Lash” (my friends) or “John Lash” (my mom).