My first online user name was Zinger. I used that one for a year or two after first starting to use the web at the age of ten. I can’t really say why I picked that name, other than to say I found it neat. The meaning of that word, “a striking or amusing or caustic remark,” seemed remarkably fitting as well. Still, some people kept thinking I had chosen my user name after some various commercial food products.
After that, I started using the user name Genre. I had just started taking French, and it seemed like a cool word to me, because it was used in both English and French. I was very much into science fiction and vociferously devoured sf books, and so my affinity for the “Genre of Science Fiction” also had an impact on my choice of online pseudonym. I don’t think I had yet heard genre used in many contexts outside of sf. Genre was the handle I used in my first online game, The Realm Online.
As I continued to play the game, however, “Genre” started to seem like not such a good idea after all. Everyone always seemed to assume I was French, and it turned out that “genre” was a common enough word. There’s no way a search for “Genre” on a search engine would ever turn me up, for instance. The closed beta for EverQuest (which I had somehow gotten in to!) was coming up soon, and I really wanted to pick out a new, good name to use with my new EverQuest character.
Thus, some time toward the end of 1998, “Cyde” was born. The only qualifications were that it wasn’t already a real word and that it was short. I had dealt with people with long character names in The Realm and it was a pain to always have to type out the name to send a private message. Cyde fit the bill perfectly; it was very short at only four letters, it was rather unique, and, to me at least, it sounded cool.
Flash-forward to about a year. I had just made level twenty. Back then, when a character made it to level twenty in EverQuest, they had the option of choosing a surname. I remember polling the whole zone (which had a few dozen people in it) for ideas as to what would make a good surname. A lot of the suggestions were puns on “side”. I whittled it down to “Sideways” and “Sidewinder”, both, of course, which would be spelled uniquely as Cyde Weys and Cyde Wynder. I eventually decided on Cyde Weys, besides I didn’t like the snake pun so much. Iin hindsight, I think if I had gone with the snake name, I wouldn’t still be using it now like I do with Cyde, because it has long since soured to me.
And so, ever since then, for about seven years now, I’ve gone by the nickname “Cyde Weys” on the Internet. I wish I had a cooler story, but alas, the name really just does come from wanting something to sound cool as a character name in an online game. It hasn’t been perfect, either. Occasionally people will misread the name and end up calling me Clyde or Cycle. Ah well. Also, apparently there’s a band called Pharcyde, and some people seem to think I’m a fan because of my user name, but Pharcyde really never had anything to do with the genesis of Cyde Weys.
At this point there’s so much inertia behind this current pseudonym that I really don’t forsee ever changing it. I’ve even been called Cyde in real life (when I’m meeting people who I’ve known online), and it works. The name also continues to be a source of amusement, whether it’s people enjoying punning off it or finally realizing what the name sounds like after months of silently reading it in their browsers and never trying to pronounce it.