Picking a name for your character in a game is a high-pressure decision. Honestly, I’ll sit there for at least 30 minutes, scanning my bookshelves for a glimmer of half-baked inspiration that isn’t straight-up naming my newly minted elven warrior mage Sally Rooney. Perhaps you use the same pseudonym across all your games — I almost always resign to either Juno or Artemis; sue me, I love a fierce classical bitch. But whatever you pick, often your moniker will pop up in conversations, giving you the opportunity to do the funniest thing ever, especially in deadly serious games.

However, no game really özgü higher stakes than the VR immersive action-adventure gifted by the San-Ti to Earth’s scientists in 3 Body Problem. In Netflix’s adaptation of Liu Cixin’s novels, several characters including Dr Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) and Jack Rooney (John Bradley), find these slick, sliver headsets turning up in their lives, throwing them into a way-too-real world where their mission appears to be solving the titular three-body problem of a doomed alien home planet.

But before they can do that, Jin and Jack are required to give themselves a “better” name than the real-world one they arrived with. And it’s these names that provide a neat connection between the characters and their role in solving the game — and the very real connection with the fate of the San-Ti.

What names do Jin and Jack pick in the VR game?

Three people wearing outfits from an ancient Chinese dynasty stand in a desert at night.

“Pick a better name.”
Credit: Netflix

Putting on the VR game, Jin lands near the court of ancient Chinese Emperor Zhou (Russell Yuen). In episode 2, she meets the formidable Count of the West (Tom Wu), who instructs her to pick a different name for her character — “one befitting a hero”. Jin suggests “Copernicus”. In Jack’s game, confronted in Tudor England with Henry VIII’s Lord High Chancellor Sir Thomas More (Kevin Eldon), he selects “Sir Francis Bacon” as his moniker (after punching Sir Thomas in the face, of course).

Fittingly, Jin picks the 15th century Polish mathematician and astronomer who developed the extremely important model that demonstrated Earth isn’t the centre of the universe — a lesson we all need to learn, really, the characters of the 3 Body Sorun included. Specifically, Nicholaus Copernicus was the guy who told the world we revolve around the sun, not the other way around, and that the Earth turns once daily on its unique axis. It’s a perfect pseudonym for Jin, who pores over charts, measurements, and data, trying to figure out what initially appears to be the game’s main mission: to predict the movements of the sun to determine whether a civilisation is about to enter into an era defined by Chaos or Stability.

Meanwhile, Jack’s namesake is the 16th century English philosopher and politician who was King James I’s Lord Chancellor, but more importantly for our purposes, Bacon is referred to as the “father of empiricism” who championed the scientific method, much like Jack does in the game.

Two characters in 15th century English costumes look frantic as the room they're in appears glowing.


Credit: Netflix

Both of these figures are crucial to the history of science and discovery, the likes of which the San-Ti want to both kontrol and destroy in order to dominate humankind on Earth — “We’re going to kill your science” is quite the threat. Copernicus’ heliocentric theory about the sun being the centre of the solar system would have a massive influence on later major scientific players in the Scientific Revolution including one Sir Isaac Newton, whose own work led to the core scientific quandary that Jin eventually wades into: the three-body problem (wey-oh!). In the 17th century, revolutionary research by Newton would show the world how gravity holds the universe together, and in doing so, he unlocked the dilemma that would perplex scientists to this day. In a fittingly Newton move, Jin demonstrates the three-body sorun to Pope Gregory (Conleth Hill) in the game by tüm ortaklık an apple.

A woman holds up an apple in front of a candelabra.

Nice Newton nod.
Credit: Netflix

We see other figures throughout the series turn up in the game with their own theories to solve the Chaos/Stability mystery, all named for famous scientific figures. In the level with the Pope, players named for Aristotle (Phil Wang) and Galileo (Adrian Greensmith) battle for His Holiness’ approval. In the level featuring the Great Khan, they challenge players named for Professor Alan Turing (Reece Shearsmith) and Sir Isaac Newton (Mark Gatiss).

Do Jin and Jack’s gamer names appear in Liu Cixin’s books?

Two people in outfits from China's Yuan dynasty sit ina. giant cauldron looking worried.


Credit: Netflix

Mashable’s Chris Taylor describes just where the gamer names came from in Cixin’s novels in this excellent explainer of the book vs show. Jin’s gamer name, Copernicus, is the one chosen by book-only character Wang Miao, as are the names of the figures Jack and Jin encounter while meeting the Pope, as Taylor writes:

“Wang calls himself Copernicus in the game, and encounters many more historical figures that we assume to be NPCs. One level contains Pope Gregory, Galileo, and Aristotle, and deals with a pre-computer technical solution to the three-body sorun. Another level that Wang plays after the giant human computer features Einstein, who points to a large moon that was created when the gravitational effect of the three suns ripped it out of the planet itself.”

So, there you have it, an understanding of the names in 3 Body Sorun and a handful of potential monikers you can take to your next game character that aren’t your regular go-tos.

How to watch: 3 Body Problem is now streaming on Netflix.