Thursday, July 8, 2010

Real ID goes to the forums

"I'm just an average man
With an average life
I work from nine to five,
Hey hell I pay the price
All I want is to be left alone
In my average home
But why do I always feel like
I'm in the twilight zone?

I always feel like
somebody's watching meeee
and I have no privacy..."

Ah yes, Blizzard's newest announcement has their forum community singing a new tune these days.  Soon, you will be required to disclose your Real ID (first and last name) in order to post on the offical forums. 

My first reaction... "-_-"

To be honest, I am not an active poster on the offical forums (or any forums for that matter) so the change has little effect on me personally.  Thinking ahead, should I ever feel the need to post on the forums (e.g. Blizz decides to rock my world with another "ToL on cooldown" type announcement) this Real ID news would do very little to deter me.

Do I have a common name?  No.  I've only been able to find one other person in the US who shares my first and last name, so it would not be too difficult to locate me (or him for that matter). 

Am I an exhibitionist?  No more so than most I suppose.  I have a facebook profile.  I have a blog that links to it.  Clearly I must crave some attention / enjoy exhibiting my RL.

Do I fear the repercussions of connecting my character to my real life self?  No.  There's nothing I would say in "character" that I would not in person.  There is nothing I do game related that would jeopardize my job/life/reputation.  The golden rule doesn't stop at login screens.  There's little doubt that anybody who had desired to find me/my info would have already done so even before this change takes effect.

So, do I agree with Blizzards announcement?  Absolutely not.

I'm not "upset" about this news, because I'm detached from its effects, but it's blatantly obvious to me how terrible a decision this is for those who will be very much affected by it.  The logic behind it is shaky at best... 

"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment" 

Perhaps.  But, if that's all Blizzard has in the "Pros" column, they've obviously neglected to weigh the negatives. 

A very one sided debate rages (see here, here, and elsewhere) across the online community, and if there's any justice left on the net, WoWaholics will not be forced to choose between their hobby and their privacy.

The masses are speaking.  Let's find out if anybody at Blizzard is listening.


  1. I don't know if they'll reverse this change, but I for one, really hope so.

    I do have a somewhat unique name, nowhere near as common as a "John Smith", but nowhere near as unique as your name. When I google my name none of the results are me. However, my uncle shows up, and he's a fairly successful individual who's held many jobs at the top of corporate ladders.

    I've worked hard at making sure that my online presence is low-key. I do this because my career choices are very dependent on this. Trying to get my foot in the door as an IT professional comes with tech savvy employers that are well equipped to check up on me. They're not afraid to look for my Facebook and make sure I don't binge drink, or to see if I have less than flattering photos up on Myspace.

    I don't hide my WoW habits from anyone, but I don't advertise them publicly either. Sadly, there is some real discrimination from people directed at WoW players. I'd prefer to not reveal my hand before the showdown, to use a poker metaphor.

    I also look at the damage that can come from other WoW players. I am not afraid to voice opinions on the forums, I do so often, and on my main. I have had plenty of disagreements on the forums, and I'm sure I've made a few people very angry with me. I am almost always respectful and nice in all of my posts, I do not troll, however, people still get mad over silly simple opinions of others.

    Being a guild master also comes with a heavy price. Even though I work hard at being fair and helpful, I have upset a LOT of people. It comes with the territory. People get upset that I make a rule they don't feel is fair, or that I didn't loot them a specific item. There is plenty of bad blood between myself and former guildies. There is plenty of bad blood between myself and other guild masters. I have met several people in my 4 years on Lightninghoof that I know it is absolutely not safe to hand out my name to.

    What is Blizzard's response to this? "Don't post." That's hardly a constructive way to handle this issue. And it is something that will end up detracting heavily from my enjoyment of this game.

    I'll end up my book to you, Beck, on a bit of an experiment I did, just to see if someone could trace me if they had my name. By googling my character name I was happily re-directed to a quite epic blog post you made. From there I was able to check your facebook friends, and sure enough, I'm your only friend with my name. ;)

    As I said before, I keep a tight lock-down on my personal information on the internet, but I don't underestimate people. I'm sure someone could find out more information about me than I did about myself (Devenem comes to mind). I also am EXTREMELY empathetic for those that don't understand the risks of this and have lots of public information available.

    The last thing I need is some hunter calling me up while I'm sleeping or working to yell at me because I didn't give him a one handed axe.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Rylus!

    First off, I'm a bit humbled by the fact that my facebook page was the gateway to your RL identity in your experiment. I've since put my FB friends list under lock and key (it was that or invite every person on facebook who shares your name.) =P

    Second, Blizzard cannot be so obtuse as to not realize the dangers inherent in their decision. For people like you who know enough to safe guard their personal identities, this announcement sucks and forces a decision to be made. But what about kids who don't know any better? What about kids who play on their parents accounts? Who's looking out for the people who are ignorant of this change or its potential effects?

    I'm confident forum junkies will be able to get their forum fixes somewhere on the interwebs (be it on the offical forums or not), so I tend not to rage about Blizz's "Don't post" solution.

    What does anger me, however, is Blizzard's complete indifference to risks facing those would be posters who do not know any better.