Gaming/Internet Anonymity

Blizzard (makers of World of Warcraft and Starcraft) have announced that they are doing away with usernames on their forums in preference of users posting under their real life, honest to goodness names. They are doing this in an attempt remove the trolling, online hardcases and general techno-psychos from making their forum an unpleasant place for some people.

On the one hand I think it’s a good idea. But I also think that using your real name should be an option, not a requirement. My name is not a secret. When I started this blog I made a conscious decision to post under my real name in order to be more tangible to you the reader. I figured that visitors here would be more likely to engage with a real person than just another online identity. It’s no big deal to me that people know who I am, although I do respect the right of other people to choose anonymity online.

I fully understand why people would not want to go online under their real names though. Especially on forums. When I first started out on the internet and forums no-one used their real name – ever. In a lot of cases even posting your location was quite taboo. You just didn’t give out personal information. Although I mention in passing my family, that’s about as much information as I’ll be posting on this blog regarding my offline life. This blog is, after all, about gaming and not about what I had for lunch (cheese and onion omelette).

There is a lot of douchery and general bad attitude out there in cyberspace and I don’t necessarily disagree that “hiding” behind a username is part of the problem. I don’t think it’s the cause. The cause is really down to a lack of respect for each other, and in many cases a lack of self respect or control (and parents not smacking their foul mouthed brats around the ear with a wooden spoon).

I’m kind of going off on one here, and that wasn’t my intention. I wanted to share the link to the story with you:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/10543100.stm

And two interesting snippets from the story:

“One World of Warcraft player, Jim Brand, contacted BBC News to say how disappointed he was over the change.
“I have been using the forums for over five years, reporting bugs and trying to be helpful. Now, to have the privilege to help people on the forums I have to reveal my real name; I’m dead against it,” he said.
“I work in a charity and deal with governments officials. If they do a search and see I am a gamer, it could affect my employment prospects,” he added.”

and

“Mr Brand said that one Blizzard employee posted his real name on the forums, saying that there was no risk to users, and the experiment went drastically wrong.
“Within five minutes, users had got hold of his telephone number, home address, photographs of him and a ton of other information,” said Mr Brand.
The post and topic has since been removed from the Blizzard forum.”

Technology…. tamed?

Peas and loaves

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


4 thoughts on “Gaming/Internet Anonymity

  1. I won’t be buying any Blizzard games until this goes away. There is no reason to tie gaming aliases to real-life names. Sure, it might make it easier for their forum moderators, but as we’ve seen on many occasions, people on the Internet (ahem, 4Chan) can do a lot with just a name. Girls will no longer be safe and gaming rage will hop into the real world just like Jay and Silent Bob went around beating up teenagers for bad-mouthing them on moviepoopshoot.com. Blood will be spilt and lawsuits will be plentiful. At the very least it will drive a lot of people away.

    • I totally agree that there’s no reason to do it. And really, if they do it, the traffic to their forums will diminish while people set up their own unofficial support rooms which is going to be the complete opposite of what they seem to be aiming at. Instead of one regulated support channel there will be hundreds, probably thousands of forums of varying levels of douchery catering for the Blizzard Exiles. I imagine there will also be a fair few scam sites set up on the back of this (SIGN UP FOR FREE GOLD!!!!)…..

      As I see it they have three options at the moment: 1- shelve the idea, 2- steam ahead regardless of what the community thinks or wants (hmmm that’s never happened before…) or, 3- Change it so that EVERYTHING is run on your real name. So in game when you go on a marauding spree with your clan or guild or whatever you have in those games and seriously piss someone off they can then track you down. Nice.

      But on the other hand – there is the idea that using your real details would cut down on how much of an arsehole you are in game. How many of the trash talkers in MW2 would you get if they new that their real details were only a click away? And on the counter of that, you have using fake names – it’s not rocket science, or even cake making to use a false name. Or even the real name of someone you know (and maybe don’t like) to use as you embark on a abuse cruise.

      Considering that Blizzard is effectively an internet based games company it’s odd that would come up with such a short sighted idea. It seems as though someone who has heard of the internet, but never used any service other than AOL came up with the idea.

  2. Pingback: Real Name: Not Required (Blizzard) « evaDlivE Blog

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