Big Brother Blizzard

If you haven't read it by now, Blizzard is actively shooting itself in the sack.

Short version: once the change goes live, if you post on the Official WoW Forums, your real name - your Real ID - will be displayed with your post. Not your character's name.

There was an outcry,and Blizzard's official response was: "Posting is optional."

Except for bugs and suggestions and technical support, amirite? They are getting closer and closer to WoW becoming a game I simply 'cannot' play due to their insisting on making it into a Facebook entity.

One post summed up exactly how I felt:
"I've loved Blizzard since I started playing WC2 as a child, to think an idea like this not only left someone's head but made it so far as to be an idea they're planning to implement is just...

...there are no words. I lost my hero today."

I made two posts to the thread, though I could certainly comment more:

The more of this Real ID stuff I see introduced, the less I am loving Blizzard as a whole. I do not game to be part of a "big social network" in the way that people do so by joining Facebook and Myspace. I do not necessarily WANT to know the people I play with in any "real life" sense of the word.

I most CERTAINLY do not want them to know who I am, nor to be able to use my name on a forum post to -stalk me-. (If you think this won't be used for that, you're highly mistaken.)

And Blizzard's answer to these very legitimate concerns is, "Well, you don't have to post"?

Thank you. Thank you for showing what a caring and thoughtful company you are turning into, Blizzard.

(I can ignore trolls. I cannot ignore what is essentially a choice of "breach my privacy" or "don't participate in the community at all".)

There ARE alternatives, and ways to stop trolls. Instead of using our Real ID with a Primary Character OPTION, why not make us select ONE character we post with - period. "Select a character you will use to display on posts on the forums. This will be the permanent character used when you create content on the Official forums."

Anyway - short version.

Since my options are basically "Pass out your Real Life Information by participating on our forums" or "Don't participate", I'm going to have to go with option B.

So much for the suggestion and bug forum.

Post 2:
It's not about trolls or children...

It's about how many people out there have lost their jobs, their livelihood because of something an employer found online and blew out of proportion. It's about the privacy of a PAYING playerbase, and one that obviously so far has no desire to voluntarily plaster their names all over the internet.

Better still, it's about people who can't even GET hired in this economy because of something someone found online while doing a "background" check. If you think companies and businesses are so 'enlightened' that they view MMOs and gaming as hobbies for "adults", you are living in a fantasy world. Gamers are still subject to stigma based around their hobby which is, to the majority of non-gamers, "for kids", "for lazy people", etc.

Is Blizzard going to make it so that Google cannot index/search their forums? Of course not, which means that at least the core of Facebook offers more privacy than this change, so far.

For all of you saying "it's just your first and last name" - what are the first two things on every label, application, whatever that you've filled out? How do people identify -you- in person? Do they recite your Social Security Number when they call for you in a Dr. office, or the DMV? I dunno about you, but everywhere I go uses my... gasp... first and last name.

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=25712374700&sid=1  Is the original posting, but here are the Blue Posts from the thread for those that want to skip the... it's almost 900 pages long now. That's roughly 20,000 posts. (And the majority of them are NOT just trolling/spam.)

This was the Original Blizzard Post:
Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature -www.battle.net/realid/ , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Battle.net. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.

For more details read more in this thread- http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=25626109041
[ Post edited by Nethaera ]
Blizzard Post 2: 
One important point which I don't believe has been relayed yet is that the switch to showing RealID on the forums will only happen with the new forum systems we're launching for StarCraft II shortly before its release, and a new forum system for World of Warcraft launching shortly before the release of Cataclysm.

All posts here on the current World of Warcraft forums, or any of our classic Battle.net forums, will remain as-is. They won't (and can't) automatically switch to showing a real first and last name.

All posts in the future on the new forum systems will be an opt-in choice and ample warning will be given that you're posting with your real first and last name.
[ Post edited by Bashiok ]

Blizzard Post 3:

Just to respond to those that don't think we read through all of these responses and threads, we do and have been. We will continue monitoring feedback as well.

We put a lot of thought into this change and have a long-term vision for the Real ID service and wanted to make sure that we communicated ahead of time and very clearly as to what will be changing and how. Keep in mind that posting is optional, and we recognize that some players will choose not to utilize the Real ID feature in game or post on the forums and support everyone's individual choice on using or not using it.

This is obviously new ground for us and for you as well, but we want to make sure we're creating a great social-gaming service that people will want to use. We just want to make sure that if people are sharing feedback, that they keep it constructive, and yes, as I said, we are reading.   (by Nethaera)

Final Blue Response at the time of this post:
You will be able to set up Parental Controls to disallow a minor from posting. (by Nethaera)


Sok said...

Dumb me; long comment got flushed by stupid login issues (somewhat on topic, perhaps). Summary for now:

* Unless enough people leave over this it's a done deal, and I don't believe enough people give a crap to make a difference.

* I'm presuming this is based on an overall Activision/Facebook gameplan, and I find Facebook's policies to be asinine as they are -- and that's for people's friends.

* Apart from the account privacy/stalking/mocking issues, I just like a layer of privacy/escapism between my virtual lives and my real one, even when there's part that's not inside the virtual world. These measures erode my escapism, to the point where I'll find no difference between an online RPG and an online Scrabble game.

Sok said...

Also, WHEEE (via Idealist over at BrokenToys.com):


Avaryse said...

At least in online Scrabble, I'm still using a screen name. And I'm not forced to reveal my real name to the other Scrabble players if I need to post a problem to one of the gaming site's forums.

The thread was around 20,000 posts by the time I went to bed, and every... 12th or so was someone else canceling pre-orders and subscriptions. There's been a very big outcry against this.

I'm just not certain that amongst 11 million subscribers... any number is going to be enough.

Sok said...

Apologies -- I probably wasn't clear on the 'Scrabble' reference.

I was noting that this move degrade the 'worldiness' of the online RPG experience. I've always found that quality pretty tenuous anyhow, what with random people wandering up and saying 'gold plz?' or 'lol that a n00b swrod' or whatever. By placing people real name's into the mix, within the world or even in the peripheral interactions (forums, chat, etc.) you put immersiveness into a wood chipper.

I don't get that same feeling from a non-RPG game/social network like LiveJournal or Yahoo Scrabble or whatever. I'd be less liable to care on *those* grounds if I had to play online Scrabble using my real name. In short: Keep the real world out of my RPG space, thanks much.

(There are a host of other reasons not to use your real name in Yahoo Scrabble, Facebook, or WoW, but that issue seems particular to MMORPG space.)

Sok the Native English Speaker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Avaryse said...

My brain is a little fried from some math placement tests! I'm sorry. I see your meaning now (and can see it, re-reading your previous post), and I completely agree.

In an RPG (mmo or otherwise), I am always a different person. It's like slipping into a second (...third, fourth, fifth...) skin.

I am holding out a very thin and desparate hope that they rethink this. (In an ideal world, the Facebook deal would never have happened. Period.)

Sok said...

I hope they back away from this as well. At the very least make it more of an opt-in function, where you can link your single Blizzard/Battle Net/4chan/etc. handle to your Facebook. You post to the forums using that handle, you make global (cross-server, cross-faction) friends using that handle, and if you want to tie that to your real name -- y'know, the one that's on your WoW Account credit card -- more power to you.

One of these days I'm going to have to write up some ruminations about the notion of Privacy and confidentiality in the age of cut-and-paste, forwarding, "sexting", and online phone books. I'm think there may be some correlation between Facebook's notoriously cavalier attitude to privacy and Mark Zuckerberg being only 26 years old.

As Sanya Weathers noted on her blog (wildly paraphrased): it'll probably take the butchering of some telegenic blonde female player in Witchita for a change of course to occur.

Sok said...

While I'm prating along, might as well note a few things culled from elsewhere:

1) Rolled back the RealID on the forums business. This is good; doesn't quite help with the add-ons getting your real name, I suppose, but better than nothing. I give it about half-a-year before they try and sneak it in some other way.

2) An interesting tidbit about law in South Korea, apparently for similar reasons (: Here's the summary article. In the original news article, though, there's this bit: "The operators of the Web sites will be required to disclose the identities of bloggers accused of cyber attacks on request of police or victims seeking legal action, government officials said." A bit different than putting your real name out there for everyone to see... although it gets a bit murkier later on in the article about what is and isn't required/S.O.P.

(Hope the placement tests went well!)