I'm always behind the ball in blog-land, and that's cool. Blizzard made what I'd consider the 'right choice' and backed off the whole "Use your real name on a forum" thing. Many people are hopeful this is a step in the right direction. Maybe even toward them considering alias-use in the Real ID system overall. I would enjoy that. I would be inclined to add more people to my contact list if it met 3 requirements:

1. Use of a single alias, instead of the name on my Battle.net account.
2. Ability to set certain alts to a 'restricted' status, so that they do not show up via Real ID at all.
3. Remove the ability to see "friends of friends", or allow individuals to set permissions. (IE, I could choose a setting "do not allow 'friends of friends' to see me".

The third is much less important with the institution of the first, obviously. But in a social situation, I may opt to add X person to my list and not Y person, but Y person can see I have added X and that causes different issues. "Why did you add X but you won't add me?" Childish, but it happens.

In the world of real life: I mentioned placement tests in my comments on the last post. Good news, Everyone! They went well. No remedial courses for me. With some of my scores, I could probably CLEP out of some early classes (no math, but the English ones), but I won't. Not yet. I need to get back into the groove of things.

Loremaster: About 175 quests from Azeroth completion on my Paladin. I still need to do it on my mage and warlock. I guess I better start working my rear off on that.

I'll hide the original text of the post rescinding the Real ID - Forum change behind the "more" button.

Hello everyone,

I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

It's important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as the ability to rate posts up or down, post highlighting based on rating, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.

I want to make sure it's clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you'll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment


Sok said...

After chewing on this for a while (for mystifying reasons, as I don't play any MMO right now barring the occasional poker game in Puzzle Pirates), I realized I didn't know this -- does Blizzard know every WoW player's real name? Setting aside illegal activities, such as falsifying credit card info... but *not* setting aside EULA violations, such as "oh, yes sir Mr. Blizzard sir, I am really called Magenta Fancypants." I generally don't use pre-paid gamecards to play, but I realized someone could very well have an account without any real name attached to it.

I agree with your three points. It is extremely similar to what City of Heroes does with "global handles." I had two 'accounts' with Cryptic - one with my billing info and one with my forum info. Two distinct IDs and passwords, but the forum handle was linked to my account info. If I started serious talks about, oh, abusing prisoners like this guy did while I was on the forums, it'd be good for *Blizzard* to have info to provide the authorities. It wouldn't be good for *me* to have that info so I can go slash his tires or some such.

One of the underlying assumptions is that the Facebook paradigm is inherently OK. I don't only have an issue with the RealID -> Real Name link, but I have an issue with Facebook's stance as well, especially since the days where it was about keeping in touch with people you knew well are long, long gone. Fortunately Facebook doesn't require credit cards, so people like my relative can keep on teaching junior high while using Facebook with a psuedonym as a bulwark against the school and the students. Once Facebook went all pyramid-scheme with their gaming applications the notion that people needed to give out their real names to complete strangers got laughable.

Avaryse said...

The reasons aren't terribly mystifying, really. When it comes to what people/companies institute online, it's often "for the first time", and I think we would all do well to pay close attention. These are the precedents for the future. They concern us all, whether we are playing MMOs, or doing anything online.

I'm not certain how Blizzard handles the Game Card accounts, to be honest. I know that the name that appears on my accout is MINE, though the billing info is NOT in my name. My Battle.net account is what's in my name.

At the least, Blizzard has whatever information they required you to give - even if it is fake, they have your IP address, and in many cases the ISP would be forced to give up the information related to the IP to track down the 'owner' of whatever offense.

I hate Facebook. I have one, mostly because my family... seems to be more at ease now that I have it and they know I'm alive. It is, however, locked down as tightly as I could make it. I had a few friends - who know my name, my address, and other tidbits, try to find me on FB and they couldn't. So...

But I agree. I hate the way it is assumed it 'should' be - with people who know your friends thinking they should be "your friends" on FB, and all the apps? I refuse to use any of them.

Sok said...

Avaryse said: At the least, Blizzard has whatever information they required you to give - even if it is fake, they have your IP address, and in many cases the ISP would be forced to give up the information related to the IP to track down the 'owner' of whatever offense.

I suspect that a router and certain applications can make it tricky to track a determined person down to a particular ID. I R not h@xx0rr, I dunno for sure. There's also the distinction between taking legal action and simply trying to ban a person in perpetuity for violation of this-or-that EULA -- a breach of the TOS, perhaps, but not necessarily a legal offense (e.g., gold-farming, spamming all-cap gibberish).

If you require some sort of ID authentication to create an account, such as a credit card that you validate even if you never charge it (or charge it $0.01 for verification purposes), I'd suspect that would go some ways towards accountability without divulging people's real names. It would also require every account to have an associated credit card, which probably brings a whole new host of problems -- how does that work in South Korea, what if you don't have a card, etc.

So... yeah, not sure if there's some truly enforcable way to go towards the overt goal of "reducing the amount of asshat behavior." I figure even with pre-paid cards, though, this model might help.