The short version:
Starting with Starcraft II and proceeding into WoW just before Cataclysm, all posts made on the WoW Official Forums will be done using your RealID, which is to say, your real first and last name.
Obviously, this is… not so good.
The posts I’ve liked best so far:
- Saresa, from Destructive Reach – RealID – A Forum Compilation
- Chas, from Righteous Orbs – Seriously Not Okay
- Yva, from WTT:RP – Obligatory RealID Post as well as Falconesse’s comment (#3)
- Blue Ink Alchemy – The Rise and Fall of Blizzard – Battle net and Facebook
So here’s the thing, cats and kittens. Lots of people are OK with this change. And that’s fine. Their “okayness” doesn’t change, diminish, or otherwise in any way change my (and other people’s) “not-okayness”. Particularly since my issue is as much one of safety as it is one of comfort. (I’ve found mostly people either don’t care – “whatever, it doesn’t bother me” – or don’t like it. Haven’t seen a lot of people overjoyed by the change.)
If you feel safe using the new “my real name is on the forum with all my posts” thing, that’s fine. I’m glad you’re that secure in trusting either your name’s popularity, or the internet’s ability to overlook you.
I don’t feel safe, both for reasons of hacking and for reasons of stalking/harassment. I’m fortunate that I don’t have any creepy stalker exes that are out to get me online. I’m also not transgendered, and I have a relatively common, US/European sounding first name. But I have dealt with people online who took harassment out of game and into the greater internet – and that was pretty unnerving. I’m very thankful that, in both cases, neither person had my real name or my location.
Could someone find that out about me? Probably. But that doesn’t mean I’m OK with broadcasting it to every gold-seller and creepy window-licking asshat out there. (As Corise said, that’s like saying there’s no reason to lock my door when I leave the house because a burglar could just break a window and get in.)
I’m also not OK with broadcasting that I play a video game to every potential employer that knows how to use a search engine. In many fields, video games (especially MMO’s, and DOUBLE especially Warcraft) are not viewed well. In fact, they’re viewed as proof that you’re lazy, unproductive and immature. Whether that stereotype is correct or not, it exists, and ignoring it doesn’t make it go away or not affect you.
Sure, I could just never use the forums. But when the WoW customer service people regularly send you to the forums because “they can help you there”? I’ll be pretty stuck. That’s no longer a choice – other than a choice not to be able to fix your game so it’s playable if you want to control who does and doesn’t have your name. (And before someone brings up Facebook, my Facebook account is on a pretty short leash. I untag pictures of myself, it’s only visible to people I trust, and I pretty ruthlessly delete things there. Could you find me if you tried? Probably, but you’d have to try pretty hard, and you couldn’t see much of anything about me – not even a profile picture – unless I accepted you as a friend.)
The #1 rule of the internet is “Don’t give your real life information to strangers.” Unfortunately, Blizzard doesn’t seem to understand this. In fact, it’s against the Blizzard ToS to give out someone else’s personal information – including their name.
I think I’ll take a cue from Aely on this one.
[5.OOC] Beltar: Aely’s Hammer of What The Fuck Were You Thinking
So, what can we do about it?
- Post on the original forum thread. The Devs are reading that thread. Don’t make a new thread, it’ll get deleted. And you may have to try more than once. That thread is already over 1000 pages long, so the forums are pretty busy.
- Send Blizzard a customer service email via this page: https://us.blizzard.com/support/webform.xml?rhtml=y&locale=en_US
And remember – being a rational, cool headed human being will get you a lot farther than ranting. Be firm, be polite, be clear, and be concise (I usually fail on that last one). Ranting and raving gets you pegged as a looney and the type of troll they’re trying to stop from posting anonymously.
It’s possible Blizzard will still go through with this, and it’s entirely possible we’ve only just now seen “Step 2″ in the RealID slippery slope.
In fact, given that Blizzard has already announced that Battle.net 2.0 is going to be integrated with Facebook, I seriously doubt anything will change at this point.
Regardless, we don’t know any of that yet, and until we do, let’s wait and see what happens. This change hasn’t happened yet, and there are a lot of people expressing their discontent (and in some cases, canceling recurring accounts. If this is to that level for you, it’s DOUBLY important that you send a message via either the forum or the customer support page).
PS – I’ve seriously considered closing comments on this post. I have no desire to hash and rehash this, but enough of you have sent me links to it (apparently to make sure I know what’s going on) that I felt a post was necessary. I’ll hopefully be posting some fic later, so we can all move on with things. The only way to change this is to contact Blizzard about it, so please, do so (I have) and we’ll get back to RP and the more fun parts of the game.
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- Tanking Perceptions (33)