Blizzard: Soon Everyone Will Know The True Identity of Painface Hammersmite

Blizzard is making a stir again, but this time it’s not about charging $25 for an imaginary pony or the impending release of Starcraft II. The current stink is related to Blizzard’s announcement that posts made on their official forums will soon display users’ real names: 

… [I]n the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. The classic Battle.net forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting.  

Why would Blizzard do this? Because their forums are legendary for being steaming cesspools of ignorance and stupidity. 

The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

It goes without saying that people feel strongly about this. Online privacy is kind of a big deal, and a lot of people have legitimate concerns over how RealID could impact their lives, both online and off.  

In response to early outrage and condemnation from the community, a well-meaning Blizzard Community Manager known as Bashiok decided to demonstrate that there was no danger associated with RealID by posting his real name on the forums. The result was both predictable and depressing. From the second link:  

Within minutes, we knew almost all the important [information about] his life: his phone number, address, age, etc. [as well as] the name of his wife, and the roommate in his home, [along with] school of his children. In addition, [thanks to Google Street View] some users published pictures of his house.

Since then, Bashiok’s thread has been deleted, along with his Twitter account and Facebook page. He’s changed or blocked his phone numbers, too. 

What do you think, dear readers? Accountability for one’s online behaviour is a laudable goal, but is Blizzard stepping into a quagmire? Could (should?) the company be held responsible if some fucking creep decides to mail a box of dead kittens to the guy who corpse-camped him outside of Shattrath for an hour?

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3 Responses

  1. Blizzard relents, but they are still determined to use Real ID going forward. We’ll see where this goes.

  2. Poor Blizzard; one bad mistake and what is otherwise a fine idea gets raked over the coals. For added clarity, Blizz boss Robert Kotick:

    “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.”

    The forum thing was a terrible idea – what he’s describing above is a really good one. I only wish I still had RL friends to play wit… no harm though, Anghus, it’s not like we’re short on good tanks atm.

    … traitor.

  3. Im glad to have located this post as its such an interesting one! I am always on the watchout for quality posts and posts so i suppose im lucky to have located this! I hope you will be adding more in the future

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