Blizzard has made an announcement about the the future of posting on their forums. Appearantly, they like RealID so darn much that they’re going to make your battle.net name (i.e. your real first and last name) appear when you post on their forums instead of your toon’s name, which you have the option to make appear next to your name, so don’t you worry, folks will still know who you are!
Now, I don’t post on the forums. I think I’ve maybe posted like, 5ish times over the 5 years I’ve played. But really, this just seems uncool. The announcement says “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.” Yes, anonymity gives folks the balls to post things they otherwise wouldn’t, be jerks, etc, but forcing folks to use their real names (or at least the name attached to their battle.net account) isn’t going to fix anything, it’s just going to drive folks away. My problem with this, as well as RealID, is the lack of *options*. Yes, I have privacy concerns, but overall, the lack of customization you have available to you with RealID is my chief complaint. And now with the forums, it’s not even giving folks the option to NOT use their real names. Want to post on the forums? Then your real name will be what’s shown, not your character name.
This just seems to be a harbinger of things to come. The use of RealID in game is optional, so if I don’t like it, I don’t use it (except for 2 RL friends, and we only have each other as friends). Posting in the forums takes the option out entirely. What’s next? Having your RealID name appear next to your character name in game? I’m sure Blizzard thinks this is some cool way of making the game one big social meeting place, a la Facebook, but I’m not liking it. I’m not all OMG, PRIVACY! Let me get my tinfoil hat! But I do like keeping my RL identity separate from my in game identity. It’s my escapism, it’s also nobody’s business what my name is….it doesn’t affect my gameplay. There are alot of people that play WoW, alot of different personalities and backgrounds and I don’t want all of them (well, realistically, it’s not going to be all, but you get my point, I hope) knowing my name, sorry.
Y’know, using battle.net was once optional too. Just sayin.
Edited to add: After reading a number of blog posts, it got me thinking more about the why’s of why Blizz is doing this: to hold trolls accountable and all that jazz, to stop the flaming. That’s bullshit, imo. Reading a flame post from Joe Smith isn’t any different to me than reading a post from Zaboo. This change is also a few years too late. The Scarlet Crusade realm forums (my old stomping grounds) used to be a wretched hive of scum and villany. There were regular trolls, posts where mud was slung from start to finish, flame wars, it was horrible. Bad enough that I decided then and there I didn’t care to ever post in the forums if that was the kind of environment I had to post in. But now? TAME. Boring, even. All that’s in the SC forums, for the most part, are guild recruitment posts and random, harmless threads. It’s been that way for awhile now. Visits to my current server’s forums get the same results…it looks pretty tame to me. I still maintain this will drive more folks away than anything. I’m also hearing concerns about players who are in the military and what it’ll mean for them, being as they probably have to be all about the privacy. I’ve read the changes won’t be retroactive, so all your old posts won’t suddenly be sporting your real name. And there is some confusion for me about just *where* the changes will show up, the way they worded the announcement makes it sound like there will be some forums left as they are. But still….bad idea, Blizzard. Bad idea.
Also been hearing the argument that unless you have a completely unique name, and even then, chances of being stalked or otherwise harassed because of posting with your name is slim. But an individual named Thromean wrote a response to the post on World of Matticus that I liked. Basically, he said that you lock your car doors and your house right? Chances are statistically small that anything will happen, but you do it anyway, to be safe…because it makes you feel better that you’re protecting yourself as best you can. Same thing with this new change. Chances are statistically small, but there are 11 million-ish people who play WoW, and any Tom, Dick or Harry browsing the internetz can read the WoW forums. So…yeah.
Edited moar: This thing is appearantly blowing up the blog-o-sphere as well as the WoW forums. The epic thread in the general forums about RealID (the only one that Blizz is not insta-locking) is as I type, 2070 pages and growing about 2 every minute. So far as I can tell, no blues are posting at all about this, except some community MVP’s posting to express disapproval. But I’ve seen quotes from Blues on various blogs to the effect of “Well, you don’t have to post on the forums, it’s optional”. GG, Blizzard. GG. People seem to be putting more of the blame on Activision, which apparently recently joined forces or merged with Blizzard. My feeling is that this is in the bag and there’s no going back, but my fervent hope is that they at least offer some measure of ‘option’ as they continue to roll out changes as it pertains to RealID and the Facebook stuff. Make RealID more customizable and I’d totally be on board. Give us a handle to post under, not our RL names. Let us hide certain toons from RealID friends. I’m not sure what the Facebook changes will bring, but if it gets too hairy, I am not afraid to pull the plug on my FB account. I’ve already thought about it, with all the nutty privacy policies and changes they’ve been making. I’ve seen more people threaten (and follow up) to quit WoW than ever before, on the forums. This is definitely big. But it can get bigger and THAT is what scares me.