Monday, July 12, 2010

Blizzard Cans Real Names on Forums

Barely 3 days after Blizzard detailed their new forum system to allow gamers’ real names to be exposed next to the character names, they canned the idea after the massive outcry and threats of boycotts.

This initially started via and StarCraft with the idea to help the forums be better moderated for spammers, gold sellers, and the like. Unsurprisingly, they dropped the idea.

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.

From the CEO himself. Which is probably his secretary after approval from someone down the chain in the marketing department before releasing it on the forums (which was edited once on the forums). Kotkau's post best sums up that fans and customers were pissed at the idea of having their real names available on a forum for the universe to read. Concerns range from women, to those under the age of 13, to identity theft. The one thing I can say about Blizzard in comparison to other companies, they listen to their audience. If there's a problem, they really do try to fix it. Yeah it might take them 15 years to release a game, but you have a company willing to listen and make things right.

So of course, we have this huge debate going on about our internet identities. I'm subject to this as well since I almost never post my real name in the interwebs. Googling myself I'm near the bottom of the list. But googling my internet identity, the first 4 pages are all me. Except for that one weird book that is about Greek mythology I think? That's not me.

The internet exists to allow yourself to be free of restrictions of the real world and not worry about the consequences. Case in point: You can be an asshole on the WoW forums but a sweetheart with your coworkers and no one would ever know. Which is why the prospect of having your real name out there for the world to see is daunting. The last thing I would want is someone at work to see my name attached to this one character, and all of the comments I have made, and then bring it to the office and be confronted. Not that I have posted on the WoW forums, but you get the idea.

It's a lost of ones-self on the interwebs. That's the thing that scares us. We create this identity for ourselves online (whether it be someone we're not or a more real version of ourselves) to hide away from the world. When our name is exposed, that identity is lost. Amenity is what helped build the internet. It's a tough subject to handle.

While I don't disagree with Blizzard wanting to better handle their forum situation, they didn't go about it the right way. Truthfully, I don't know where I could begin in such a situation and don't have a better alternative to provide. I'm sure Blizzard will come up with something, but touchy issue. Retaining amenity is an important factor to all whom troll the internet. Taking it away will cause backlash and nothing but.


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