On Real ID

Posted by on Jul 8, 2010 in Commentary | 5 comments

Real ID. When Blizzard announced that it was implementing it back in the day I thought it was pretty cool. I’d be able to communicate with my real-life friends across factions, realms and even games. It sounded like a convenient way to keep in touch.

Then the patch arrives and here comes the implementation. Frankly, I don’t like it. It just feels wrong to see my real name displayed in-game like that. Sure, my real-life friends know who I am and my online persona is not too different from how I actually am but that isn’t the issue. There’s a reason why we have avatars and usernames. We don’t want everyone to know who we are. We want to play the game and interact with other people yet still remain hidden under the anonymity of our toons.

By revealing that they want to implement the Real ID system to the forums as well, Blizzard is effectively removing our choice to be anonymous. You want to post? Then you have to identify who you are. It’s going to be an effective way to remove trolling, sure, but it’s also going to kill their forums. It’s not worth revealing who you are just to ask where Mankrik’s wife is or how to tank properly.

Now, I don’t post in the forums very often. In fact, I rarely visit it. My reasons are purely circumstantial; at work, where I am most likely to view it, our corporate firewall is blocking it. At home, I’d rather play the game than go to the forums. In short, this issue doesn’t affect me directly. This leads us to the simple solution: if you don’t want your real name displayed in the forums, then don’t post there. It’s as easy as that. Yet here we are, raising a collective voice.

I’m going to end this with a question. What if Blizzard/Activision goes further? For example, what if they automatically create forum accounts with your Real ID readily available and they modify the ToS so that it’s mandatory, something you have to agree to in order to play their games? I know I’m creating a possible worst case scenario here but it’s a thought. I’ve been a fan of Blizzard for a long time now but this whole mess makes me think that it’s having an identity crisis wherein it wants to be the Facebook of gaming.

Read More