I don’t usually do editorial links on MMORPG-Info but this is important. On the front page of Blizzard Entertainment you will see the announcement:
With the launch of our new Battle.net, we’ll be making some changes to how players and Blizzard posters are represented on our official forums. Click here to read about our plans for integrating Real ID into our official forums, learn about the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and find out about some other upcoming features designed to make the forums a more enjoyable place to visit.
Ashelia has written a great article for Hellmode explaining why this is crazy talk: Why Real ID is a Really Bad Idea | Hellmode
All Blizzard is effectively doing is giving those who fall between the cracks and margins more fodder to mess with people who do continue to use their services. A lot more fodder. Real life names, addresses, and downright terrifying fodder.
Additionally, by using a full name, players are tied to their real life persona and unable to separate themselves from their online one. In this system, it becomes linked forever in search engines. This means potential employers could find out if a player was a World of Warcraft fan and even the characters they have with a simple search. As cool of a story as it would make to be fired because your boss is staunch Horde and you’re Alliance (or more likely, because you play video games and your employer frowns upon MMORPGs in general), realistically there are aspects of one’s private life that don’t look good during an interview process. My boss doesn’t need to necessarily know if I have three level 80s, or if my arena team is about to get Gladiator using a cheap team composition.
There’s other issues, too. Women might find it harsher with new avenues of harassment opened. Transgendered people could be inadvertently outted when someone sees Sally, the friendly Paladin chick, posting under the name Steve. Someone could have a distinctive name and be disregarded solely because their name sounded like a person of a certain background, race, religion, or otherwise. And if someone’s a minor–or even major–celebrity, having their name exposed could be damaging. From Felicia Day to Mila Kunis, I doubt they’d like their alternative identity exposed simply because they decided to post a suggestion on the WoW forums or report a bug to support.
Go read the full article … and join me in hoping that they come to their senses at Blizzard.
Edit: And if that doesn’t convince you, try this round-up from Lum: RealID: Scare-Mongering From A Lot Of People With Funny Names on Broken Toys.
And Another Edit: BBC News – World of Warcraft maker to end anonymous forum logins
Mr Brand said that one Blizzard employee posted his real name on the forums, saying that there was no risk to users, and the experiment went drastically wrong.
“Within five minutes, users had got hold of his telephone number, home address, photographs of him and a ton of other information,” said Mr Brand.