Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


But my name really is Deathblood Blackaxe
July 6, 2010 10:54 AM   Subscribe

As Blizzard prepares for the next World of Warcraft expansion, they are updating their server system, BattleNet, to use a real-name identification system called RealID, allowing your friends -- and their friends -- to see your real name. Some like it, some hate it. The system is optional; but today, Blizzard announced that all posts on their official forums will be under the poster's real name.

From the announcement: 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.
posted by waraw (322 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have no problem with RealID, but dimming or brightening comments based on how people vote? That's going a few steps further than favorites.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2010


Oh man. I really want to see the data regarding male vs. female posting rates before and after this shift.
posted by effugas at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [27 favorites]


This should be interesting to watch. I wonder what effect that will have on the incidence of trolling.
posted by jefeweiss at 11:03 AM on July 6, 2010


well, this will be in interesting experiment. either things will be more or less civil, or the trolling will continue and people won't care that they're not anonymous. probably the younger ones, already inured to the "live out loud" culture of facebook and twitter and whatever, will continue to troll away.

only time will tell
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:03 AM on July 6, 2010


Good luck with that, Blizzard. Congratulations, you've just created the impetus for thousands of people to finally learn how to make reasonably fake identification online.
posted by adipocere at 11:05 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, it's only in Europe? Hmm.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:05 AM on July 6, 2010


Oh man. I really want to see the data regarding male vs. female posting rates before and after this shift.

I probably don't, because it would make me predictably angry.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


How am I supposed to play the alt that I keep secret from my girlfriend now? Thanks, Blizzard.
posted by charred husk at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010


And yeah, the WoW forums are hive of scum and villainy. I'm not sure you can do anything to repair them. They need to be nuked from outer space.
posted by chunking express at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's definitely an interesting experiment. I'm surprised that such a large company would take so seemingly risky a move. Anonymity is fairly standard for most of the internet, and though I have much less concern over people on the internet knowing who I am in real life than many I talk to, it still invokes a bit of the fear of the unknown to imagine an internet where anonymity is not even an option.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010


No, not Europe only. I don't know why the admin posted the EU BattleNet link, which is where I got mine.
posted by waraw at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2010


As I've gotten older, I've come to enjoy using my real name on websites. If I don't feel comfortable speaking as myself on a particular site, I probably don't want to post there anyway.

That said, I'm kind of glad I had anonymity when I was posting as a 17-year-old. Anybody wanting to connect me to bad poetry and poorly conceived house D&D rules would at least need to do a little detective work.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


how do they know it's your real name?

signed, barrack obama
posted by pyramid termite at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I look forward to more sociopaths travelling 500 miles to burn down the house of those that insult them online.
posted by beardlace at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nothing can go wrong with this because anything Blizzard does is hax proof. Nobody will be able to circumvent RealID. The forums will be cleansed of evil. Free rainbow unicorns for everyone.
posted by Splunge at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Jumping into a thread to call your fellow users morons = doing it wrong, please cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because nothing tears aside the veil of anonymity quite like, "Bill Smith."

On the other hand, how much harassment will some poor schmuck go through who just happens to have the same name as some WoW forum troll before Blizzard says, "Who could have seen that coming?"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, this will solve nothing, and in no way make those terrible forums a positive environment, as the people who are trolling them will now be able to look at your real name, find you on facebook or whatever and then make jabs at your actual personal life, rather than your WoW character.

Delete my comments all day, you know I am right.
posted by Palerale at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think it's an interesting change, it definitely feels strange as a Warcraft player (behold, I am Twilight Vanquisher Flyv).

Blizzard is much more ambitious with Real ID than just Warcraft forum trolls. Despite years of trying, there's still no good online social network for games. There's Steam and Xbox Live and Gamespy, but none of those are really vital. Now that Blizzard's about to launch Starcraft 2, then Diablo 3, then the as-yet-unnamed-MMO, they're trying to figure out how to get the 12 million people and their social relationships out of just Warcraft and in to the broader Internet. I wish 'em luck, but honestly I think it won't be any more successful than the other game networks. We'll see.
posted by Nelson at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2010


how do they know it's your real name?

signed, barrack obama


People usually are able to spell their own name correctly.
posted by explosion at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2010 [39 favorites]


The nut of the decision:
[...] 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.
(my emph.) Oh, man. That's a tremendous irrelevant conclusion. You'll just go from knowing "Grabby Rimbiter is a tremendous troll" to "Jon Doe is a tremendous troll". This has to be a feint for something else.
posted by boo_radley at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2010


how do they know it's your real name?

Because it's tied to a credit card, for one thing.
posted by kafziel at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]



I'm not a big fan of the real ID. Mostly, its the lack of granularity in the privacy that is at issue. It allows everyone to see every toon you have everywhere, and when you are logged in - which means that when you grant someone access, you grant them total access.

The real name thing I don't care so much about, but, if I do try to keep my WoW playing somewhat confidential - being a gamer is still considered something of a no-no if you're a middle aged adult who likes to be hired, and so I guess, if Blizzard really wants to do that, I'm going to have to reconsider my participation there.

That having been said, the WoW forums are some of the most over-moderated places on the internets. They are not interested in the conversation; you will hew closely to the rules, or your post and/or posting rights will vanish into the ether.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Before the financial crisis I bet you could've gotten a credit card under the name "Deathblood Blackaxe"
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


So ... there'll be a mass exodus from their official forums to some unofficial forums?
posted by komara at 11:18 AM on July 6, 2010


how do they know it's your real name?

Credit card authentication probably. I'm not familiar enough with WOW to know if you can create an account 'anonymously' using game time cards or if they require a credit card for authentication regardless of payment method.

Hhow this will work for the hardcore roleplayers that prefer to post in character? EVE Online has a cadre of players that stay in character even if it means losing an entire region (*cough* CVA) because roleplaying trumps game mechanics for them. I'd imagine WOW would be even worse.

And who wants to post on some online forum with their real name anyway? What kind of loser does -- oh nevermind.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2010


Before the financial crisis I bet you could've gotten a credit card under the name "Deathblood Blackaxe"

You've seen too many CapitalOne ads.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:21 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's my understanding that an individual can have n accounts and m toons per account so one meat sack could be behind m*n troll accounts. Could this be a way to collapse some of those multipliers?
posted by Skorgu at 11:22 AM on July 6, 2010


Oh man. I really want to see the data regarding male vs. female posting rates before and after this shift.

I probably don't, because it would make me predictably angry.

Gender is the primary bit of metadata attached to names, followed somewhat by nationality. If it was the case that forcing real names, forced women to either:

a) Receive sexual harassment
b) Not participate in forums

...then this really is a more significant move than it seems. Of course, if women are avoiding these forums because they're unmoderated, there could be an opposite effect.

Thus, me saying this data would be really, really interesting to see.
posted by effugas at 11:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


they are updating their server system, BattleNet, to use a real-name identification system called RealID

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


how do they know it's your real name?

Because it's tied to a credit card, for one thing.


So a bunch of 14 year old trolls will suddenly be posting under their mother's name? Delicious.
posted by unsupervised at 11:31 AM on July 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


So a bunch of 14 year old trolls will suddenly be posting under their mother's name? Delicious.
posted by unsupervised at 2:31 PM on July 6 [+] [!] [quote]


Too easy. Pass.
posted by Splunge at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


In a couple of forums I frequent, people use their real names. It is a small help towards civility, but honestly the major part of that is really hardcore moderation. I'm neither here nor there about using real names, but here's a thought:

If someone wants to troll you outside of the forums - they NOW have another piece of data to look you up with. And it's not like WOW players haven't shown up at peoples' doors to start trouble before already.
posted by yeloson at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before the financial crisis I bet you could've gotten a credit card under the name "Deathblood Blackaxe"

Hey, that's my name!

Seriously, this is the stupidest idea ever and I cannot believe anyone at Blizzard thought this was a good idea.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can look forward to my hometown producing more of this kind of winner content now. Yay. Warning, very, very, very nsfw.
posted by TomMelee at 11:44 AM on July 6, 2010


I'm completely and totally in favor of this.

Todd Lokken
posted by educatedslacker at 11:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Delete my comments all day, you know I am right.

Clearly you're the go-to guy for engendering a spirit of open discussion and community.
posted by yerfatma at 11:50 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not positive how the WOW forums work - are you able to create a number of different profiles to log in with? If so, this might actually help. Consider one of the strengths of MetaFilter - the fact that people tend to keep persistent identities here so that the record of their actions stand (BND's and sockpuppets aside). If you can only post under one ID, ever, then that pushes the accountability to a point where there is no hiding. If you get banned or killfiled, you can't go (easily) creating a new account to come back with - not without losing all of your characters.

It will be bad for community building, but I don't think that is their goal. The attrition rate will probably be terrible. It'll be interesting to see, but I think they will get much of the effect they are looking for, just along with lots of other unseen consequences.
posted by charred husk at 11:50 AM on July 6, 2010


charred husk, you are able to log in and post from any of your (potentially) legion "alts" in order to cover your tracks. However, you should remember to change your signature or else people will quickly figure out that you are in fact that dick-head gnome from before.
posted by Mister_A at 11:53 AM on July 6, 2010


are you able to create a number of different profiles to log in with?

Here is some perspective:

You only have your (one, or more) WoW account(s). You post in the forums as one of your characters. You can have tons of different characters.

People usually post under an "alt" so as to hide their identity of their "main" character... most people think that your fake WOW character's name is considered to be too private to put on the forums.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Mister_A. I'm only familiar with the pure anonymous trolling of the *-chans and other forums where logins are easily gamed as compared to sites like MetaFilter where logins are fairly persistent.
posted by charred husk at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2010


they are updating their server system, BattleNet, to use a real-name identification system called RealID

Previously.


... Beat me to it.
posted by Xany at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2010


"Oh man!"

-- Lord Ultradeath Milton Waddams
posted by Twang at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really curious where Activision's end game is on this: The FAQs talk on and on about making the game enviroments "more social" and getting a piece of the Facebook/et all networking. So, I'm playing Starcraft but my RL friend has me tagged and he's playing WoW and he can message me across platform.

The forums, though? Wretched hive of scum and villainy. On one hand forcing a forum of real names on gamers? lulz? On the other hand, this really would destroy the fake character/trolling.
posted by cavalier at 12:06 PM on July 6, 2010


how do they know it's your real name?

Because it's tied to a credit card, for one thing.


Not actually true. The "real name" is the name you provided when you created your account. You can pay for an account using a credit card with a different name, or you can buy game cards and never give Blizzard your credit card information. However most people have probably used their real name when setting up their account, especially those who have been playing WoW for at least a couple years.

I think this is an incredibly bad idea on Blizzard's part. It now becomes trivial to cyber-stalk that asshole rogue who stun-locked you to death then tea-bagged your corpse. A bit of googling with a real name, and perhaps past forum posts that may make reference to the country, state or even city where the person lives should make it a trivial affair. Go on facebook and get a picture of the person and you're ready to engage in some serious real world harassment.

And think about future employers who now use Google as a piece to their selection process finding all your WoW forum posts. That one where you raged about space paladins prior to Burning Crusade could come back to haunt you.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Need an alternate account, for reasons of your own?

Fear not! I hereby offer my Real Name for your use on WoW, for the one-time low price of $9,999. Payment plans available.
posted by sidereal at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2010


There's a liberal weblog I read where a handful of right-wing trolls who do not use real names have made personal attacks against other commenters based on their real names and knowing things about them. So I don't deny that this happens, and is a huge issue for people. But I also read a weblog where the commenters are required to use a real, full name. It's a better system than the former. I think the problem is that is has to be 100% either way. The problem with this idea of using personal information against a person is the leverage of how protected that other person is in using it maliciously.

If a person on Blizzard's forums reveals their real name, yeah, people can "find out" information about them, but that information is mostly culled from other public information you would willingly put up about yourself on the internet - most likely a public Facebook profile. Knowing that ElderGod435 is actually Jim Stevenson is only as beneficial to you as the amount of personal information about Jim Stevenson that is readily available.

Of course, this also goes both ways. Bob Smith suddenly making comments about how Jane is a retard and sucks because she's a fat and ugly women instead of DeathD34ler means a lot of people all over the internet if they look up information about Bob Smith will find out Bob Smith is a fucking asshole.

It now becomes trivial to cyber-stalk that asshole rogue who stun-locked you to death then tea-bagged your corpse. A bit of googling with a real name, and perhaps past forum posts that may make reference to the country, state or even city where the person lives should make it a trivial affair. Go on facebook and get a picture of the person and you're ready to engage in some serious real world harassment.

I guess my shorter version is a response to this: in this hypothetical, I really don't see how someone that obsessed with hunting down a person will find themselves blocked merely by the additional step of gleaning a real name from an online handle. Finding out the real name of a forum user is likely only infinitesimally more difficult than accomplishing everything else you suggested.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2010


ruthsarian: "And think about future employers who now use Google as a piece to their selection process finding all your WoW forum posts."

Or worse, they find out that you're that asshole rogue who stun-locked them to death. Good-bye employment.

But yeah - real names? Terrible idea. If they were to do this and allow for unchangeable aliases or something that might be approaching better.
posted by charred husk at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a great experiment and I'm glad that a major player like Blizzard is willing to try it. Are we willing to just accept that people are and will always be worse than real life in the internet? There has to be causes and factors to it and we better learn to handle them. Blizzard is tweaking one possible factor in a big scale. It may not work, but at least then we know that The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory doesn't hold, and we must update to a better theory.
posted by Free word order! at 12:21 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see Blizzard allow you to choose a single username to associate with your Real ID account, rather than forcing us to use our real first and last names. It preserves the privacy and safety of the individuals while still significantly reducing the trolling that comes with unlimited alt profiles.

So essentially, I'd like to see it set up just like Metafilter!
posted by platinum at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


As long as metafilter doesn't make us use our real names. I'd hate that.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clearly you're the go-to guy for engendering a spirit of open discussion and community.

I try.
posted by clearly at 12:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


from the RealID FAQ: What can I do if another player is contacting me through the service and behaving inappropriately?

Funny how there's no section on "What can I do if another player is contacting me outside the service, and is standing outside my house with a gun, because you gave him my real name, and he figured out how to use the google's to find where I live?"


Canceled my pre-orders for Star Craft II and the WoW expansion (don't tell them I probably was going to cancel anyways out of lack of interest =p ).
posted by nomisxid at 12:37 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a liberal weblog I read where a handful of right-wing trolls who do not use real names have made personal attacks against other commenters based on their real names and knowing things about them

Metafilter?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a great experiment and I'm glad that a major player like Blizzard is willing to try it. Are we willing to just accept that people are and will always be worse than real life in the internet? There has to be causes and factors to it and we better learn to handle them. Blizzard is tweaking one possible factor in a big scale. It may not work, but at least then we know that The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory doesn't hold, and we must update to a better theory.

There are certain instances where it does work though. Make people pay to use the forums and you'll see trolling dry up. The only problem is that Blizzard already makes people pay to use their forums, it's just as a secondary service to the server-time that they already rent them.

I would say that giving real-account punishments for trolling (like down to the main, primary account, or even banning credit card numbers for repeat offenses) would work better, but I'm sure that Blizzard is too worried about how that would effect their customer base.
posted by codacorolla at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2010


Nelson has it - I'd bet money that this move has absolutely jack to do with making the WoW forums a more civil space (the very idea is a laugh) and everything to do with making more money. I picture the conversations in Blizzard conference rooms over the past few years, as Facebook and all its cousins started to dominate the internet. They knew they'd have to do something to stay relevant in a hyper-connected world, and this is their first stab at it.
posted by chaff at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Canceled my pre-orders for Star Craft II and the WoW expansion

My understanding is that it's only posts on the forum that will have your real name. You don't have to use Real ID to play SC2.

If you are not using Real ID, only the in-game character name and online/offline status of the character you are playing will be visible to other players, and only within that game.

Which is good, otherwise I'd be canceling my pre-order for SC2 as well.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2010


The nut of the decision:

[...] 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.

(my emph.) Oh, man. That's a tremendous irrelevant conclusion. You'll just go from knowing "Grabby Rimbiter is a tremendous troll" to "Jon Doe is a tremendous troll". This has to be a feint for something else.
posted by boo_radley

You're just leaving this as an exercise for the reader, right?

But I don't care, I'll bite.

The something else it's a feint for is Blizzard's attempt to turn itself into a mini Facebook.

I've resigned myself to what is so attractive about Facebook as a business model remaining a mystery to me in this lifetime, but no one seems to be immune to it-- including Google, for God's sake.
posted by jamjam at 12:50 PM on July 6, 2010



There is a bug in the RealID system whereby all addons can access the RealID info. So it's possible for addons to read and share that info without you knowing about it.

If Blizz really wants to play Facebook's game, they should do themselves the favor of learning from Facebook's mistakes.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:50 PM on July 6, 2010


dick-head gnome

As a WoW gnome with a dick shaped head, let me just say should I ever run into you in game, I promise I will leap around you like crazy spamming "lol."

To be clear, I do this to everyone.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not a big fan of real id.. I socially game with a few people, but also had an alt I used when I just wanted to quest alone (because I was grouchy, or would only be on a for a short amount of time).

I didn't read how real id worked, and now those alts are out of the closet... not good in my opinion.
posted by Intrepid at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2010


And it's not like WOW players haven't shown up at peoples' doors to start trouble before already.
posted by hippybear at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is going to lead to an exodus of women, trans people, and anyone who doesn't want their employer to know how much time they spend in WoW. Bizarre idea, and I'll be amazed if it actually goes ahead given the outcry.

Also, as I spotted someone say on the EU forums, look forward to facebook comments, blog comments, emails, etc., trying to sell you gold.

I quit a while ago, and then Monster Hunter made WoW's boss battles look insubstantial and foolish, so no RealID for me!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, this is the stupidest idea ever and I cannot believe anyone at Blizzard thought this was a good idea.

Like a lot of other people, I blame Facebook's pernicious influence as they integrate services. It's easy to imagine some fun-sucking suit at Activision looking at how much business Farmville was doing via a social networking platform and deciding WoW should get a piece of that action. Facebook's policy of having members sign up under their real names is effectively unenforceable for the simple reason that no money ever changes hands. That, however, is definitely not the case for Blizzard.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:24 PM on July 6, 2010


Because it's tied to a credit card, for one thing.

Oh man, I really feel for the parents who have their kids' accounts on their credit card.
posted by spec80 at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly you're the go-to guy for engendering a spirit of open discussion and community.
I try.


Getting sick of your transparent attempts.
posted by yerfatma at 1:31 PM on July 6, 2010


It does seem that's entirely possible to sign up to Battle.NET with a fake name so presumably people will just start creating fake accounts for the purposes of spamming the forums anonymously. None the less the forced invasion into peoples private lives is really pretty rude of Blizzard. If I was a bnet user I'd be seriously considering continuing my subscription about now.
posted by public at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2010


I keep my online life and my real life separate by personal choice. I'll quit the game before I allow Blizzard to decide my level of personal privacy.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


we should do this here; it might finally fucking kill "eponysterical"
posted by bonaldi at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you have an existing account you can't change your name. People like myself who have been playing for many years and have our real names on our accounts have no option to change them.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:34 PM on July 6, 2010


I'll quit the game

Quitting WoW is easy. I've done it hundreds of times.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


Yeah that pretty terrible, L'Estrange. On the plus side, I learned about Monster Hunter Tri in this thread. I will have to "buy this for the kids" soon.
posted by Mister_A at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2010


"The kids" will love it, but they may find it a bit tricky and a bit grindy. On the other hand, Rhenoplos armour!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Using fake names on your WoW account(s) carries its own risks; if you ever lose control of the account, due to being hacked or just losing the associated email, you need to prove your identity to Blizzard. That might require a lot of drivers license photoshopping if your name is fake.

The truly annoying thing about RealID is there is no middle ground which allows me to add people from outside the game without giving them full RealID access to my personal information (and current cyberspace whereabouts). It literally prevents me from integrating my existing social networks if I desire even a modicum of privacy. It's a terrible system which Blizzard continues to make even worse, betraying a total lack of understanding of what makes Facebook appealing (and what makes Facebook evil).

The whole goddamn point of Facebook is to profit from demographic statistic collection and subsequent targeted advertisements. Why dabble in the model otherwise? Blizzard already has the former, and can't honestly be planning to do the latter, can they? As humorous as billboards in WoW would be...
posted by mek at 1:54 PM on July 6, 2010


people will quickly figure out that you are in fact that dick-head gnome from before.

Aren't all gnomes dicks though? Sitting there, in the garden, with their little pointy hats, looking all smug. Some of the little fuckers even have tools and stuff, not that they'd use them to help out, oh no, they just like to to show you "Hey, I've got this rake, and I'm not gonna do shit with it! Fix your own yard human!"

Little bastards.

I'd put out traps for them, but I've seen them looking at me from under the hedge, and I think they might be plotting something. I'm afraid hunting them might escalate this beyond a safe level of general hostility.
posted by quin at 1:55 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll quit the game

...but you just lost the game.
posted by hippybear at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2010


Let's say that Blizzard loses 50% of their customers over this. That won't happen, but let's posit this for the sake of discussion. That would leave their user base at somewhere around 5.5 million users; head and shoulders above any other pay-to-play MMO, and still generating revenue at a mind-bending rate.

This is a pretty low-risk move. It will suck for some people, but I think that, overall, the forums will be a better place for it.
posted by DWRoelands at 2:01 PM on July 6, 2010


Not for women.
posted by waraw at 2:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Serious question: How will this policy affect people who want to play the game but have no interest in participating on the forum? (Or do these people just not exist?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:13 PM on July 6, 2010


Yep, Monster Hunter Frontier looks very cool. I may have to drop my Star Trek Online subscription and give it a try. Thanks AOK.
posted by Splunge at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


DWRoelands, I think a 50% hit would be catastrophic, and threaten the survival of the platform and potentially the company; even a 20% hit would result in scaled back service and support. For whatever reason, Blizzard does not anticipate this kind of defection. Or, they anticipate an uptick in new subs to balance losses. They're not idiots—I wonder what is driving this? Why do they think this will be a net plus for their company? I sense some huge promotional tie-in...
posted by Mister_A at 2:16 PM on July 6, 2010


FoB, that's a great question. They may have found that only 5% of accounts ever log in to the forums or something like that. It would be interesting to know this...
posted by Mister_A at 2:17 PM on July 6, 2010


Warcraft isn't going to lose subscribers to the game because you have to post via a Real ID. Some tiny fraction of the 12 million WoW players even visit the forums.. Maybe 1%? And some tinier fraction yet care about posting to them. This change will have no impact at all on their subscriber base.

The other change, mentioned here, is that you can give your friends access to you via Real ID in game. This is strictly optional and a brand new feature, but so far no one I know who plays is using it. If that were mandatory I could see it affecting subscribers, particularly accounts for children. But Blizzard isn't requiring Real ID in-game, it's optional.

Anonymity and pseudonymity are double edged swords in online communities. I've got social relationships going back 3+ years in Warcraft and I'm cautiously optimistic that I can enjoy those relationships beyond whatever alt I happen to be playing this month. Still, it does seem weird for a fantasy roleplaying game to require sharing a real identity.
posted by Nelson at 2:22 PM on July 6, 2010


Monster Hunter Frontier, the PC version, is Japan-only (for now?). The PSP and Wii versions are out in the west, though.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2010


And yeah, I'd love Frontier to come out here, since we have only one Wii and one PSP, but two PCs, so we could play co-op. *shakes fist at capcom*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mister_A: They're slapping down accountability onto a discussion forum that's only used by a small fraction of their clients and is notorious for people flaming each other and the Blizzard employees who post there.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:38 PM on July 6, 2010


Aren't all gnomes dicks though?

Rip-off dwarves that specialize in illusions and tinkering? Ugh. Gnomes are worse than elves and are actually somehow more likely to have a whole bunch of irritating "eccentricities" like having stuff they've built blow up at random or forgetting where they left their spanner so now I have to go through an endless series of tunnels to find some stupid hunk of metal that any member of a non-dick race would have bothered to check twice for before he left it right outside a dragon's lair and now it's my job to pick up after the Absent-Minded Douchebag because Namwocket is worried about getting burned alive, as if this is somehow my problem and I should shed a tear when the world could be rid of one more worthless putterer if he could be bothered to do anything for himself instead of relying on his betters to get him out of whatever ridiculous pinch he's found himself in.

Stupid gnomes.
posted by Copronymus at 2:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a bad idea for people for whom you can make a reasonable guess at ethnicity based on their first name or last name, who are going to see an uptick in race-related namecalling, and it's a bad idea for celebrities or even slightly well-known people who play WoW (I know several published writers who do). Bad, bad, idea.
posted by Jeanne at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Blizzard is much more ambitious with Real ID than just Warcraft forum trolls. Despite years of trying, there's still no good online social network for games. There's Steam and Xbox Live and Gamespy, but none of those are really vital. Now that Blizzard's about to launch Starcraft 2, then Diablo 3, then the as-yet-unnamed-MMO, they're trying to figure out how to get the 12 million people and their social relationships out of just Warcraft and in to the broader Internet.
Why the hell does everything need to be a "Social Network" now? I mean, why shouldn't I be able to pick some random name and join some random game and play against some people? Who says I even want to be friends in "real life" with people I play video games against? Maybe I'd rather not have my starcraft stats show up when someone google's my name, I mean given how facebook as steadily made more and more info public without telling anyone I odn't see why I should trust blizzard.

There's no real value for the gamer in being non-anoymous. Maybe there's some value for blizzard or something, but I actually doubt it.

Of course this is just for forums, which isn't a big deal, since there are obviously other places you can talk about games online. I'd be pretty pissed if they required you to use your real name in game.
Because it's tied to a credit card, for one thing.
Except credit cards aren't actually tied to your name. You can order an extra card with whatever name you want on it. And also, the way credit cards are authorized online, you do not need to enter your name as it appears on the card at all.
If a person on Blizzard's forums reveals their real name, yeah, people can "find out" information about them, but that information is mostly culled from other public information you would willingly put up about yourself on the internet - most likely a public Facebook profile. Knowing that ElderGod435 is actually Jim Stevenson is only as beneficial to you as the amount of personal information about Jim Stevenson that is readily available.
Yeah, but now you know one more thing about Jim Stevenson: everything you know about his WoW account. So for example if he was playing during work hours, you could call up his boss and narc on him for playing at work.

If you have a beef against someone and you're a psycho, there's a lot of crap you can do to harras them. People get emotional about games and who knows what kind of nutcase you might be dealing with. Sure most people are normal but what about that 1% who's not?

That 1% isn't going to randomly guess a name and look them up on facebook, but they might decide to harass the person who killed them and stole all their crap in some online game.

I was looking forward to SCII comming out, although I'm a bit aprehensive now. But if this is just for the forums, I don't really care becuse why even bother posting there? If they were going to make a wide move become facebook like over their whole platform, that would just be obnoxious. What's next, for pay addons like all the obnoxious facebook games?
posted by delmoi at 4:17 PM on July 6, 2010


StupidDead gnomes.
posted by Sparx at 4:17 PM on July 6, 2010


It has begun.

"It's a nightmare that blizzard even thought this was acceptable on any level... The parental settings are almost nil. I decided it would be okay if my oldest son (16) was able to decided who he added for himself. He added his guild leader and I saw no problem in this matter. He added his older sister (24) and added me.

My daughter is now in the process of opening a ticket (8 day wait minimum) while trade chat runs rampant with her home address (thankfully not correct as she put it...), phone number, and real name.

How did this happen?

The guild leader decided it would be fun to tell people her name because she was a female. From Monica xxxxxxxx and a quick Facebook and or Google search they pulled up her life story and spammed it across trade.

Not 24 hours after it's release and my mistake to allow a 16 year old to add his sister and guild leader on Real ID *Really bull*%!#* already she's getting death threats and "pick up lines" on her cell phone (partly her own fault for having it on facebook...). Whitebooks (phone info), Google, Skype and Facebook. All you need is a name and a potential region to start looking and this happens.


It'll be very interesting to see if Blizzard doesn't end up changing this policy. There are too many non-Blizzard employees who will have access to people's real identities and who face no real world penalties for spamming customers' personal information across the internets. They've basically empowered every troll on their forums.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


They've basically empowered every troll on their forums.
Yep, this. The problem is that the trolls can still abuse the RealName information anonymously. Who is to say who spread your name everywhere?

A better method might have been to have kept the threat of exposure handy. Act like a tool? Find your name changing to "James Miller of Oregon" overnight. Put the fear of Mod into the kids.
posted by bonaldi at 4:49 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not for women.

This is not in evidence and probably, I think, wrong. Do you think Metafilter is a better or worse place for women to post because we do not allow anonymous comments? Pseudonymous ones, yes, but not anonymous ones. I'm a huge fan of using real names online. 20 years of being online leads me to believe that the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is right on the mark.

Anonymity is great if you're a Chinese dissident. Most people aren't dissidents, they're just assholes who want to call other people fags without consequence.
posted by Justinian at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Justinian: "I'm a huge fan of using real names online."

Well met, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus! ... wait, that's not real? But your profile says so! Don't tell me this isn't really your webpage. Yes I see your real name hiding there in your email address. I'm just foolin'
posted by barnacles at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2010


Yeah, I used too much shorthand. It's the linking of pseudonyms to identity that I like, not necessarily posting under "John Smith" or whatever your name is. That would get boring. But having your pseudonym tied to your actual identity promotes community.
posted by Justinian at 5:02 PM on July 6, 2010


Chiming in as an on-again-off-again hardcore female WoW player; this is frightening. I don't mind my guild knowing my name and gender, hell I don't even mind my server knowing for the most part. But there is no reason - absolutely no reason - that my first and last name should be posted site-wide across the forums. I'm not a troll (for the most part, kekekeke), but realm forums are littered with call-outs and personal attacks at a player's expense. If you're involved in the community at all, you'll know who the "bads" are before you even reach level cap or as soon as you transfer to the server.

It is tied to my Facebook and professional endeavors. I do not want someone calling me out for being a terrible healer and me calling the group a bunch of undergeared nubs showing up in Google indexes when I go to apply for jobs. I don't want all of the times I've been told that I'm obviously some 'fat, loser mongoloid who can't get a boyfriend' being available for all of my future boyfriends.

I get enough whispers in-game from people who heard from someone that I was a girl (wat?). I've dealt with enough sexual harassment in-game and on the forums to know that this scares me (and I don't get it as bad as others have). Even though the perpetrators' names will be as public as mine doesn't make it enough. I'm sure a lot of women will get unwanted communications from other players - even just simple things like, "Oh wow, I've seen your char running around for years - I had no idea you were a girl!"

I mean, even outside of gender, I feel bad for all of the people across all of these servers that everyone has been making fun of for years. Sure, some of them kind of bring it on themselves, but being an unknown avatar in the game might be the only thing going for them. It is one thing to tell "Elfdude" to kill themselves, it is another to tell "Richard Mulligan" to kill themselves and spamming found [generally embarrassing] social networking photos.

Jeanne makes a great point about celebrities; a lot play. I didn't even think about that. How awful.

I know I will be following this closely.
posted by june made him a gemini at 5:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


Not for women.

This is not in evidence and probably, I think, wrong.


I'll argue that. Every time I am identified as a woman in game, either through saying something in chat or going on vent for a raid, I pick up a few harassers. This can be whispers, overt statements in chat specifying/requesting physical acts, or even a raid kick because "girls can't play."
Being female, older than mid-twenties and/or of noticeable ethnic origin *does* open you up to harassment in WoW. Most choose to keep such personal details to themselves to keep the can of worms sealed.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


In-game harassment is a different kettle of fish entirely.
posted by Justinian at 5:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting your experiences as women playing WoW, June, L'Estrange. Warcraft is unusual in that it has so many girls and women playing it, way more than most online games. I'd hate to think Real ID would change that.
posted by Nelson at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2010


Just quit WoW a week ago, wish I could have done it today so I could tell them I quit because of this. It will be godawful for female players, I have no idea how they even stand it how it is now. They can barely even talk on vent with their own guild without getting crazies and that really pisses me off.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:18 PM on July 6, 2010


Also, while anonymity obviously does cause people do be more flamey towards Blizzard in their comments, it also allows people to be more honest sometimes.

I wrote a lot of comments that may have been interpreted as whining by the harcore via level 1 alt characters on those forums because as soon as you say something someone doesn't like they instantly go to the WoW armory and investigate your character to find any flaws with which to determine you are a noobie and attack you for that instead of your points.

Now the trolls will have your real life AND your armory to pick over. It just won't be worth it.

Anyone who seriously thinks that is a good idea, would you want that mandatory on MeFi?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:23 PM on July 6, 2010


Anyone who seriously thinks that is a good idea, would you want that mandatory on MeFi?

I would.
posted by Justinian at 5:25 PM on July 6, 2010


Sometimes, I feel like the people what run the Interweb don't actually use it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is not in evidence and probably, I think, wrong. Do you think Metafilter is a better or worse place for women to post because we do not allow anonymous comments? Pseudonymous ones, yes, but not anonymous ones. I'm a huge fan of using real names online.
That doesn't make any sense. Metafilter names aren't gendered. No one knows who is and isn't a woman unless they say so, most people don't even check the profiles for gender/picture when they're talking to someone. With this new system, everyone will know if you're female. And it doesn't sound like it's just on the forums either:
* Your Real ID friends will appear under their real-life names on your friends list, alongside whatever characters they're playing.
* With Real ID, friends can now chat cross-game, cross-realm, and cross-faction across all supported Blizzard games.
* See additional information on your friends list about what your Real ID friends are up to.
* When you agree to become Real ID friends with another player, both of you will automatically see all the other's characters on your friends list.
Ah, so it's "Value added" where the value is other people's private information. Now it does seem to be opt-in for now, but who knows if it's going to stay that way. It's bullshit that companies are doing this crap now.

(Secondly if you're going to artificially distinguish 'pseudonymous' and 'anonymous' the forums were always 'pseudonymous'. People posted with their character's names. When most people say "anonymous" they just mean not using their real, IRL name)
posted by delmoi at 5:32 PM on July 6, 2010


On every forum I've seen discuss this today, I've seen stories similar to L'Estrange's. So I'm pretty sure I'm not wrong.
posted by waraw at 5:34 PM on July 6, 2010


we should do this here; it might finally fucking kill "eponysterical"

I for one value the contributions of, for instance, gay and lesbian members who might feel less free to contribute candidly using their real names.
posted by straight at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was looking forward to SCII comming out, although I'm a bit aprehensive now.

There's no reason to be apprehensive, RealID is entirely optional unless you want to post on the forums and then it will only show the names that you used to create your account. If you are really paranoid about security you can create a new battle.net account when you purchase Starcraft II with the name John Doe.

This is a bad idea for people for whom you can make a reasonable guess at ethnicity based on their first name or last name, who are going to see an uptick in race-related namecalling, and it's a bad idea for celebrities or even slightly well-known people who play WoW (I know several published writers who do). Bad, bad, idea.

This isn't really a problem, RealID is optional and will only show your real name if you post on the official forums or authorise people ingame

Chiming in as an on-again-off-again hardcore female WoW player; this is frightening. I don't mind my guild knowing my name and gender, hell I don't even mind my server knowing for the most part. But there is no reason - absolutely no reason

The entire idea of posting your real name on the forums is to add some personal accountability. Anyone who has been to the official WOW forums would understand that one of the biggest problems they have is people posting under level 1 "alts" to either troll or just plain abuse people. There's even been people who comment on their own threads on other characters trying to offer backup to their point.

"It's a nightmare that blizzard even thought this was acceptable on any level... The parental settings are almost nil. I decided it would be okay if my oldest son (16) was able to decided who he added for himself. He added his guild leader and I saw no problem in this matter. He added his older sister (24) and added me.

Parental controls if enabled disable RealID being used, if you have kids and they play WOW these should be enabled as you can set limits on how much they can play.

The guild leader decided it would be fun to tell people her name because she was a female. From Monica xxxxxxxx and a quick Facebook and or Google search they pulled up her life story and spammed it across trade.

Revealing personal information ingame in this way is very serious and if anyone does this they should be reported.
posted by MrCynical at 5:39 PM on July 6, 2010


I'd sure like to hear a fly-on-the-wall account of how Blizzard composed this policy. They must have known from the start that the sorts of harassment issues that are already cropping up in this thread would be ubiquitous. There must have been some extremely compelling argument on the other side, probably targeted advertising revenue.
posted by chaff at 5:42 PM on July 6, 2010


Anyone who seriously thinks that is a good idea, would you want that mandatory on MeFi?

I would.


So no more anonymous AskMefi? No more sockpuppet so I can answer the questions about my weird and disturbing sexual fetish? No more sockpuppets at all?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


RealId ingame is indeed opt-in, but it has some horrendous side-effects for those who choose to use it: if I share my RealId with a friend inGame and he shares his RealId with another friend, that friend can see MY real name. Consent gives far more away than it would immediately seem.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:49 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This isn't really a problem, RealID is optional and will only show your real name if you post on the official forums or authorise people ingame

Right, so it's optional but you have to give up your ability to post feedback to Blizarrd on the forums, which they actively read for sure unlike unofficial forums.

You have to give up your ability to ask for help on the official forums, which isn't the best at it but I played for years and they always did it better than anyone but Elitist Jerks (who are jerks to noobs) or the SomethingAwful WoW forum which you have to pay to post on.

Now, for the female players especially, what do you do when a guildmate wants to be authorized? Do you trust this person? I've certainly found out people I thought I knew in my guilds turned out to be scumbags. Do you say no and promote guild strife that way?

What happens when you leave the guild for some reason and some of the assholes who always overreact to that sort of thing...overreact?

Look, I have plenty of WoW friends in my facebook, but only the ones I've known for a decade now, no one from my most recent guild because who the fuck knows who they are.

It may be optional, but all options are bad.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:53 PM on July 6, 2010


Anyone who seriously thinks that is a good idea, would you want that mandatory on MeFi?

MetaFilter is the first web site I've ever signed up to using my own name. I've been on messageboards since I was thirteen years old. I was moderating forums under a pseudonym, and running sites of my own, since fifteen. Even when I started using my name on my own web site, I kept signing up under pseudonyms, then maybe stating my name in my profile.

Disclosing your name ought to always be a personal choice on the part of the participant. The Internet doesn't exist so we can get to know each other in real life: It's a way of connecting us all without real life getting in the way. When I was thirteen, I'd have been terrified of going by Rory Marinich online, even though I don't know if at thirteen I had any remotely stalkable information. So I'd have never taken part in that shitty RPG forum, never been referred to a slightly less shitty forum, never been bounced from there to Digg to Reddit to Hacker News to here. And HN, which was two years ago, was the first time I put my name in a profile, and even then I'm very happy the things I posted there aren't under my name.

We all have a right to say stupid things without it permanently affecting our lives.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


The "just don't post on the forums" trope presumes one will never need support, as the forums are the most expedient place to request and receive it.
posted by waraw at 5:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I disagree with Justinian that this will promote community and somehow halt these attacks. I've known a 'troll' for years who has a completely different name on Facebook because naturally guildmates knew his real one (which was quite the opposite from a generic 'John Doe') and eventually someone got irritated enough with him to post it publicly, so he went into hiding. For griefers, making adjustments like this is no big deal and the type of people that do it are either too dumb to think about long-term damage to their reputation or they realize their names are so generic that someone else will always occupy those top search results.

I know more than one female player that play male characters and don't talk in Vent because of a variety of reasons (one was trans, two were incredibly shy and one was honestly scared that if people found her photos she would be the joke of the server). I can't believe there were female CMs and GMs outside of all of the female developers that did not bring these points up, or if they were, why they weren't heard.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


what do you do when a guildmate wants to be authorized? Do you trust this person?

There's a lot more to it than that.

It's more like an STD analogy: Do you trust this person and everyone that they trust. When you give that guildmember access to your RealID info, you're also giving your real name to all of the guildmember's friends. [cite].

I was recently kicked off of Quora for not using a real-sounding name. If MeFi went real name only, I'd delete my account within seconds. I generally do not use my real name on the internet in places where strangers can find it. Period.

I've been "Toxic" online for more than 20 years, because I like to have a little bit of separation between my real identity and my online one. It's not that hard to find out who I am with a little digging... but since my moniker is also a fairly common adjective, it's actually quite difficult to find everything I've written on the internet.
posted by toxic at 6:02 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I feel that we should discount the argument that using Real ID is beneficial because it would stop trolling via alternate characters. Real ID doesn't fix that; tying you to a single identity does. Blizzard could easily have said that your identity will be determined by the character you have played the most hours on: no more hiding with alts.

Clearly, I think we can all agree, Real ID is a step further. Maybe they want fewer people to use the forums? Maybe they want to tie in with Facebook? I could not say for certain, of course, but I do think we should dispense with the thought that their primary motivation is to address trolling.
posted by moz at 6:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


june: Absolutely I agree that if all you do is make people use (what they claim to be) their real names you're asking for trouble. You have to actually moderate and make sure people aren't being assholes. If people must use real names and other than that it's a huge free for all, that's undoubtedly worse than allowing pseudonyms unlinked to a real identity.

The assumption that people will be forced to use their real names on forums but that nothing will be done to handle trolls, stalkers, and jerks seems rather pessimistic. It may be true, but that's a problem with whoever is running the forum not a fundamental problem with using real identities.
posted by Justinian at 6:08 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most servers have Facebook groups managed by the players themselves anyways, and people can choose whether or not they disclose their actual character names. If they're trying to tie it into Facebook (for whatever benefit they think this would have), they should just find a way to link to and/or communicate with these pre-made communities.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2010


Okay, here's something that's (allegedly) already happened

"It's a nightmare that blizzard even thought this was acceptable on any level... The parental settings are almost nil. I decided it would be okay if my oldest son (16) was able to decided who he added for himself. He added his guild leader and I saw no problem in this matter. He added his older sister (24) and added me.

My daughter is now in the process of opening a ticket (8 day wait minimum) while trade chat runs rampant with her home address (thankfully not correct as she put it...), phone number, and real name.

How did this happen?

The guild leader decided it would be fun to tell people her name because she was a female. From Monica xxxxxxxx and a quick Facebook and or Google search they pulled up her life story and spammed it across trade.

Not 24 hours after it's release and my mistake to allow a 16 year old to add his sister and guild leader on Real ID *Really bull*%!#* already she's getting death threats and "pick up lines" on her cell phone (partly her own fault for having it on facebook...). Whitebooks (phone info), Google, Skype and Facebook. All you need is a name and a potential region to start looking and this happens.
So, real ID is optional, but apparently this person opted in somehow. And it's not just the forums, but your friends and all their friends. So this kid added his sister and mom, and then everyone who knows the kid knows these women. And they take the information offline and look up everything else about here there is to know. But blizzard can't find out who found her information off of facebook, and they can't monitor any offsite communications either. Again they can't monitor offiste communications. Even if the trolls who posted this girl's personal information should be punished, there's no way to do that if they used offsite communications.

And it doesn't sound like this happened from people using the forum, but rather some kind of "Friends list" feature, which probably applies to everyone.

Pretty stupid, and basically exactly what people in this thread predicted.

---

This is just incredibly short sighted and stupid. Another example of a corporation trying to take the information they know about people and turn it into a "Social Network", for no one's benefit but their own. Google Buzz's automatic 'followers' was similar, but not quite as bad.
posted by delmoi at 6:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


The thing that bothers me about this is that it makes people with unique names much more prone to privacy issues... if you have their RealID you can pretty much find anything. That and I'd hate to have to worry about something I said on the WoW forums coming back to bite me in a job interview or some other situation where an internet check may come into play.
posted by biochemist at 6:25 PM on July 6, 2010


Justinian: I can agree with this in professional communities, but WoW is entertainment. It is a place we go to get away from who we really are. What is this going to do for RP servers? They're completely disrespecting what it means to be "in character" and likely 'outting' a bunch of people who would rather remain anonymous in that regard.

I just don't think a company should be able to do this to a fanbase so abruptly and without option. The players, as a whole, are happy - our continued record-breaking patronage and $15/mo should be proof of that. It should also be enough to cover our identities and we should not even have to argue the points on why.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:28 PM on July 6, 2010


The stories from other women above aren't isolated, not remotely. I've experienced all of it, barring the horrific 'real name/address/phone number, etc. plastered across forums and chat'.

I played for about 4 years, pretty heavily involved in guilds, raiding, the general server community, whole shebang. And I didn't speak on vent for the first three years, because of what I saw the other women get when they did. Whenever people heard rumors I was a girl and asked me (this happened almost daily), I would reply 'I'm a 500 pound hippopotamus in a tutu.'

This might seem like paranoia, if you hadn't seen or heard about the nasty, harassing, sexually-spiteful crap nearly all the openly female players experienced. When I did start speaking on vent (even then, the only thing that made me was being made a guild class leader and needing to raid-lead in that role), the commentary on my voice, my accent, the relative sexiness of my body based off my voice, etc was constant. And this was from friends.

I never, ever spoke in vent on the occasions I went on open raids. Eventually I became a well known and popular enough player that I could rely on nearly any guilded player's officers telling them to knock off the idiotic behavior if they gave me crap, even aside from the tongue-lashing i'd give them myself.

And even after proving myself as a reasonably good player, becoming one of the most wealthy people on the server, becoming an officer in the guild, (all the things, in short, that one could do to prove their worth regardless of gender in a game)...there was still that day when one of my long-time guild friends got me to re-tell a story on vent so that he could get himself off to the sound of my voice.

Man, all I wanted to do was relax with buddies and play a game. This was from friends - can you imagine what the assholes in a game would do, given my real name and location?! (Not to mention potential access to my offline friends and workplace through Facebook)

Hell no, I wouldn't post on the forums now if you paid me.
posted by pseudonymph at 6:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


"Revealing personal information ingame in this way is very serious and if anyone does this they should be reported."

The problem is that Blizzard rarely takes reports seriously in the first place.
posted by keli at 6:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem is that Blizzard rarely takes reports seriously in the first place

I can assure you that isn't true
posted by MrCynical at 6:37 PM on July 6, 2010


I'm probably one of the few female WoW players that can say I've had almost 99% good experiences playing the game, but this might also be because I've played in GLBT-friendly guilds.

I still think this real name outing on the forums is ridiculous and wrong, for all the reasons that have been mentioned above.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:45 PM on July 6, 2010


I dislike this move on many levels. Although consistent, nontransient, unique identifiers are necessary components to building stable, civil communities, "real" names are wholly irrelevant to that end. And as many have pointed out, "real" names can be contrary to that goal.

Modern humans--especially modern ones--are familiar with and adept at mechanisms for keeping various spheres of their lives--and various aspects of their selves--separated. There are many valid reasons for doing so. Emotional reasons, social reasons, psychological, intellectual, logistical, practical reasons. *Lots* of valid, nonsinister, ordinary reasons. Psuedonymity is often the best means of doing that. In the post-web world, I'd argue it's often the only way of doing that.

This notion that everything a person does--physically, virtually, professionally, capriciously, socially-must be coded in a database under a single linked identifier is odious. That everything a person does must be filtered through that single linked identifier and the service that encodes it is ugly. It's wrongheaded and I hope it devastates the businesses that think it's the wave of the future.

I'm glad that I'm middle-class enough that when you have to pay a service to falsify an identity for you so you can continue to access various spheres of your self and your life with a degree of separation, I'll probably be able to afford at least one sock puppet.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can assure you that isn't true

I assure can assure you it is true, from my own experiences of reporting players for harassment and being told to just put them on my ignore list.
posted by keli at 6:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think a warning/suspension is really going to fix the fact that Monica is (at the very least) going to have to get a new cell phone number and dump her WoW character. The damage has been done.

There's nothing wrong with Blizzard's forums that strict modding and limiting people to one account wouldn't fix. As other people have commented above, this is more about social networking and the advertising/monetizing possibilities that lie therein than about forum trolls.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anecdotal and thus unlikely to persuade you, MrCynical - but i've been told the same thing as keli by GMs a number of times.

Eventually I stopped reporting people for all but the most egregious things, and just put them on /ignore. Even when I did report, they were rarely if ever actually banned. The GMs were sympathetic and friendly, but mostly unhelpful in that area.
posted by pseudonymph at 7:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


psuedonymph, that was so much more elegant that I ever could have put it. I have experienced very similar, and I hate having to second-guess connecting with male players if I enjoy their company because of what might happen. You get incredibly close to these people, and I'm not above or opposed to finding love there, but unwanted situations like these are not uncommon. I've even had guys I'd known in real-life for years use it as a safety net to test the waters with me, so the idea that it will make internet guys stop is hard to believe.

And why would you report someone that has grown to be your friend? You just hope the feelings pass and maybe stop talking to them for awhile.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:05 PM on July 6, 2010


"Revealing personal information ingame in this way is very serious and if anyone does this they should be reported. Revealing personal information OUT OF GAME in this way is very serious too AND WE CAN'T DO JACK SHIT ABOUT IT IF IT HAPPENS."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:05 PM on July 6, 2010


"Oh and the most we can do if you report someone is kick them out of the game, not do anything about the real world consequences."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:07 PM on July 6, 2010


Justinian: I can agree with this in professional communities, but WoW is entertainment. It is a place we go to get away from who we really are. What is this going to do for RP servers? They're completely disrespecting what it means to be "in character" and likely 'outting' a bunch of people who would rather remain anonymous in that regard.

I see your point. But I don't think the name on a post has much to do with whether the post can be in-character or not. Posting on an internet forum is inherently out of character, so the only thing that strikes me as mattering is the text in the post itself.

Certainly no-one had any problem posting in character in the online RPGs I was playing in the early or mid-90s, and the accounts posting the material were generally of the form firstinitial.lastname (i.e., I would have been d.bilek). You just signed the post with your character's name.

Also, I'm not sure it's fair to criticize Blizzard for disrespecting what it means to be in-character. From what I've seen, the players have generally done that already. The level of role-playing in the vast majority of MMORPGs is laughable.
posted by Justinian at 7:07 PM on July 6, 2010


I think the issues people are having shoudl be delineated. Anonymity isn't the issue: racism, and harrassment - especially sexual - is the issue. The onus should be on Blizzard (and any company, for that matter) to address those concerns, with or without anonymity.

If wow players were employees at a company, Blizzard would be sued into non-existence for the behaviours they tolerate and arguably systemically encourage. I believe that they (and any organisation) have a duty of care that extends to their participants to protect them from this, and I would be absolutely intrigued to hear from any lawyers about the outcome of a lawsuit against Blizzard for condoning and supporting harrassment/discrimination.

If losing anonymity is part of a broader move towards real life consequences for real life actions (and actions on the internet as just as much "real life" in this regard), than I support it. But to force the move to real names without the organisational, legal, social, cultural etc protections we enjoy when we use our names in real life is both wrong-headed, and in my opinion inherently unjust.

In most situations in real life, we trade up our anonymity because of the protections and benefits being named offers to us, and society at large. Without those protections and benefits, it's little better than identity-theft, literally the taking of someone's identity and its power away from them.

I feel this is connected to the disjunction between "real life" and internet (e.g police reluctance to prosecute for online harrassment etc) - a disjunction that is slowly disappearing; imho a good thing.
posted by smoke at 7:12 PM on July 6, 2010


I'm probably one of the few female WoW players that can say I've had almost 99% good experiences playing the game, but this might also be because I've played in GLBT-friendly guilds.

For what it's worth, that's been my experience as well, although I've not played in specifically GLBT-friendly guilds.

I have, however, pugged many raids — I did not join an actual guild until ICC was released — and have never gotten any untoward comments on Vent or kicks once it became known that I'm a woman.

I have no doubt at all that it happens, but thankfully, I would have to say that mistreatment due to gender is not universal.
posted by rewil at 7:23 PM on July 6, 2010


Wendell is a name that has many uses
posted by finite at 7:23 PM on July 6, 2010


It hasn't taken long for this policy to blow up in Blizzard's face, or at least the face of one of their community managers. This dauntless fellow tried to prove this real name/Real ID policy wasn't a big deal by publishing his full name on the forums. Unfortunately, it's a relatively rare combination of first name and surname - we'll preserve his anonymity here, as a formality - so it didn't take long for the WoW forum community to find and publish his personal information, e.g. address, age, family members' names and ages, traffic violations, Facebook page, Twitter account, favorite movies, TV shows, and music, etc. The WoW mods are now playing whack-a-mole on their boards with posts and threads containing this information, but they can't delete the numerous places elsewhere on the web where this information can be found.

This will Wendell...
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Justinian, the early/mid-90s internet vs. the internet today are completely different ballgames.

I roll on a PVP server, but I know that a good portion of the people that play on RP servers and post on their realm forums do take themselves seriously and that the GMs on them are often quite responsive to griefing and trolling that occurs because they are the very people who play on those server types as well.

Even Blizzard doesn't have the resources to manage and contain the inevitable consequences. Doktor Zed's post proves just that. Maybe they believe that in time, this will be the way of the internet, and the control you have over your information online will be more manageable, but it isn't right now. Not by a long shot. Leaving so many people so vulnerable to both personal and commercial attacks is unbelievable.

I still can't even believe this is serious. Maybe it's Activision flexing their muscles?
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:56 PM on July 6, 2010


Blizzard employee deletes his Facebook after his RealID, given voluntarily, reveals too much personal information.
posted by mek at 7:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Between the clear demonstration with one of their own employees about why this is a bad idea, and possibly having something like a large group of female players signing up in some way to a "guild" called WLW (Women Leaving Warcraft), I think Blizz will backpeddle on this to players being locked to a single forum pseudonym.
posted by Decimask at 8:11 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't play WoW at the moment. I played off and on (mostly on) for the first five years of the game, and I'll play again for a while once the expansion comes out, then probably quit again, etc. Anyway, especially a few years ago when I had the time and inclination to play more, I was fairly active on the forums. My husband still plays, and so do a ton of my friends. So I'm really familiar with how the forums work and what people are like there.

This is a terrible, terrible idea. Especially if the intent is to discourage trolling, there are much more effective solutions available. Some of the reasons why it's terrible have already been brought up, but a bunch of people who are obviously not familiar with the WoW forums have muddied things by making arguments based on incorrect assumptions, so for the sake of having an omnibus "this is why it's bad" post, here we go.


Incorrect Assumption #1: It's already easy to link WoW characters to their real life players.

That's just completely wrong. It's pretty difficult. It's impossible, in fact, unless someone outright tells you their real life name or e-mail address, none of which are available to fellow players. You have to ask someone for those things, and they have to willingly tell you. There are people I played with for years, even had their phone numbers, and I had no idea what their first names were, let alone their last names. For a while we had a guild leader who would delight in not telling us what his real first name was. I've also met nearly a dozen people from WoW in real life. People have different comfort levels about that sort of thing, but the point is it should be their choice.

When you see a character, either in-game or on the forums, you literally do not know anything related to real-life about that character, not even an IP address, unless they willingly supply that information. You don't even know what other characters are on the same account, much less what character belongs to what player. You'd have to work for Blizzard on the forums to see any of that information, and they're not allowed to disclose it. While it's true that an employee could just do it anyway, I think it's reasonable that people have some expectation of privacy in that regard. I'm not sure that I've ever heard of someone having their real life identity discovered without their willingly giving away obvious information, either their name or they're linked to their website and someone did a whois.

Keep in mind that few forums exist that display your full real-life name with your posts. You usually have some kind of username. Metafilter is like this. Maybe you can link that to an e-mail address and someone knows it's you that way -- and lots of forums will even keep that private if you want. But plenty of people -- for good reason -- keep their work and private e-mails separate. A lot of us cringe to think what others could dig up about us just using our e-mail address -- but let's be honest, it's because we either don't care that much or we've been sloppy. Both of those things are under our control.

The change Blizzard is making on the WoW forums isn't like that; it doesn't give you a choice except to stop using the WoW forums, or else lie about your name which isn't a great idea if you ever have a billing conflict or need to verify that you own the account. The latter happens whenever someone gets hacked, and people get hacked a lot, even smart computer-savvy people I'd think would never get hacked; once a few people I knew got hacked because someone inserted malicious code into a banner ad on a popular WoW website. The website fixed the problem, but still, everyone thought it was safe and it even took a while for anyone to figure out what had caused it. Point is: hacking is common and getting more sophisticated, you need your account info to be accurate.

So, right, the privacy-conscious people will stop using the forums. I just think it's ridiculous to force people's hand that way when it's not necessary.


Incorrect Assumption #2: People won't actually harass other people outside the game, come on.

This is just wrong. I don't know how else to put it. It's a lovely thought, but people go to great lengths simply to harass others in-game, and just handing the real name to them without their even having to do any work for it makes it easier to harass them outside the game. If you really, truly think it won't lead to harassment, you are underestimating both teenagers and angry, socially ill-adjusted people -- a ton of whom play WoW, alongside all the normal people. People already go to crazy lengths to e-stalk people and some of it already culminates in real life confrontations. I have trouble believing that anyone who says this has actually ever played an MMO, so if you haven't, please consider that you might not know what you're talking about and people aren't just paranoid and complaining about nothing.

And, more on this in a moment, but one really needs experience in the gaming community to comment on it. Particularly those in doubt of women being SEVERELY harassed in-game and, yes, on the forums. The gaming world is way more hostile to women than you think. I wish it weren't, I really, really do, and I know you mean well, but please do not say you doubt those things when I and other women have been through a lot in that regard. The WoW forums is not Metafilter by ANY stretch of the imagination. I would not mind my real name being on Metafilter and I've posted things here I wouldn't tell my mother, but I would probably cry if my real name was next to my WoW posts. It's not because I make a fool of myself on the WoW forums, either, but-- well, you'll see in a moment.


Incorrect Assumption #3: There's no good reason to keep your identity separate from the gaming community. If you're worried about someone from WoW finding you on Facebook, then why are you even on Facebook?

The answer to this is so long you'll just have to read my list of reasons why this is bad. The short version is: because the gaming community has a different culture than society in general, and it actually does make a big difference whether they know things that you don't try to keep hidden in real life. It's absolutely rational and sane to have 500 Facebook friends and not want anyone from WoW to know anything about you.


Reasons Why This Is Bad, Even If You're Not a Troll:
1. Girls are going to get harassed more than they already do. Just like in real life, while plenty of gamer guys are decent people -- gamer guys are the majority of my closest friends -- there are a ton of asshole gamer guys who make life hell for players who are openly female. Really, the gamer community is a much more hostile place for women than society in general. I never tried to hide my gender, so I have a ton of anecdotes I could tell you.

Here's the shit a female gamer has to deal with:
* People assume that you're not actually a girl, and you're just playing a girl character so you get "free stuff" from guys. This is actually the least bothersome thing. (For the record, I never got "free stuff." I think to get free stuff you actually have to cyber someone, or at least make them think you might, and I had no interest in any of those things.)

* constant requests -- some anonymous and some not, some crass and some just creepy -- asking for pictures, and these will not let up, EVER. In my case, the requests did not let up after five years.

* If you do post a picture (I never did) people either go nuts over how hot you are and won't leave you alone -- and the guys that perv on you treat you in a condescending way because hot=stupid; having to hear that shit addressed to other girls on Vent was really infuriating and uncomfortable -- OR they make a point of constantly telling you how ugly you are and won't leave you alone. There is no middle ground. They either want to fuck you or deride you. And it actually doesn't matter how hot or how ugly you are, either; the hottest girls will get called ugly (and FAT, ALWAYS FAT), and the ugliest girls still have to deal with lonely guys who aren't superficial. Any time the girl posts something thereafter, people will comment on her appearance, even though it has nothing to do with whatever is being discussed.

* if you don't post a picture they all sit around and speculate, and some people inevitably decide that you're not posting a picture because you're ugly, and therefore they don't like you. It does not occur to a great many people that a girl might not want guys bothering them for any reason. If you try to defend yourself, you're an attention whore.

Similar to pseudonymph, whenever someone asked me what I looked like I'd say something like, "I'm 350 pounds, all woman." Which always irritated me a bit: I said it because it was effective -- it made them less interested in asking, plus they usually thought it was funny and I didn't come across as prissy so it defused two concerns they'd have about female gamers -- but I didn't like perpetrating the idea that fat people are disgusting or something to be laughed at. I just never came up with another response that worked as well. :-/

* I got daily messages from people I didn't know because they liked my forum posts. This was bothersome for a few reasons. Some of whom were just normal people being nice and it was only bothersome as a distraction, but a fraction of them were lonely guys excited to be talking to a girl. The latter would bother me constantly. Other women I played with also dealt with these kinds of guys.

* If you ask someone to leave you alone, you're a stuck up bitch. That means you always have to be nice to everyone. This was both unfair and character-building, because now I'm really good at talking to and disengaging from socially ill-adjusted people without hurting their feelings.

* You are automatically a therapist and guys come to you for advice. This isn't so bad when friends do it, but you also have to patiently listen to a lot of emotionally-fragile guys you don't know very well. If this were infrequent it wouldn't be so bad. When it's constant and it's using up leisure time that you wanted to spend actually playing the game, it's really draining.

* People assume that you're bad at the game; they assume that any gear you got was given to you because you're a girl, and that your entire guild just started carrying you through raid instances because they were driven senseless by your siren song. It doesn't matter if you're in one of the top guilds in the US and doing content where you really can't carry bad players through. They can believe you're a good healer, sometimes. If you're a damage-dealing class they can't believe you could possibly be as good as a guy until they see raid reports. They will never believe you can tank.

* Some people think anything you do or say is attention-whoring, even if you never wanted the attention. If a guy makes a joke in a forum post, he's a funny guy. If a girl makes a joke in a forum post, she's an attention whore. If a guy makes a good argument in a forum post, he's a smart guy. If a girl makes a good argument in a forum post, she's doing it for attention. She's ESPECIALLY an attention whore if people like her or agree with her.

* Similarly, people assume that the only reason anyone likes you is because they're one of your fanboys. So people don't genuinely think women or funny or make good arguments, they're just fanboys. If other girls like you, then it's because women form cliques -- even if in the previous breath they were saying that women are all catty and hate each other.

* Even if people tend to assume you're male from your writing style, once they know your gender, some people tend to read everything in the shrillest way possible. You could literally copy and paste a guy's post and get an entirely different reaction.

* All of this applies to underage girls. I've played alongside 14, 15, 16 year old girls who would deal with all this horrible stuff every day. Often worse stuff really, since they didn't yet have the best handle on how to deal with it.

Want to hear some scary shit? One 14 year old girl whose father also played had to change her character's name and transfer her to another server because some guy was e-stalking her. If her real life name (or her father's name) were next to her character's name in forum posts she wouldn't be very safe right now, would she?

* For all of the above, it doesn't really matter much if you're married or in a long-term relationship. It doesn't stop anyone. The only real difference is that if you're married, people assume you're old and unattractive and probably controlling. (I stopped playing WoW when I was 24, and I'm about to turn 26.) Within my guild there was pretty much no fear that I was going to try to woo my way to anything at least, but outside the guild people keep thinking whatever they want.

I was really lucky to be in a guild with guys that AREN'T assholes, so I had a reason to keep playing even if random forum people would be assholes sometimes. For whatever reason, our guild was full of mostly rational, unprejudiced people; we would reject applicants that weren't those things. We were in a position where we could be that picky, but most guilds don't do well enough to get enough apps that they can afford to reject people for character flaws. Once our GM actually got on an app's case for creeping out the girls in the guild -- just basically warning him that he was not making us feel flattered -- and then he kicked him out of the guild a few days later when nothing changed; that GM had a pretty good understanding of what was skeezy and why we shouldn't have to put up with it. We were lucky for that, because the guy in question wasn't being crass or lewd, he was just kind of a stereotypical dorky guy who thought women liked to be treated like Renaissance maidens instead of people; he couldn't seem to understand we didn't want him to flirt with us even in a "harmless" complimentary way, that we just wanted to be left the fuck alone. One of the women in question wasn't even afraid to be really mean and condescending to him about it, and he STILL kept it up because he was too awkward to know how to do anything else. This is the sort of stuff we had to deal with.

Ours was an extraordinary guild, though; we've gone to great lengths to see each other IRL even since most of us quit WoW, and most guilds don't have that kind of protection and camaraderie. In most guilds no one would think there was anything wrong with that guy's behavior and we'd be too "sensitive" if we complained about it. For many girls, the solution is either to grit their teeth through it and say very little -- which isn't feasible if you want to raid, because any decent raiding guild requires you use a voice client. But if you don't want to raid, you can have male characters and just never disclose your gender. My primary character was female, but after seeing how that went, I made all my alts male just to get a goddamn break when I needed it. Several times when I quit the game it was because it had become too draining to deal with anymore; guys can just log in and have fun and log off, but girls have to log in and deal with everyone who wants to talk to them. After a while logging in meant I would spend all night typing while flying aimlessly around Shattrath instead of actually doing anything fun. I'm an introvert so I was especially worn down. You can't just not respond to people because they keep trying, or they think you're stuck-up, or they're seriously emotionally fragile and you really don't want to hurt their feelings, and they can always ask someone else in your guild to make sure you're not AFK. It sucks. I mean, you can do all that anyway, if you want to get harassed.

The only way to play it if you're not going to lay low is to have a pristine rep, and it's constant work. I accepted that as a sacrifice for not hiding my gender and wanting to actually be able to talk to my friends on the forums like guys get to do. I never thought it was fair but I was able to weigh the consequences and make a choice. But if you attach real life names to characters, a woman pretty much can't post on the forums anymore unless they're willing to deal with all of the above -- plus more, since everyone can look up her name on Facebook and pick apart her appearance! All the women that lie low for their own sanity aren't going to have that choice anymore, even if all they want to do is help someone out on the forums, or make a post looking for or selling something, or what-have-you.


2. Minorities will get harassed.

A sizable portion of gamers are racist. (Sexism, racism, and homophobia are what make me most uncomfortable about the gaming community; in a serious way I feel more connection to gamers than any other group, so this pains me. Plenty of gamers are none of these things and I love them to death, but I think those same gamers realize what a huge problem it is in the community in general.) An even bigger portion of gamers are just not very racially sensitive -- they'll use "nigger" or "Jew" a lot, for example, even if they don't think they actively feel anything against those groups, because they think it's funny. In the same way that saying stuff is "gay" is especially pronounced in the gamer community, even the people that say slurs ironically or by force of habit inadvertently make actual bigots in the gaming community feel empowered because they don't realize other people don't mean those things like they do. It is much more common and acceptable to express racist opinions in the gaming community than society at large.

Plus -- I hate to say this -- I've found that a lot of people in that latter category who don't feel like they're actively prejudiced against minorities actually do think black and Mexican people in particular are stupid. I've realized that about some gamers I'm friends with and it's not a great feeling; you have to hang around them a while before something comes up that makes you notice it, like how they interpret a comment they overheard from a black person, that sort of thing. It's usually people that grew up around only other white people; gamers that grew up around minorities tend to use the slurs because they're using to trading friendly jabs with minority friends, and they aren't actually racist and know when not to use the slurs. Unfortunately, the obliviously racist gamers especially tend not to understand why you wouldn't want to say those things even jokingly to a minority you don't know; they don't think they're racist, so their reasoning is that people shouldn't take offense. But it can get really uncomfortable when it's clear to everyone else that they actually are a little racist and don't realize it, and it's just as hurtful as a real racist remark when they're trying to be funny and the assumption shines through anyway.

Putting people's real life name on their posts just encourages people to drag their race into the discussion, whether they're being hateful or just think they're being funny. I've seen Black and Hispanic gamers in particular get a whole lot of crap already and they're often not forthcoming about their ethnicity. It doesn't even necessarily come through on voice clients so it's easier than hiding gender. Just like I don't blame women who chose to lay low so they can have fun playing the game instead of being drained by dealing with people, I don't blame minorities who do the same thing. They shouldn't have to deal with people's bullshit because their last name is Rodriguez or Goldstein.

And if anyone wants to say, "Well real life is like that," fantastic. WoW is a game. It's not supposed to be serious business. People play games as long as they're fun, and being harassed isn't fun. It's no one's moral obligation to be the banner-carrier for justice 24/7. If someone wants to make their gender or race (or sexual orientation) known in WoW so they can chip away at the problems in the gaming community, that's certainly praiseworthy. My guild was great so I and the other women and minorities and gays in the guild could feel a little more comfortable being open about that stuff. But it shouldn't be thrust on anyone.


3. You don't have to be a troll to not want your name attached to your posts. There is still a bit of a gaming stigma, and there is an especially strong WoW stigma.

I have friends that keep their WoW-playing secret. A lot of friends, actually. I think it's kind of silly but I understand the impetus because just like the gaming community has a different culture, they spend their real lives in cultures that stigmatize gaming. Some people deal with constant bullshit in MMOs because they're female or a minority or gay; some people deal with constant bullshit IRL because everyone they know thinks only losers or people with mental problems play MMOs. Several people in our guild were in the armed services and kept WoW a secret because the attitude toward MMOs was so negative there. Other people have relatives who literally think things like WoW are demonic.

Hell, even within WoW there is a stigma against playing it too much. I was in the top raiding guild on our server and we were constantly having to deal with people saying, "You're only doing so well because you play so much!" We were constantly struggling to finish everything for the week in two evenings just so we could say, "NUH UH, we play less than you do, you're just bad!" And then guildies would gossip about the few people in the guild that really did play constantly -- there were always a couple. If someone had some awesome item on their alt that you wanted for your main, well: at least you weren't a loser that played everyday like they did -- I mean you get laid at least, goddamn, you're too busy being cool IRL to have a good alt. Playing WoW is considered waaaay less cool than playing anything else.

Outside of WoW it's worse: for non-gamers, WoW may as well be the only MMO anyone has ever heard of, and they haven't heard good things; finding out someone plays WoW isn't like finding out they played Uncharted. Employers who don't know any better might feel apprehensive about hiring someone who plays WoW since the stereotype is that WoW players are irresponsible and end up losing their jobs. Sure, every now and then it might work in someone's favor -- I've had bosses who play WoW, and some of my husband's NASA colleagues do too -- but it should be someone's choice whether they reveal that sort of thing.

Again, I'm all for being open about things in order to change attitudes, but it shouldn't be forced on anyone. You don't have to actually feel shame for playing WoW to want to avoid dealing with bullshit from judgmental people; I'd argue that anyone who doesn't feel shame would be making a rational decision to avoid engaging with small-minded people on the topic. I mean, how many of us avoid talking about politics or religion? Most of us aren't ashamed, we just know it would be a contentious waste of time if our granny knew we we didn't hate gay people. And for the smaller subset that actually do feel shame -- and yes, I know some of those too -- "you shouldn't be such a wuss" doesn't outweigh privacy anyway. People should be able to be wusses if they want.


4. A lot of parents are going to have their teenager's posts linked to their name because their name is on the account.

Best case scenario is that the teenager is a perfect angel on the WoW forums, and everyone still sees a ton of WoW posts attached to the parent's name in Google searches. Bad for all the reasons above.

Less-than-best case scenario is the teenager engages in some colorful gamer humor, which, even if it isn't racist, is probably mildly sexual and insulting. Not really something you want appearing in an employer's Google search, or that you want your friends and family finding.

Worst case scenario is the child says some crazy shit and the parent looks crazy.


5. People who don't play WoW will get harassed or have WoW associated with them if someone else with the same name posts on the WoW forums.


6. If you're able to easily lie about your name in the forums to get out of privacy concerns, that just opens another can of worms.


7. It probably won't do that much to stop trolling.

If you're able to change what name is displayed, it won't stop trolling at all. But even if you can't change what name shows up, plenty of people already get a second account to post from and will keep doing that; this, of course, is also an option for privacy-conscious people, but they shouldn't have to pay more money when they're not doing anything wrong.

Plus there are people who don't care if you know their real name as long as you don't know what character they play; they're worried about in-game ramifications if people don't like them -- i.e. people won't let them into their group, or their guild, or they won't be able to sell anything. So while real life privacy is important to a lot of people, in-game privacy is just as important to others. (I think someone already noted upthread that some people prefer to keep all their forum activity separate from their main character, even when they're not trolling.)

Some people happily troll from their main already and just don't care that other people don't like them. When people troll on their main they're usually pretty polarizing and end up with as many friends as enemies, and some people are comfortable with that. My server had a guy that would be a troll on his main and I actually thought he was pretty funny, in a guilty pleasure sort of way; he would mostly bait people that were already raging about something stupid so it was hard to feel bad for them.

Will it stop some trolling, though? Probably. So would better moderation. So would a lot of things. Speaking of which...


8. There is a better solution.

Just let people see what characters are on the same account as the character that's posting. It doesn't violate their privacy nearly as much as the current solution and it would be enough to deter most people from trolling because they don't want their trolling associated with their main. All that'd be left is people trolling from dummy accounts, which it sounds like they can do under the new system anyway, so Blizzard would just make some extra money off crazy cowards.

Why in this world they thought this would be more appropriate is beyond me. I can't think of a single forum that I use that requires you to display you first and last name with your posts, and WoW sure as hell isn't important enough to warrant that.
posted by Nattie at 8:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [493 favorites]


Another thing to note is that a surprising amount of people that post on the forums, especially the Off-Topic one (enter at your own risk), don't even play the game anymore, they just pay to post on the forums with people they've met over the years. Sure, these people can go off and make their own forum, but hell - Blizzard is making $15/mo off of people who just sit around and troll in a place known for trolling all day.

And Nattie just owned this thread. Thank you so much; you hit every nail on the head.
posted by june made him a gemini at 8:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flagged as fantastic, Nattie. Someone should cross-post that to a the WoW forums.
posted by Decimask at 8:28 PM on July 6, 2010


"Want to hear some scary shit? One 14 year old girl whose father also played had to change her character's name and transfer her to another server because some guy was e-stalking her. If her real life name (or her father's name) were next to her character's name in forum posts she wouldn't be very safe right now, would she?"

Nattie, interesting that you brought this up, because that guy is still playing. He shunts around to different realms, but he's fairly notorious in each one he plays. Still, after all that the girl went through, Blizzard kept taking his money and has allowed him to play years after the fact.
posted by keli at 8:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait, the stalker in question still pays and plays? I didn't realize Arthas was actually the Lich Pope.

/long-lapsed Catholic
posted by Decimask at 8:38 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Keli: Wow, I wonder if we're talking about the same guy! I never expected him to do it again -- he seemed especially emo over this one girl in particular and I don't think he'd ever done anything similar before, but it was shortly after the game was released so I guess that was his first opportunity (in WoW, anyway). I do know that he still plays, and I know his guild and server.

You wanna MeFiMail me the server name or character name if you know it? I'm kind of sickly curious to see if it's the same guy. I don't know if I'd be surprised or not. The original guy was just kind of a sad case, not really realizing it was stalking behavior, not someone I'd expect to do it serially... but then again, with all the issues he had, I could see him falling into a pattern. Aw man, I hope it's not the same guy, I kept hoping he'd get some help with his issues. :-/
posted by Nattie at 8:39 PM on July 6, 2010


Blizzard employee deletes his Facebook after his RealID, given voluntarily, reveals too much personal information.

Christ, I didn't even have time to make popcorn.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 8:40 PM on July 6, 2010



Blizzard isn't going to back down from this. I think it will be a PR disaster, but it won't hurt them much.

Frankly, I think if they wanted to kill off their forums, the should have just done that, since that what this will do.

As for Blizzard not landing on harrassers - I know from personal experience (A couple of my son's friends) who got banned and suspended for stupid juvenile harassing behavior.

Not to defend Blizz too much - but having worked as a GM in the past (for GameStorm - remember them?) I suspect that the rules are applied fairly unevenly even in the best of cases. It's a problem of too many children and not enough nannies.

But this RealID thing is BS. There is no reason they couldn't use an account ID instead and allow people to use their real names if they like in place of that.

I get what Blizz is trying to do, but there are better ways to do it. They are really shitting the bed here, and I think its time for me and my son to find another game we enjoy together.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:10 PM on July 6, 2010


Pretty much everything Nattie said.

I think to get free stuff you actually have to cyber someone, or at least make them think you might,

In my experience over various games, I've had people just come and try to give me stuff out of nowhere. All while I was doing nothing out of the ordinary (and I've never had any interest in cybering either).

I always declined, except on occasions where someone was giving me a thank you gift for crafting some item (which I often did for people for free once I hit cap and had more than enough resources). Sometimes they insisted on a thank you gift.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:15 PM on July 6, 2010


I'm actually liking in-game RealID so far, though they really need to allow you to opt out of showing up on Friend-of-Friend lists. I've been talking to some people I haven't talked to in awhile because we both see each other logging into WoW.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:50 PM on July 6, 2010


Hitler hears the news.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Hitler's reactions will never get old to me, but that one was especially well-done I thought. Hahaha.
posted by Nattie at 11:17 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't play WoW; I used to, but got bored. I rather don't like this policy; I have a very uncommon name (according to Howmanyofme.com there are 24 people). If I give you my name, you will find my résumé on Google. If you have my name and state, then you will find other info on me. It took me three google searches to go from my full name and state to my Facebook profile, and I wasn't even trying hard.

Admittedly, it's even easier to go from my normal nick to my real name, so…yeah. It's not hard to find my name if you are looking for me, but with my normal nick it's because I use it all over and I'm used to it.

That said, it is NOT easy to find anything but my online persona; I've tried to maintain a policy of thoughtful privacy as long as I've been on the Internet and it's quite hard to find my home address or telephone number. I can't find them and I know what they are.

I seem to have rambled. My conclusions: Boo for forcing this on people who don't understand online privacy and haven't managed to keep their data out of the public sphere.
posted by caphector at 11:21 PM on July 6, 2010


Oh wow, Bashiok got pwned. I hope in my heart of hearts this whacks somebody with a cluestick upstairs.
posted by cavalier at 11:37 PM on July 6, 2010


I can sort of understand what Blizzard is trying to do here. With the current system, posts are identified by character and you can have a max of about 50 characters total across the system. Making a sockpuppet is trivially easy.

There are other ways to handle this though, and I'm thinking hard about renewing my subscription for the first time.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:47 AM on July 7, 2010


The "just don't post on the forums" trope presumes one will never need support, as the forums are the most expedient place to request and receive it.

Sadly not true, sure you can visit the Ingame Support and Technical support forums but you'll always get an answer quicker by contacting Billing or Tech support directly, also the great thing is you can still read the forums if you want and no personal information will be revealed!

I assure can assure you it is true, from my own experiences of reporting players for harassment and being told to just put them on my ignore list.

Anecdotal and thus unlikely to persuade you, MrCynical - but i've been told the same thing as keli by GMs a number of times.


I guess it would depend on the severity of the offence wouldn't it, I linked a specific mention in the policy about revealing player's real life information. Which I'm sure would be taken more seriously than some guy calling you a "dick" as that can easily be solve by you ignoring the guy. If you have any specific examples of someone revealing your or anyone else's personal information to the public and the action taken by blizzard I'm sure everyone here will be interested to hear it.

I don't think a warning/suspension is really going to fix the fact that Monica is (at the very least) going to have to get a new cell phone number and dump her WoW character. The damage has been done.

And both her and her parents have learned a valuable lesson. RealID has been coming for weeks, it was announced a long time ago to the public and recently every registered wow account was sent an email detailing these changes. The kid was naive enough to give out information to people that she shouldn't have as well as maybe having too much information. If the player was underage then the parental controls should have been enabled for the account as they exist for a reason.
posted by MrCynical at 5:16 AM on July 7, 2010


Blizzard isn't going to back down from this.

They certainly show no signs of backing down in this follow-up from the OP Blizzard employee on the thread:
Just to respond to those that don't think we read through all of these responses and threads, we do and have been. We will continue monitoring feedback as well.

We put a lot of thought into this change and have a long-term vision for the Real ID service and wanted to make sure that we communicated ahead of time and very clearly as to what will be changing and how. Keep in mind that posting is optional, and we recognize that some players will choose not to utilize the Real ID feature in game or post on the forums and support everyone's individual choice on using or not using it.

This is obviously new ground for us and for you as well, but we want to make sure we're creating a great social-gaming service that people will want to use. We just want to make sure that if people are sharing feedback, that they keep it constructive, and yes, as I said, we are reading.
They've got a lot of "feedback" to monitor. The thread is over a thousand pages already.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:20 AM on July 7, 2010


The kid was naive enough to give out information to people that she shouldn't have as well as maybe having too much information.

Mr Cynical, her name was revealed because of the "Friends of Friends" option. Her brother added both her and the guildmaster as friends and the guildmaster revealed she was female. What information did she "give out"? She had no control over her own info, which is why people are up in arms about RealID.

Also, for anyone who doesn't think this is about social networking, take it from the horse's mouth:

I would assume that the Facebook relationship would be used to draw more casual game players to Blizzard's games.

Absolutely. Our goal and vision in this partnership is to really to cross-populate the social networks and to easily find and add your friends from Facebook onto the new Battle.net service as the first step and extending it to other features in the future. … Later on, of course, we have lots of things we are talking about with Facebook. We haven't announced anything specific, but we have lots of ideas about ways to cross-populate and share data between the two services.


Cha-ching!
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Strangely enough P.Z. Myers weighs in on this.
posted by Splunge at 5:49 AM on July 7, 2010


furiousxgeorge: "

Now the trolls will have your real life AND your armory to pick over. It just won't be worth it.

Anyone who seriously thinks that is a good idea, would you want that mandatory on MeFi?
"

When I registered here I knew that there were many pseudonymous persons onboard. So I picked one that I often use online. I would have no problem with having my real name in front of my posts.

Having said that, I think RealID is going to crash and burn. OTOH I think that if it had to crash and burn anywhere, the WoW forums is a great place for it to happen. Not because I wish WoW players ill will. On the contrary, I used to play and still have many friends there. But because it's a perfect example of a worst case scenario. Some of the worst trolls I have ever encountered are on that forum. The industry is watching this with bated breath. Its failure will (hopefully) teach the people who need to learn.

Who am I kidding. It's probably the first of many mistakes just like it.
posted by Splunge at 6:06 AM on July 7, 2010


Mr Cynical, her name was revealed because of the "Friends of Friends" option. Her brother added both her and the guildmaster as friends and the guildmaster revealed she was female. What information did she "give out"? She had no control over her own info, which is why people are up in arms about RealID.

She had control over who she adds to RealID, if her brother is adding people he doesn't know or trust in real life then she shouldn't have added him it's that simple. It was a mistake and it sucks but it's not like blizzard didn't try to make this clear to everyone :/

I guess the biggest issue that comes from this is how much public information have you left laying around the internet
posted by MrCynical at 6:17 AM on July 7, 2010


Penny Arcade covered this issue years ago.
posted by neuron at 6:25 AM on July 7, 2010


And both her and her parents have learned a valuable lesson.

This is incredibly offensive. If her harassers had used her personal info to stalk and murder her, would you also just consider that another lesson learned?
posted by waraw at 6:32 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


My response to the "just don't use it" and "only add the tiny handful of people you can REALLY TRUST" crowd.

Yep, posted under an old alt to avoid people bugging me ingame.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:49 AM on July 7, 2010


I guess the biggest issue that comes from this is how much public information have you left laying
around the internet


It's more like Activision wanting a piece of the revenue pie that social networking games bring in and using their customers' personal info to grab themselves a seat at the table.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:13 AM on July 7, 2010


Seriously, gaming used to be fun.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 8:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have an idiot-proof solution for those who want to keep their anonymity: Stop paying for it. Stop playing it.

There are other free MMOs that are just as good, and you CAN keep your anonymity. Or, you know, go outside.

I never really got why people liked that game anyway. I tried it, it was lifeless and graphically boring.

(Save the defense of this crap game for someone who cares, please.)
posted by Malice at 8:38 AM on July 7, 2010


I've been thinking hard about this over the last 24 hours, and I've pretty much decided to suspend my WoW account over this. The game was already becoming unsatisfying to me, having seen almost all the content and lacking the time to invest in even the casual weekend raiding I was engaged in, but RealID is the final straw for me:

1) As noted elsewhere, their opt-in security is little more than obfuscation.

2) In terms of security, WoW is a hostile environment with an entire industry of black-hat phishing and trojan scams, including at least one successful attack on Blizzard's two-factor authentication. In my opinion, this makes FOAF discovery of identities extremely dangerous.

3) I think this policy does actively discriminate against people who depend on pseudonymity to protect themselves online.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:00 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


OK, this is creepy. I was just tooling around in Dalaran on my character "Flyp" when suddenly the following scrolled by in my chat box, in white:
BN_NEW_PRESENCE
1 9
2 Nelson Minar
BN_NEW_PRESENCE
1 10
2 Flyp
WTF? Seeing my real name inside WoW like that was a real shock. Despite me understanding Real ID and being totally OK with linking my real identity to my nerdy WoW toons. Very weird.

Apparently it's a bug/experiment in Deadly Boss Mods, a popular addon for raiders. A demo of Blizzard's bug. Or design choice? I'm not sure, but letting random addons access and share your Real ID info seems like a very bad idea. I didn't explicitly opt in to a damn thing and that addon could just as easily have sent my real name to trade chat, other users' addons, etc.

I'm OK with requiring Real IDs in forum posts; the forums are a sideshow anyway. Requiring it in game is a whole different thing.
posted by Nelson at 9:18 AM on July 7, 2010


Or, you know, go outside.

Okay, I'm outside. What now?

My response to the "just don't use it" and "only add the tiny handful of people you can REALLY TRUST" crowd.

Deleted. Did you re-post?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2010


The best and worst part about MMOs are the other players.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Deleted. Did you re-post?

Sigh. Looks like they're deleting all but a handful of the posts criticizing RealID. I made a new post instead of contributing to an existing one because I was taking a slightly different tack - not arguing the privacy but the value to them of their investment in this feature.
My argument was basically about this working out to bad ROI - if the solution to privacy concerns is to not use the system, and to limit the use to just the very small circle of highly trusted people, then they have rolled out an expensive, heavily hyped system that will be used by only a fraction of their users, and in the tiniest of ways by those who do use it. That's terrible ROI; but if they allowed nicknames, then everyone would be comfortable and safe and ROI for the project would be massive.

Sad that this single, unanswered post on page 6+ was worth deleting, and tips the scales more heavily towards leaving. I think I'll try EVE - it was always the economics that brought me back to WoW. I love making money and working the auction house, that's what always brought me back - I hear EVE is all about the money so hey, they can have my Blizzard's mite.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malice: Note that BattleNet and RealID is likely to be a mandatory part of all future Blizzard releases, including Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I quit a few months ago, but the whole RealID thing scares the shit out of me. I hear there were some breaches in security, in terms of addons- people could find out your full name without being RealID friends.

And now this? Yeah, this just lessens the likeliness that I'd ever return.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:55 AM on July 7, 2010


Yeah, this is all a little too creepy for me to want to start playing again, too. Plus I watched a video of one of the new instances, and, well, when brand new content is uglier, less intricate, and less atmospheric than similarly-themed areas in Monster Hunter (a Wii game which appears to run on a variation of the Resident Evil 4 engine, for goodness' sake, and which supports groups of a similar size to WoW dungeons) then Blizzard just seem lazy, and not worth my money.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:10 AM on July 7, 2010


Husky's take. No kittens this time. Mostly the same points as raised on the thread, but it's a good deconstruction from the point of view of a very hardcore player/user.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:31 AM on July 7, 2010


Malice: Did you miss the part in Nattie's well-reasoned post where she does not play WoW currently?

Regardless of your personal opinions of the game, it's worth being concerned about; if Blizzard proceeds with this RealID change, it sets a troublesome precedence for other (and not just gaming) companies to adopt. After a while, you may run out of online alternatives because you couldn't be arsed to give a damn when your protest still could have made a difference.
posted by Wossname at 11:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Telling people to go outside is a simple troll tactic.

In all, my family has five accounts. I'll wait until the end of the week to decide whether those accounts continue to play.
posted by keli at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do MMOs like World of Warcraft attract a different crowd than things like Halo 3? I experienced very few negative comments to women and minorities (including a real life friend who used "blackguy" in his name). And I used to play, um, a lot.

I've always wanted age segregation as an option, nearly 80% of the shitty players I encounter seem to be around the age 14.
posted by geoff. at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


WoW has a pretty large population of jerk kids, yes. Trade chat is infamous for a reason.
They're not all the players, just the most vocal, but there are enough of them to drown everyone else out and reinforce each other's behavior. Pretty much any form of public harassment becomes a group activity very quickly.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:34 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prankster tracks down WoW user who posted using his real name in 20 minutes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:46 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is Korean law driving policy at Blizzard? RealID is shared between the upcoming Starcraft 2 and WoW, and Starcraft is huge in South Korea.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:14 PM on July 7, 2010


Has the Blizz Forums thread been deleted?
posted by Decimask at 1:37 PM on July 7, 2010


Nope, here it is.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:40 PM on July 7, 2010


They've deleted every thread about RealID except the one massive one that started with their own stickied announcement. I've reposted my argument summary there; there's also a nice cut-and-paste objection list that's being used wherein you bold or underline your status, objections, and reactions.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:41 PM on July 7, 2010


Last night before bed that thread was about 1500 pages strong. This morning most of the posts therein were deleted paring it down to 300 or so; currently back up to almost 1400.
posted by waraw at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2010


No, just one of the posts linked here.

This is pretty disturbng, honestly. The thought that they're actually passing peoples' names around for in-game data instead of some kind of unique but non-identifying identifier is crazy careless. I mean, sure, Cataclysm is in beta, but come on.

My 6-month subscription just kicked in, but I will be watching this. If this isn't toned down and genuinely avoidable, I'll be cancelling, and I've only been playing for a month. Which is a shame, because I'm really enjoying the mechanics of warrior tanking and was starting to look into guilds or a realm transfer to a better realm.
posted by Decimask at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2010


WoW.com reports on the rumor that Blizzard employees will no longer have their real names attached to their posts because Blizzard employees "cannot risk having their personal lives compromised by in-game issues". Irony, thy name is RealID.
posted by waraw at 1:48 PM on July 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


This is a great experiment and I'm glad that a major player like Blizzard is willing to try it. Are we willing to just accept that people are and will always be worse than real life in the internet?

Problem with this theory is that this is a game where I engage in acts that yes, are way worse that I would ever do in real life. To the best of my knowlege, I have never killed several types of frogs, deer, skunk, paladins, rogues, priests. I have never tortured anyone in real life and I have never stalked someone in a 5 minute battleground just to make their run miserable. I also know exactly when I'm interacting with 13 year olds in real life and adjust my demeanor accordingly. I play for the escapism with my husband, and while it's no religion for us, it's something to do together and have fun at.. and actively be bad. Don't get me wrong, we're not trolls, we keep mostly to ourselves but we're killer in pvp. It's better than constant rounds of Gin Rummy.

However, since I was born a female, WoW has has some darker experiences than some of you have collected. People would hear I was a female, and it was so bad, I had to delete my first toon and switch faction sides. At 30, I thought I was pretty immune to lewd jokes and teen babble, but when some "15 year old" started stalking my newly minted toon, talking real crap, and then started making threats about tracing IP numbers, finding where we lived, etc, etc... he didn't seem like a harmless 15 year old. Indeed, I'm not even sure how he latched on to me other than we were in the same big guild and I was nice to everyone giving low lvl runs ... and he didn't seem so 15 anymore either with his threats escalating and one even infringed on blackmail. So Bliz can graciously forgive me if I don't get all cuddly simply because they want to be the new facebook and I get harassed simply because I exist as a female.

I don’t think Blizzard understands they're getting rid of one of the primary appeals for my husband and I with RealID, the ability to enjoy our escapist game in anonymity. We don't troll, ninja, or even piss other folks off. Not our style and yet now we can't even go to the forums for any help we might seek or get listed improperly as a 'friend of a friend' and that add-on exposure is pretty freaking bad. Gold farmers will be all over that now that it's out.
My identity is sacred and not worth a game.

How many times have I heard stories from friends about folks getting pissed at some old Usenet (yeah, we're going back a bit) comment, finding that person's work and making incriminating charges against them? None of the accusations true but still enough to lose one's position simply because they didn't "fit into the corporate ideal." No, no thank you. I've already got experience there for simply being born and I'm not willing to tempt more fate.

My question is... will this be all retroactive to old postings in the forums or do I have to fear about that too?
posted by eatdonuts at 2:21 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


My question is... will this be all retroactive to old postings in the forums or do I have to fear about that too?

No, only in the upcoming new RealID forums. Thanks goodness.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, in order for Blizzard to moderate their forums they demand you use your real name (to discuss dropship tactics!) and they share automatically your name with friends of friends i.e. gaming partners of gaming partners, also known as strangers? This model was a great success for GoogleBuzz, good job.

If it didn't run counter to the model of WoW, they could simply shut down the accounts of offenders and make them buy the game again. Blizzard is creating a database of delicious data and I'd love to see a country with personal data protection laws take them to task about it. I hope they offer an option to play Starcraft 2 without demandind your name in their database because I'd actually like to play the bloody game despite all the efforts by Blizzard's "visionaries" who had squat to do with the creation of the game to persuade me otherwise.

Do they accept James Raynor as a RealName?
posted by ersatz at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2010


I know I must be missing something - where does it say anything about being able to see friends of friends?

I've already shared my RealID with a bunch of people I've known for years (I also have them friended on facebook). But if there's a way for my identity to get shared with people I don't know who happen to be friends with my friends, I'm going to have to remove myself. I'm fine sharing my info with people I trust, but not random people I don't even know.

The fact that I have a very unique name makes this even worse. I won't even bring the whole being female thing to the equation.

This is more than a little disturbing.
posted by MsVader at 3:38 PM on July 7, 2010


longdaysjourney: "Hitler hears the news. "

I am tired of this meme. But this one made me laugh for real. And you know that it will make its way to Blizzard.
posted by Splunge at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2010


A player on the original forum thread dared people to track him down based on his real name and character's name. Someone did - and called them at work to prove their point.
Me: First and foremost, I want to apologize for calling you at work, and I also apologize if this doesn’t make sense, but are you Sikketh, from Thunderlord?

MV: ::pause:: Yes.

Me: So yeah, that took me about 20 minutes and it was pretty easy.

MV: Wow. Ok.

Me: Also, just for shits and giggles, is [redacted] your address ?

MV: yep.

Me: Phone number 555-555-5555?

MV: yep.

Me: I know your parents’ names are Name1 and Name2, I know your room is painted blue and I know you have a cute dog. I know where you were on the 4th of July and I know when you got back. Don’t worry, I’m not a crazy, I’m not going to do anything with it, and I’m not going to post your address or anything anywhere. I just wanted you to know that what I did was very easy and very free, from just your name and toon’s name. You have a good day, and thanks for being a good sport about it.
Personal drama happens all the time between WoW players. It's inevitable with an MMO. Opening that personal drama up to the very real potential for stalking is more than a little frightening. I won't be going near the Blizzard forums any time soon.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 4:05 PM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I hope they offer an option to play Starcraft 2 without demandind your name in their database because I'd actually like to play the bloody game despite all the efforts by Blizzard's "visionaries" who had squat to do with the creation of the game to persuade me otherwise.

People seem to be getting a little confused. First of all there is battle.net, you create an account and attach games to it(these can be older games like diablo or starcraft. For the upcoming game starcraft they introduced a system where you can keep in touch with your close friends by giving them your email address of your battle.net account. They'll be able to see if you are online playing starcraft and invite you to raids or a group. This is entirely optional and in ni way is it required to play starcraft II. Your friends who you have trusted are able to see the real names of people on your friends list but they can't see if they are online or who their characters are or have any way of associating them with their characters or even if they play wow at all. This realID system is entirely optional but really useful if a lot of people you know in real life play blizzard games


I've already shared my RealID with a bunch of people I've known for years (I also have them friended on facebook). But if there's a way for my identity to get shared with people I don't know who happen to be friends with my friends, I'm going to have to remove myself. I'm fine sharing my info with people I trust, but not random people I don't even know.

Like I said above all you will see on your friend's friends list is a list of names. If someone wants to find out who they are by checking Facebook or google they won't be able to associate that with anything other than your Facebook profile or whatever. As has been mentioned before if you have any fears about your own personal security don't use realID. Theres just so much fear mongering going on about this it's starting to get annoying.

Again. RealID is entirely optional. For everyone
posted by MrCynical at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2010


Again. RealID is entirely optional. For everyone

For now.
posted by keli at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


What is the "friends of friends" feature of Real ID?
Similar to other social-networking platforms, when you click on one of your Real ID friends, you will be able to see the names of his or her other Real ID friends, even if you are not Real ID friends with those players yourself. If you happen to know someone on that list, you will be able to quickly send a Real ID friend request to that player. This feature is designed to make it easy to populate your Real ID friends list with people you might enjoy playing with."
This is entirely optional and in ni way is it required to play starcraft II.

Until, of course, you need technical support, or possibly engage in online play.

As has been mentioned before if you have any fears about your own personal security don't use realID.

Except that your RealID is already open and vulnerable to lua scripts within the game.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:54 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


And of course, battlenet was optional and is now mandatory.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I understand that it's optional. And I have no problem discontinuing the use of RealID in game. And I'd never post on the forums anyway, so that isn't an issue.

I just don't see where it is exactly that you can view a list of your friends' friends. I'm sure I'm just being dense here, but I haven't found anywhere yet where I can even see a list of my own friends (other than my friends list in game), never mind my friends' friends.
posted by MsVader at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2010


Thanks, Kirk. Curse me for not previewing.
posted by MsVader at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2010


And for me, it's very much of a "last straw." I've been feeling like I've hit diminishing returns from the game for a few months now, and this whole thing just tipped the balance.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:15 PM on July 7, 2010


But because it's a perfect example of a worst case scenario. Some of the worst trolls I have ever encountered are on that forum.

The WoW forums are really not trolled that bad, not in the least. They aren't even close to the worst places for trolls, they are fairly well moderated.

The problem is there are a shit ton of users, but per-capita it's well behaved.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:29 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: "how do they know it's your real name?

signed, barrack obama
"

Your battle.net name is the name on your credit card. So, I suppose you might be sophisticated enough to have an alternate name credit history...but most people do not.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:29 PM on July 7, 2010


I think this is an interesting connection to make - Blizzard and Facebook just signed a big contract to share data.

I just quit, as did my guildmaster, who has gone to some pains to make sure her abusive ex-husband doesn't find her. And the "opt-in" bit, weak as it is, has already been circumvented.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:34 PM on July 7, 2010


I wish I could quote all of the responses here that I am replying to but it's annoying on an iPad. Battlenet became mandatory for a number of reasons the most important now being the integration of cross game communication. There is no reason for them to make realID mandatory.

Your realID name is nothing to do with your credit card information which is confidential. You choose the name when you create your battle net account and doesn't have to be your real name(this may hamper recovering your account)

And to reiterate what I said above. RealID will not in any way effect the support blizzard gives if you choose not to post on the forums. The support forums aren't meant to be a primary way of contacting blizzard for support. They have dedicated phone lines and email support via a webform.

ReaID is not required to play online in any blizzard game yet as some have suggested above.
posted by MrCynical at 7:18 PM on July 7, 2010


Theres just so much fear mongering going on about this it's starting to get annoying.

MrCynical, are you a Blizzard employee?
posted by waraw at 7:23 PM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think that people who have never experienced online harassment, or witnessed it happening to someone they care about, find it easy to trivialize.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:29 PM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


When WoW players created a battle.net account, during the Hey! do this while it's voluntary! phase, it automatically imported your billing information. Perhaps it was short-sighted not to replace that information with a clever psuedonym. Now you cannot change it. Even though it's not your billing information. It's just information you, apparently, have only moderate control over and some unknown person's promise that it's just between you and me.

Anyway, it's not fearmongering. Sure, there are some people (those with abusive exes, for one) who have reasonable fears. Most people are just reacting--rationally--to a total loss over the control of what to reveal about themselves to whom and when. We--certainly where I grew up--are raised to believe that it is normal, healthy, natural and desirable to withhold information about ourselves in many contexts, to provide full disclosure only in limited ones. What most people are reacting to here is not OMG! NOW I'LL BE STALKED AND KILLED. Most people are expressing a very rational anger toward a far more insidious violation of self-control, as well as a blatant first step toward more datamining so we can all support more crappy advertising in places where we're supposed to be relaxing with our friends.

Not to mention the whole hypocrisy of employees in the forums being allowed to retain psuedonymity while the cash cows cannot.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am going to quote a post I made on TL:

The big problem with Blizzard's change, to my mind, is that it's either shockingly ignorant & misguided or completely disingenuous.

"Anonymity" isn't the issue. This is a solved problem. For example, read this.

If Blizzard really believes what they say, the problem is they are embarrassingly and completely incompetent.

If Blizzard doesn't mean what they say, maybe they're not incompetent with respect to this issue but then there are deeper and more pernicious problems.

It's all just incredibly bad.
posted by cucumber at 8:05 PM on July 7, 2010


Btw, the beta is back up. That is how you do a timing push.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 8:45 PM on July 7, 2010


Supposedly the employees of Blizzard will be posting their real names as well after all -- the phone bank operators who said otherwise were the result of "internal communication issues."
posted by waraw at 8:56 PM on July 7, 2010



Supposedly the employees of Blizzard will be posting their real names as well after all -- the phone bank operators who said otherwise were the result of "internal communication issues."


Linked to their player accounts? I doubt it, have to keep the personal and professional seperate. *smirk*
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:28 PM on July 7, 2010


MrCynical, are you a Blizzard employee?

That shouldn't be relevant unless I worked for the PR department so any opinions or posts I have would be my own and not the official position of the company.

Not to mention the whole hypocrisy of employees in the forums being allowed to retain psuedonymity while the cash cows cannot.

If you thought that people finding out you were a girl would result in some abuse I don't think you could imagine how bad it would be if people found out you were a blizzard employee. As alot of them play wow just for fun.

When WoW players created a battle.net account, during the Hey! do this while it's voluntary! phase, it automatically imported your billing information. Perhaps it was short-sighted not to replace that information with a clever psuedonym.

It didn't do any "importing" of billing information, your details on your battle.net account replaced those on your WOW account. You could choose any details you wanted for your new battle.net account entirely independent of any "billing" information

I just quit, as did my guildmaster, who has gone to some pains to make sure her abusive ex-husband doesn't find her.

Honestly if things are so bad where you are afraid of your personal information being leaked out and don't trust that it is optional, why not contact blizzard to see if it will be changed ?
posted by MrCynical at 2:31 AM on July 8, 2010


So wait, you ARE a Blizzard employee? And you really have no clue why that would be at all relevant to this discussion? Jesus. If this is the level of intellegence at Blizzard now, this whole fracas makes a lot more sense.
posted by waraw at 4:27 AM on July 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


If you thought that people finding out you were a girl would result in some abuse I don't think you could imagine how bad it would be if people found out you were a blizzard employee.

And if you think the level of abuse you could receive when people find out you're a woman is not as bad as the level of abuse you could receive when people find out you're a Blizzard employee, then... well, I don't like to be insulting, but gee golly whizz, read up a little, or use the google.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:43 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think MrCynical works for Blizzard. I do think that he, personally, feels unthreatened and is unable to extend his understanding or empathy to encompass the rights of those who do.
Privacy is our right. We frankly shouldn't need to be defending our right to privacy - those who wish to take it away are the ones who should be justifying why it is necessary.

I could backfill with more anecdotes of harassment of myself and friends, but that just brings it down to the ME level, which is where the safe-feeling defenders also justify their position.
The question of privacy is an US issue, requiring us to be willing to protect others when we ourselves are in no danger.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:50 AM on July 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Another thing to consider about the "optional" part of RealID: Authenticators are optional also. After someone got their account hacked our guild bank got looted and now you are required to show your Core Hound Pup as proof of having an Authenticator if you want access to most guild functions. How many guilds might similarly require RealID for proof of authentication?
posted by charred husk at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


With a unique last name like Cynical he really should be worried.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:24 AM on July 8, 2010


That shouldn't be relevant unless I worked for the PR department so any opinions or posts I have would be my own and not the official position of the company.

You are right. On a web forum, true identity shouldn't really matter.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2010 [12 favorites]


Greetings, Professor Falken.

Hello.

A Strange game.
The only winning move is
not to play.

How about a nice game of chess?
posted by Muddler at 7:40 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Creepy yet effective.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many guilds might similarly require RealID for proof of authentication?

It's already happened. As soon as it rolled out, my son asked me to change the parental controls so he could put RealID to work. When I asked him why, he said his guild leader required it. I explained the privacy issues a bit more clearly to him (and this was before 7/6) and reminded him that half of his guildmates attend the same high school as he does. He already has his own form of RealID as far as that guild is concerned. I also told him to explain to his guild leader that I am a mean mother and won't let him do it.

I'm really glad I had the parental controls already in place and that it took RealID into account. I can't imagine the potential nightmare that could have started if he had just willingly went along with what was demanded of him. In the past few days, he has developed a complete understanding on his own from his other friends of why this is a terrible invasion of privacy.
posted by keli at 8:08 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funnily enough, I am now trying implement parental controls on my own accounts, and the usual link to get there is redirecting me to a Blizzard Support page instead of directly to the control page.
posted by keli at 8:13 AM on July 8, 2010


As much as the Blizzard forums are a dysfunctional community, the realm forums are still important places to organize in-game social/RP events and guild recruitment. I'm not convinced that the problems with the forums have much to do with anonymity because other MMOs seem to have both anonymity and a more reasonable community.

But just that wouldn't bother if it were not for the fact that the client has a huge security hole exposing RealID information to lua scripts. Which is the point where I decide that WoW isn't worth the worry or the money.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:26 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funnily enough, I am now trying implement parental controls on my own accounts, and the usual link to get there is redirecting me to a Blizzard Support page instead of directly to the control page.

I've gotten as far as submitting the "parental" email address - four times with two different addresses - but haven't gotten the confirmation mail I need to implement it.
Because of the script issues, I'm not logging in until I do - at least one instance of name exposure has occurred with DBM, which is pretty much obligatory ingame.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2010


This help topic on our tech support froums might help. If you have any wow issues you should stop by there first as they're a great source of information.
posted by waraw at 8:34 AM on July 8, 2010


You are right. On a web forum, true identity shouldn't really matter.

If you can't understand what I have already explained then I can't help you. I wouldn't care if my real name or who I work for was revealed but if you work for a big company especially a Game Company which has a very large online presence anything you say when you're not at work or representing the company can be taken as such.

That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment. If you were a girl you'd also have to avoid using the ingame chat system that blizzard built in(and is entirely optional) otherwise you'd get a torrent of abuse from that as well


If this is the level of intellegence at Blizzard now, this whole fracas makes a lot more sense.

And that is just a fraction of what people who work for blizzard would to deal with. It does sadden me to see personal insults here.
posted by MrCynical at 8:39 AM on July 8, 2010



This help topic on our tech support froums might help. If you have any wow issues you should stop by there first as they're a great source of information.


I didn't at any point say you had to post there, did I ?

Reading the forums when the RealID system is in place won't compromise your identity.
posted by MrCynical at 8:40 AM on July 8, 2010


That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment.

Oh. Wow.
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on July 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


I'll also add that another factor in my consideration is the existence of a highly-organized multi-million dollar criminal industry devoted to cracking user accounts. When Blizzard ramped up promotion of authenticators, I pointed out that Digipass tokens are still vulnerable to time-sensitive man-in-the-middle attacks and predicted we'd see a working exploit in six months. That exploit came in four weeks. (It's not been widely implemented because there's plenty of low-hanging fruit in the gold trade.)

I might be unreasonably paranoid here, but I consider it a question of when rather than if this system is gamed and exploited.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:45 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the linked USA Today interview with the Battle.Net project manager, quoting:
Go back to the previous Battle.net, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam and other different networks in the context of gaming services. they are all kind of anonymous. That whole veil of anonymity has been an important part of the design. There are those who feel like I want to go escape and create this parallel identity to myself on a gaming network and I don't want anyone to know who I am in real life. What we have seen in recent years is that veil of anonymity has been cast aside largely. Culturally, I think we have become more and more accepting of social networking in the context of your real identity and Facebook, of course as the leader in the space, has led this charge. We're now at something five years ago I don't think any of us would maybe necessarily be comfortable with. We all now have our own Facebook pages and we have got a lot of our information on there. We've got our real names and pictures of ourselves on there and so forth.
The degree to which he does not understand his userbase, or rather, the userbase of "gamers", is staggering.
posted by cavalier at 8:47 AM on July 8, 2010


A bit of a rumor, but interesting if true:

“Got in touch with my ex-flatmate, whose sister works as a GM for Blizzard, to see what the internal buzz on this was. Apparently, at the moment the employees are largely as pissed as the players, and she stated that despite attempts to keep it hushed, it has become known that the big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are. Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.

It’s still going ahead, however (and here’s where in-house rumours and hearsay really start coming into play): from what they’ve picked up, the Blizzard leads have been told in no uncertain terms that the non-gameplay-related direction of the game is working to a different blueprint now. GC and company are free to play with shiny new talent trees all they like, for example, but for the first time the decisions regarding Battle.net implementation, Real ID, and plans for the general acquisition of new players for the business are no longer in Blizzard’s own hands, and that’s not going down too well.”
posted by keli at 8:48 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not to mention the whole hypocrisy of employees in the forums being allowed to retain psuedonymity while the cash cows cannot.

If you thought that people finding out you were a girl would result in some abuse I don't think you could imagine how bad it would be if people found out you were a blizzard employee. As alot of them play wow just for fun.

If only Blizzard thought that their players also have jobs and want to play a game just for fun without giving away data to random parties...
posted by ersatz at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment.

That must be a huge cross to support a whole company.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment.

Wow. I don't even need to know your real name to know you're a troll.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:52 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment.

Yes, customer support get treated terribly and yes, I worry for them AS WELL.
It's not a competition. Bad is bad.
Nerdraging profanities and death threats at a CSM for deleting a post is bad.
Getting targeted by several minutes worth of emotes that describe raping me in graphic detail is bad.
Letting any nerdrager do any of this to any of us outside of the game environment is worse.

The people who trivialize this feature base their observations on the way FaceBook, etc. work. The sad truth is that the gamer environment, especially in WoW, is far more hostile place.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:00 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you can't understand what I have already explained then I can't help you. I wouldn't care if my real name or who I work for was revealed but if you work for a big company especially a Game Company which has a very large online presence anything you say when you're not at work or representing the company can be taken as such.

First of all, no matter where you're employed, you have to remember that anything you do on your personal time can be viewed by others as a reflection of the company you work for. I'm not saying that it's right - but that's just how the world works.

That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment.

Secondly, when you work for customer support, it is your job to deal with irate and irrational people. You get paid to endure that abuse.

Now here's why simple sexual harassment in WoW is different - no one pays me to deal with the abuse I get while playing a game I pay for. I'm also not a representative of a larger organization, and it has nothing to do with what I may or may not do while in game, it's solely because of my gender.
posted by MsVader at 9:01 AM on July 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are.

Let the finger-pointing begin.

We're headed for some chop.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 9:05 AM on July 8, 2010


I doubt it'll happen off the back of this, but I'd love love love to see what kind of game the people currently running the nitty-gritty of WoW (ghostcrawler and the like) would make if they left Blizzard and didn't have to worry about what a millions-strong userbase thinks of their changes.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:12 AM on July 8, 2010


L'Estrange Fruit, I found detailed instruction on how to opt out of RealID through parental controls.
posted by keli at 9:17 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now here's why simple sexual harassment in WoW is different - no one pays me to deal with the abuse I get while playing a game I pay for. I'm also not a representative of a larger organization, and it has nothing to do with what I may or may not do while in game, it's solely because of my gender.

And I was talking about outside of work, Blizzard employees(beyond dedicated testers I imagine) aren't paid to play the game or suffer any abuse on their play accounts just because they are an employee. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by MrCynical at 9:23 AM on July 8, 2010


L'Estrange Fruit, I found detailed instruction on how to opt out of RealID through parental controls.

Thanks, got it worked out.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:29 AM on July 8, 2010


I was getting over a fever and generally bored without much energy to get out of my chair this past weekend. I introduce my next statement with that as some way to somehow cover my embarrassment for it. So, you know, at my desk, bored, no good games to play, I still have WoW installed, so, what the heck - resubscribe. And of course, because I'm a cheapskate, $14.99 feels so ridiculous, when I could pay THREE DOLLARS LESS and buy 3 months at a time instead.

I know there's no way in hell to get any bit of that money back right now, but damn I wish I could. Bleh.
posted by cavalier at 9:31 AM on July 8, 2010


And, er, for those of you unfamiliar with the WoW pricing tier, the THREE DOLLARS LESS was hamburger for ($14.99 versus $13.99 x 3).
posted by cavalier at 9:33 AM on July 8, 2010


And I was talking about outside of work, Blizzard employees(beyond dedicated testers I imagine) aren't paid to play the game or suffer any abuse on their play accounts just because they are an employee. Sorry for the confusion.

There's no confusion. You directly compared employees who get abuse in their jobs in customer support to customers who pay to use the product and suffer harassment:

That and the amount of abuse that Game Companies or even customer support gets dwarfs that of simple sexual harassment.
posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.

Not everybody, apparently.
posted by waraw at 9:53 AM on July 8, 2010



And I was talking about outside of work, Blizzard employees(beyond dedicated testers I imagine) aren't paid to play the game or suffer any abuse on their play accounts just because they are an employee. Sorry for the confusion.


So what? They don't need any special treatment from Blizzard do they? Just opt out! *smirk*
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:56 AM on July 8, 2010


I haven't ever had an account on an mmpog ... so my uppity-fluppitiness with this is a result of paranoia that corporations are the ones making all the rules.

I used to be merely flotsam in the wake of lumbering fictions stomping across the earth exchanging my dollars for a never-ending supply of shiny-giggle-unicorn-chasers. I had been resigned to those facts for some time.

But now these lumbering giants travel at the speed of light across the globe to get not only my last dollar but to commodify every last bit of my identity for their gain. If I had a soul, it would be next.

Metafilter is a fucking buoy of humanity in this Gulf of Digital Shit, and Blizzard just dove in head first.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2010



Metafilter is a fucking buoy of humanity in this Gulf of Digital Shit, and Blizzard just dove in head first.


Radshammy: "Sorry guys, I know we're in the middle of fighting Deathwing, but I have to take this 'Do the Dew!' survey and play a minigame *right now* if I want to get the Tier 20 Ejaculating Carbmister(TM) weapon. One hour AFK break cool?"

GM Fudgepockets: HELLO NORIENNE/REALNAME! We noticed on your Facebook account that you are a fan of Chuck! As a valued WoW player, we would like to invite you to play as Chuck Bartowski! Chuck Bartowski is a specialized class featuring many of his abilities as applicable to WoW. Would you like to play Chuck?
posted by keli at 12:18 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Internet is still in its infancy. Indeed, I imagine the internet is to digital interaction what zoetropes are to IMAX.

What we're experiencing here with Blizzard (and in other similar situations) is sort of an inevitable part of a massive societal shift. There's been a ton of stuff written about "the end of privacy," much of it typically histrionic MSM style stuff.

The reality, right now, is that society, government, business, etc, are all struggling to figure out how society is changing as a result of the Internet. Some people are desperately trying to make it adhere to recently antiquated models (notably the entertainment industry). Others are trying to make it adhere to there own visions of how it should work. Still others are just going with the flow and seeing what the Internet "wants" society to be.

The business reality seems to be that you can force people to use an inferior design if you're the biggest bully on the block. Indeed, the history of business seems to be the loudest and richest people forcing their products on people and, in general, the people take it until something cheaper and better comes along. That can sometimes take months, sometimes decades, sometimes longer.

Anyhow, that's a little off my point, which is that the question of privacy is one of the defining moments of the Internet's (and whatever comes after the Internet's) development. As recently as fifteen years ago, it was much more challenging to discover information about people. Now, thanks to the Internet, its remarkably easy to discover information about most living people in developed countries.

Fifteen years ago, you make a video of yourself doing something moronic, only your friends see it (if anyone sees it). Fifteen years ago, you break up with your SO and the only people who know are the people the two of you choose to tell. Fifteen years ago, you escape from an abusive situation and the abuser isn't able to google all of your areas of interest in the hopes of finding a person that might be you under another name in another town.

(Fifteen is, of course, arbitrary and for rhetorical purposes only)

In its infancy, the walls between different areas of our lives have been movable, but they exist. To whit, I can have a porn account with a name that is different from a game account which is different from my Metafilter name which is different from my real life name. An unscrupulous person with specialized access, hacker skills or great determination could discover all of that information and reveal it to the world, but most internet users have neither the time nor interest in doing that.

The little, movable walls between these areas of our online lives are part of what allow us to behave in a free and unrestricted way without feeling watched. It is a pain in the ass that I can't really exercise my freedom of speech on certain issues in public forums for fear that my employer will find them and use them against me. After all, as many online are wont to point out, the government offers us freedom of speech, but a company has the right to fire me for exercising it if they think it reflects poorly on them.

Blizzard (or, more to the point, parent company Activision) is knocking down one of those little walls that make life a little more bearable online for a lot of people. In a little way for some (and an enormous way for others), they've made WoW a little bit less of a safe place.

One might argue that its never *really* been safe. True. The aforementioned unscrupulous people always had the ability to track down real identities. The issue here is that Blizzard has made it easier for less determined or skilled people to learn more about people. They're destroying a little bit of the illusion of safety and anonymity that we currently enjoy online.

But they are a business and businesses ultimately make decisions that they think are going to make money in the long run. They aren't flinching in the face of this, which leads me to suspect they knew a shitstorm was going to erupt. Somebody somewhere cranked some numbers and they decided that the potential loss in business was going to be insignificant in the face of some sort of future profit. Somebody recognized, perhaps as Keli just pointed out, that this gives them an opportunity to sell a certain kind of ad and target it to specific people.

(Activision/Blizzard have demonstrated that one thing they're very good at is making money. Want to get to Level 70? But "Burning Crusade." 80? "Lich King." Want to transfer a character to another realm? We've got a charge for that. Change your name? We've got a charge for that, too.)

Anyhow, as I said at the start, the rich and powerful can force inferior products on the world and have since the dawn of business.

In the end, each of us as individuals must ask ourselves how much of our lives we're willing to share with the entire world and how much we want to keep for ourselves. Sometimes, this is going to mean not having a Facebook (and, thus, not being able to see the wedding pictures your friend posted, for example), or not playing WoW, or spending a little bit of time every month trying to scrub information about ourselves from the Internet. Sometimes, this is going to mean deciding that you'd rather have a stalker and a Facebook than no Facebook at all. Or verbal abuse and a WoW account than no WoW account.

It sucks, but this is not the last time that we're going to have to make this sort of decision in the coming century.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:58 PM on July 8, 2010 [21 favorites]


Nice, Joey. Shame few will see it unless they're actively following the thread (As I am, for the first time ever). I'm sorely tempted to say that there really is no golden goose that Activision couldn't and wouldn't choke to death, but that lets Blizzard off the hook completely. In the end, we're going to see whether the expression "Only WoW can kill WoW" holds any water.
posted by Decimask at 5:15 PM on July 8, 2010


pseudonymph: "Anecdotal and thus unlikely to persuade you, MrCynical - but i've been told the same thing as keli by GMs a number of times.

Eventually I stopped reporting people for all but the most egregious things, and just put them on /ignore. Even when I did report, they were rarely if ever actually banned. The GMs were sympathetic and friendly, but mostly unhelpful in that area.
"


As another female WoW player who has been prominent in a world event level raid group; I can promise you that 99% of the time, you will be told to put someone on the ignore list. I've heard "fuck you bitch, I was just playing with you" on vent when I've refused to fulfill some strange cyber sex fantasy by talking dirty while we try to down a boss. More than once. I don't even get on vent unless it's a guild raid anymore.

And oh...the /whispers I've seen. At one point, my /ignore list was full...I couldn't add any more. Apparently, I'd hit the ceiling for assholes.

The fact than an API flaw lets your RealID be seen in game, even if you HAVE NOT enabled it, if someone has a certain addon.

Don't believe me? In game, at a command prompt, run this:
/run for i=1,100 do if BNIsSelf(i)then BNSendWhisper(i,"RealID whisper from yourself..");break end end
That's right! RealID has been thoughtfully pre-enabled for you. And if you don't think that the botters and the scammers are, even as we speak, writing code that will exploit the hell out of this...well, then you have a higher level of regard for the botters and scammers than I do.

And if you *have* a bnet account, you can not change your name. I called today and asked how to do it, since the fields were greyed out, and the phone support person said that the only way to change the name was to send them...get this...my birth certificate and my driver's license. Seriously? Hell to the no.

The only way to not have your real name show up IN GAME is to enable parental controls on your account, and pick an age under 13. You still won't be able to use the forums, but at least the API isn't broadcasting your billing name and email address.

As to the forums; GMs will send you to the tech support forum, as does phone support. So...if the only way I can can get support if I need it, is to publish my legal, credit card name...then that's a company that has decided it doesn't need my money.

I don't, as a rule, participate in the forums; but requiring RealID to use them, and pre-enabling RealID in game is enough to show me that Activision is fully in control of this ship, and it's time to quit. Nothing that Bobby Kotick touches ever stays good. The man is the king midas of evil.

So yeah, Blizzard lost all the accounts at our house today.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:28 PM on July 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Huh! Maybe it's becauase it was a recent subscription, but the billing rep @ Blizzard was remarkably giving and helpful with my request for a refund -- gave me a full one! He stated, paraphrased "Hey, RealID is optional, but it's your perogative, and if you don't want to play, here you go."

We chatted while he un-rang me up and he said the top 3 calls were RealID related, "Can I get Starcraft beta pleeeease", and "Can I get Cataclysm (new WoW expansion) beta pleeeeease".

Blizzard claimed they would keep some autonomy in the merge with Activision, but honestly, it never felt like this even when they were with Vivendi. Strange days.
posted by cavalier at 7:02 PM on July 8, 2010


/run for i=1,100 do if BNIsSelf(i)then BNSendWhisper(i,"RealID whisper from yourself..");break end end
I'm pretty sure this is only in effect on the playtest realms and/or the beta test. But then, in a vain attempt at limiting my WoW time I've got Parental controls enabled (and the RealID tickbox turned off). Trying to run this either from a macro or the chat does nothing.
posted by Decimask at 7:45 PM on July 8, 2010


Nope, just tested it on Moon Guard (one of the more highly-populated servers). It works.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2010


I've got until September on my current time. I've tried to play a bit today but it's putting a bad taste in my mouth.

Dammit, c'mon Guild Wars 2!
posted by waraw at 8:18 PM on July 8, 2010


Bobby Kotick seems like a golden-egg-laying goose serial killer.
posted by breath at 8:25 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder - Good to know. Now my question is: "What does the fact that it doesn't work for me actually mean?"
posted by Decimask at 8:28 PM on July 8, 2010


Probably due to the fact that you have parental controls enabled.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:29 PM on July 8, 2010


Let me rephrase:

What exactly is being passed from the battlenet server?

Is it my full real name (string of characters)?

Or is it permission to share my name with others (binary yes/no), meaning my name is already attached to my toon and walking around with me?
posted by Decimask at 8:46 PM on July 8, 2010


KirkJobSluder, check your MeMail please.
posted by keli at 9:13 PM on July 8, 2010


This is simply corporatization/commodification/business as usual. This is the reality of the slogan, "Maximize shareholder value." Activision is doing exactly that; they're tying into social networks, particularly Facebook, in order to maximize advertising revenue. Nothing more, nothing less. They stated over two years ago that Starcraft will see ingame ads and promotions like Facebook's, tied to your personal information, which they own.

You can post 1,000,000 complaints on the official forums, and a hundred other websites, cancel your account, start boycotts, etc. But the decision has been made and Bobby Kotick/Activision will not be backing down. In fact, having worked in enough San Francisco tech companies, I suspect that Activision did some calculations and decided that even if 10-20% (or 1 to 2 million) of current subscribers cancel their accounts, it won't matter; many will be back due to the lure of Cataclysm and the rest will be replaced by new subscribers they hope to attract.

Your personal information is owned by Activision, a private company, and in the agreement you make with them when you sign up, you agree that they own it and can do whatever they want with it. This is not complicated. It's also the case with your cellphone, cable tv, internet provider, auto loan/lease, mortgage, employment contract, etc.

Issues of harassment? Anonymity? Humanity? Activision's Kotick sums up the view on that ... customers are "units" and employees are "headcount" which maximize profit. There is nothing besides profit. This is the reality of our culture today.

I just wish ... I wish that the same kind of outrage (50,000 posts as of right now in the official WoW forums, over 260 posts here (really?! over a videogame?!) would be generated by the same corporatization/privatization/commodification of public education. Every day, the same mentality that drives Bobby Kotick and Thomas Tippl at Activision drives Bill Gates, the Eli Broad Foundation, the Walton family, Michelle Rhee, Bob Burdick, and others to turn schools into profit centers, teachers into minimum-wage temps, and children into profit units, based all on corporate, for-profit standardized tests.

By July 24 (my next billing date), my almost three years of WoW play will end, six months after my Facebook participation ended, for much the same reason. The corporation has moved further in a direction that I'm unwilling to go; therefore, I exercise my option to end the contract and no longer play the game. I will miss the stress relief and escapism. But I will shrug. And find some other to escape.

So, you'll forgive me if I don't get too upset over one company's use of customer information, when said customers (including myself) voluntarily gave up that information and consented that it be used in anyway Bobby Kotick, et al, sees fit. But on July 25, I will still, as a professional public educator of over 24 years experience, continue to see that same mentality destroy my profession and one of the cornerstones of American democracy which took over 200 years to develop. And I think that claims priority on my ... outrage meter.
posted by AirBeagle at 10:46 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


This poster states he is about to lose his job due to harassing phone calls he got after his name was leaked with the RealID friend-of-a-friend "feature".

Blizzard deleted the original thread from their forums.
posted by marble at 11:22 PM on July 8, 2010


Every day, the same mentality that drives Bobby Kotick and Thomas Tippl at Activision drives Bill Gates, the Eli Broad Foundation, the Walton family, Michelle Rhee, Bob Burdick, and others to turn schools into profit centers, teachers into minimum-wage temps, and children into profit units, based all on corporate, for-profit standardized tests.

AirBeagle, you should totally make that FPP.

As for the outrage meter, well, you'll notice that gamers as a whole have a bit of a persecution complex going on, not necessarily without justification, and this feels like an attack from within. There's always the concern that their (our) hobby is going to fall by the wayside, whether it's from the growth of "casual" games or from censorship. Games getting fucked up by privacy invasion is new(ish), but this isn't an unusual level of outrage by the standards of previous flaps, it's just that every post about it on the official US forums has been funneled into one gigantic thread. And 260 comments on mefi is hardly unusual for a subject with broad appeal like video games (no-one gives a shit about trans people, for example, but I just pulled out of my favourites three threads on the subject with between 100 and 200 comments).

Also, a massive community of gamers just got educated about what loss of privacy on the internet can mean, and how easily it can happen, and they really aren't fond of the experience. This could be an interesting opportunity for privacy advocates.

I can't wait until the british english dictionary gets updated for firefox 4. stop undermining my spelling, you silly beta!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:26 AM on July 9, 2010


Penny Arcade just linked to Nattie's comment.
posted by minifigs at 12:35 AM on July 9, 2010


A short history of Activision Blizzard or how B.Net 2.0 came to be. This article illuminated for me a lot of really disturbing stuff that has led up to this, particularly the stuff since Kotick was put in charge.

They really are flushing this company down the tubes.

One of the more recent comments I saw had this in it:

"No, youy're losing fans. You're losing respect. You're losing loyalty, which is far more valuable than subscriptions. "
posted by marble at 1:22 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


To amplify Nattie's excellent post, go have a look at this thread on Scrapheap Challenge, an Eve Online forum run by a CCP staffer, and the tone towards a high-profile female player who has committed the crime of (gasp!) disliking the playstyle many SHC players enjoy. If you don't mind wading through the vile sexism you'll get to the bit where people start arguing they should call tabloid papers in the Netherlands to see if they can cause her grief.

Or google up the whole Lady Scarlett mess, for that matter. A large chunk of the MMO playerbase are fucked in the head.
posted by rodgerd at 1:56 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw someone cross-posted Nattie's comment in the epic thread on the official wow forums, but it got truncated. They mentioned having seen it at Penny Arcade.

In a completely different post (also on the official wow forums), I saw someone comment with some disturbing info that they think Anonymous / 4chan are going to go to town with all sorts of harassment once the real names are out there. As a matter of just doing it for the lulz, apparently. I copied that comment as I suspect it will be deleted.

If that poster is right it could be a hell of a shitstorm.
posted by marble at 2:27 AM on July 9, 2010


This has been mentioned on some pages linked from this discussion, but not directly here - let's also not forget the Counter-strike player who spent six months plotting to murder someone in real life because they killed him in-game.

The core problem is clearly that this guy was clearly unhinged and I'm shocked that he only got two years in prison. But I guarantee he's not the only gamer this unbalanced, and it absolutely cannot be a good idea to make it easier for dangerous people to find out your personal information.
posted by clee at 3:22 AM on July 9, 2010


Excellent comment, Nattie.
posted by Silvertree at 4:50 AM on July 9, 2010


Tycho links to Nattie's comment in todays Penny Arcade.
posted by Splunge at 6:20 AM on July 9, 2010


I wonder if Activision is self-insured for liability, or if they have a policy with someone. IF they do have a policy, I wonder how much it went up when they told their insurer. Seems like a material change in their risk level.

This could be an interesting opportunity for privacy advocates.

Perhaps this is all a backhanded fund raiser for the EFF? =p
posted by nomisxid at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2010


Perhaps this is all a backhanded fund raiser for the EFF? =p

Thus far, the EFF has only remarked on the policy and is "watching as this experiment unfolds." They are, of course, critical of Blizzard's attitude toward anonymous speech.
To assume — as Blizzard seems to have assumed — that anonymity enables only "ugly speech" is the product of a failed imagination. Anonymous speech has always been an integral part of free speech because it enables individuals to speak up and speak out when they otherwise may find reason to hide or self-censor. Behind the veil of anonymity, individuals are more free to surface honest observations, unheard complaints, unpopular opinions — incidentally, all healthy contributions to an evolving gaming community.

Blizzard is completely within its legal rights to set rules, standards, and regulations for its forum, but only time will determine whether or not they are making the right choice.
Time, and probably Activision Blizzard getting sued for wrongful death.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:21 AM on July 9, 2010


McCynical was saying that Real ID is no problem in game....except for the fact that Real ID has been thoughtfully pre-enabled for all users. Parental controls do not stop the RealID info from being broadcast.

Dig this; all the addons that have their own backchannels; raid frames, healer frames, etc. These addons log on to a chat channel when you load the game. That's how, when you're in a raid, (as a healer, for example) you will see msgs like "So and So is healing MainTank"

Ok, so we've established that addons can run silently, and on their own chat channel. The only reason you see those messages is because the coder has programmed it such that messages show up in your raid ui.

But...you can do the same chat channel activity WITHOUT showing any messages on the UI.

Ergo; using the current API, you can insert a line of code that grabs people's character name, and their Real ID info, publish that info on a back chat channel (invisible to the user), and have a user/bot/ sitting there sifting the info into data stores.

It's easy. Proof of concept has already been done. All someone malicious has to do is insert a line or two of code into a popular addon.

Real ID is going to happen. Facebook backed up a truck full of money, and even as we speak, Bob Kotick is rolling around on it, masturbating like a monkey. He doesn't give a rat's ass about players, developers, communities, or anything else except lots and lots and LOTS of cash. He's the king midas of evil, and everything he touches turns to shit.

That said; I saw the proof of concept. I know that it's just a matter of time before the code is inserted. I also know it's a matter of time before the "optional" part disappears, just like the "optional" bnet became mandatory.

I know activision doesn't care that our household has canceled our accounts; they don't care how many of us cancel our accounts, as long as they can slurp in the Chinese and Korean and Facebook farmers.

I will miss my friends. I will miss my guild. I will even miss the antics of some of the forum monsters.

Yesterday, I started mailing off equipment and gold to guildies, friends, and a few random lowbies in starting areas. My account expires tomorrow.

It is with the greatest regret that I cancel the accounts I've had since Beta. I'm actually sad. I'll miss my dragon, I'll miss the raids, I'll miss the crazy people.

But as someone who has actively campaigned to protect privacy rights of people across all forms of media, I cannot in good conscience passively support this intrusion into the lives of paying customers who derive no benefit from having their information sold to the highest bidder by Activision.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:50 AM on July 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Don't believe me? In game, at a command prompt, run this:

/run for i=1,100 do if BNIsSelf(i)then BNSendWhisper(i,"RealID whisper from yourself..");break end end


How hard would it be to alter this code to get the real name of another? It would be nice to have a macro to say "Hi, , this is why you should hate RealID, please help me protest it!"
posted by waraw at 8:30 AM on July 9, 2010


waraw: other people's Real IDs are not available to you unless they are a friend of a friend-of-a-friend. There is privacy.

SecretAgentSockpuppet: I agree that addons shouldn't have access to Real ID data. I'm guessing it was a poorly thought out design choice and they'll remove it. In the meantime, don't install addons you don't trust. That's always been true: addons could republish all your whispers, for instance.
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on July 9, 2010


Nelson, my concern is that out-of-game info - my name - is now somewhere within the code ingame. Via legitimate use, yes, only friends-of-friends can see it. That's a security chain vulnerable to social engineering - even if your target is savvy, their friends might not be.
Via non-legitimate use - well, it's *there*. Hackers can dig anything out if it's there to be exploited.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:03 AM on July 9, 2010


Well after coming back to this thread and reading a lot of the comments I'm sad to say I'm far less optimistic about my previous comment. I still stand my belief that removing anonymity is a major defense against trolling in self-contained environment, but yeah, it seems that WoW is far too large with far too great a population of people who are far too gone. And that's honestly sad.

The sadder part is that my comment was based in the belief that this was actually a means to control trolling and griefing on the Blizzard forums. Clearly, we all see now that it's not. Blizzard wants their own Facebook, which in itself rapidly becomes more and more of a data mining operation.

Again, I'm very sad about this. I've literally been waiting ten years for Starcraft 2, and now it looks like I'm not going to buy it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2010


Nelson: I don't think I'm being unreasonable here. IMO the steps that Blizzard needs to take in regards to RealID to restore my faith that I can trust them with my personal information are:

1: Go to a one-identity authentication/posting model for the forums that doesn't require using legal names.
2: Disable RealID by default making that information inaccessible to the user and client.
3: Put the privacy control to enable/disable RealID prominently on the Battlenet user interface rather than via the convoluted system of declaring yourself your own parental guardian.

XQUZYPHYR: The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is wrong, or at least incomplete. All of these issues date back to the earliest days of the internet, when people were unreasonably nasty to each other using professional accounts in small sandboxes of academic disciplines. Heck, even Einstein had a famous public flameout at Lemaitre. (He later admitted he was wrong, but the theory was set back a few years as a result.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:30 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nelson: "waraw: other people's Real IDs are not available to you unless they are a friend of a friend-of-a-friend. There is privacy.

SecretAgentSockpuppet: I agree that addons shouldn't have access to Real ID data. I'm guessing it was a poorly thought out design choice and they'll remove it. In the meantime, don't install addons you don't trust. That's always been true: addons could republish all your whispers, for instance.
"

For the record; I watched someone code a lua file that grabbed my real name, even though I don't have Real Id enabled, AND I'd set up parental controls and set my age as 9. They were still able to grab my real name.

So, yeah...it can be done. It has been done. Both DBM and Gear have proof of concept code live and available.

This is a HUGE security flaw, especially if parental controls don't turn off the broadcasting.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:48 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hello everyone,

I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. 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.

posted by Pope Guilty at 9:55 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


...continued:

"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. "

So they're still putting in RealID, and "over time" is really hard-pressed to not sound like "we'll eventually be making it mandatory."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:05 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a good first step. But it doesn't address the in-game issues of privacy. They need to do much more before I'll be satisfied.
posted by MsVader at 10:06 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


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.

That's been my assumption - keep sweetening the pot to get more people to opt-in - because they can't make bank on your identity unless you opt-in, curse those pesky privacy laws...
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:35 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here was my response to the "at this time, we won't make you use your real name" post from Mike and all the giggly fan bois who came all over themselves to be first to bow down:


Seriously, what the hell? Y'all are fawning all over this decision, despite the fact that the eula is still just as horrific, they still say they can sell ALL of your billing data including credit card numbers to anyone they want, Real ID is still pre-enabled and broadcasting data even if you enable parental controls, and you guys are acting like they've done you a favor? Are you mad?

Account still canceled. They haven't changed anything. They're going to wait until the furor dies down, and then continue on with the facebook like infringement of privacy.

Seriously guys, this isn't Blizzard anymore. It's Activision. The company who said that they wanted all their developers to be miserable and worried about their jobs, the company who said that profit was more important than good games, the company that just tried to sell the real names of children to advertisers.

Thank you? Please. How farking easy is it to fool y'all?


I am astounded at how fast people starting drinking the koolaid. But I've given up on them at this point. I can do no more than what I've done to convince people that Real Id is a bad thing.

People are wrong on the internet
.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:22 AM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]



Blizzard has responded and will not use real names on their forums and will likely reconsider the privacy functions of the RealID system.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:37 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's bad in the game even when optional. There is no reason I should need to use my real name to enable a cross realm communication feature. I'll still be skipping Blizzard products from now on. I'm glad they came to their senses on the forums but it doesn't change much for me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:39 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I play too much Wow, and have for about 4 or so years now. I really haven't had any problems with people knowing I'm a chick, because I have a good sense of humor about it, and try to take anything anyone says in a game with a grain or two of salt. Anyone who takes it a step too far gets put on my ignore list. Anyone who thinks I'm at a disadvantage because of my gender doesn't deserve to group with me. It's as simple as that. I haven't really had any harassment issues. I guess I've just lucked into playing with some really cool peeps.

I wonder if Blizzard is opening themselves up to legal liability if some creep does cross the line? When I signed up and started playing, the only folks who knew my name were the ones I told. Now anyone can know. That's kind of a game-changer. If harm comes to me because some jerk didn't like that I pwnt him in a bg, will Blizz be held responsible for telling him my name?

One other worrisome thing is, I have an unusual name. About 3 other women in the US have it too. One is a respected psychologist working at a university, one is an award winning physicist. I bet those two aren't going to be too pleased when they google their own names and get to see angry posts posted in their name about stupid nublettes and how ret pallies are ruining the game. I fear my online carelessness could potentially hurt these other women's careers.

One big thing that they could've done with RealID that they haven't even considered is the ignore list. If I put some annoying asshole on ignore, it should ignore all of his toons. Saving me room on my ignore list and keeping him from logging over from the original that merited and ignore to some alt so he can continue his asshattery.
posted by From the Fortress at 11:58 AM on July 9, 2010


I guess I should read all the way to the end before posting, yes?
posted by From the Fortress at 12:05 PM on July 9, 2010


Gee, it's almost like they announced a mandatory link between RealID and forum posts specifically so they could backtrack a few days later, distracting the masses with inaccurate "Blizzard gives up" noise while still leaving all the perfidiously insidious aspects of RealID untouched in place and rarin' to go...
posted by kipmanley at 12:50 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm certain that after they feel SC2 and Cataclysm have made enough bank in holiday sales, they'll be back to making it mandatory for all Battlenet users to link to their "real" Facebook profile or something far more nefarious.
posted by keli at 12:58 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


OMG, that short history thread of Activision/Blizzard posted above made me want to chew glass. Look, I'm not THAT naieve, I expect the leaders of businesses to be, well, blood sucking immoral business people, but those two guys are just... NRNRGH.

"Hey yeah, see this duct tape on the carpet? It's been there for five years because we're too cheap to replace it ! That's how much we care about these games, we treat the developers like shit!"

RIP Blizzard :(.
posted by cavalier at 1:33 PM on July 9, 2010


As long as it's an optional thing, I'll still keep playing WoW. Blizzard has done a lot to annoy me in the past, but if they made something like this mandatory, it would be the final straw.

I don't need everyone I know to know everything I do. I am a grown adult and if I want to let people know what I do, I will.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2010


waraw: other people's Real IDs are not available to you unless they are a friend of a friend-of-a-friend. There is privacy.

That's not privacy. One of my friends on facebook has something like 2,000 friends. Facebook is already enough of a fuckup.

I don't play WoW but I was really looking forward to SCII. Now I'm considerably less enthused. Of course I can just play it with a fake name, but In game ads? Really?

I remember reading a profile about Rick Rubin taking over Sony's record business after it had basically failed. Apparently he'd been working with Neil Diamond for Sony, they had worked hard on the album and Neil was hoping that this would be a comeback album. Rubin had had success doing that with other artists, including Jonny Cash.

Sony decided to Put their Rootkit DRM on the disk, and basically no one bought it once people found out about that. The album failed because of the invasive software put on it. Rubin swore he'd never work with Sony again. (But apparently they managed to lure him back after they'd destroyed their brand)

I can imagine the guys at Blizzard doing the actual coding probably feel the same way. Imagine you've been working on Starcraft II for like a decade, or at least 4 or 5 years and then just when you're about to release it they pull this shit. Kind of un believable.

Blizzard doesn't want to produce a quality game and sell it to you, they want to profit from your personal information and charge you for the privilege. Fuck them.
posted by delmoi at 5:38 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


interesting post on reddit about this.
posted by delmoi at 1:35 AM on July 10, 2010


To follow up on my earlier comment about a chunk of the MMO audience: MMO companies seem to be about where football clubs were in the 70s and early/mid 80s: a chunk of their fan base were incredibly toxic human beings (the football fan groups aligned with BNP or other facist/racist groups in England and so on); clubs, however, didn't want to get rid of that portion of their fan base who showed up at matches for the joys of lobbing banannas at black players, fights, and general mayhem, because they were afraid of the economic impact and, perhaps, because "that's just the way it is."

Tt took the likes of the Heysel disaster and similarly ugly incidents for any real clean-up in the sport (although even today you've still got the likes of Di Cano doing facist salutes to his fans). I wonder what it will take to clean out MMOs?
posted by rodgerd at 1:58 AM on July 10, 2010


For the record; I watched someone code a lua file that grabbed my real name, even though I don't have Real Id enabled, AND I'd set up parental controls and set my age as 9. They were still able to grab my real name.

So, yeah...it can be done. It has been done. Both DBM and Gear have proof of concept code live and available.
- SecretagentSockpuppet
Thank you, this is exactly what was trying to get at, and exactly what I expected. I hope some makes a video recording of this vulnerability, and it hits the front page of every WoW-related site on the web. I'll look into creating a trail account to be the guinea pig.

The reddit post delmoi linked to is great, and everyone should take a look.

The funny thing is that the archetypal example of why real names in game is a bad idea is perfectly demonstrated by one of the best things Blizzard has ever added to WoW: the Looking for Dungeon tool (LFD). WoW is already a random dump of humans onto a single server, and it's a total crapshoot whether the people you could group with are psychotic or competent or complete-and-utter morons. I know the first time I started playing WoW I hardly did any instances because it would take an hour to get a group together.

With LFD (and as a tank instead of a rogue DPS), I can get into a pick-up group usually in under 60 seconds. Once the instance loads, I'm now on the same side with 4 other players from one of 20 different servers which each have "populations" of 15,000-25,000. We've never seen each other before, and we never will again. So if someone causes a wipe or f***s off after killing a specific boss/levelling or is just plain incompetent, it's basically water under the bridge because there's really nothing you can do about it. From my understanding, there's a similar tool for 10- and 25-player Raids.

Enter realID. Now if you f*** off or f*** up on, say, an especially tricky fight and it means everyone has to run the thing all over again, 4 to 24 pissed off people can look you up and scream at you over the phone. At home. At work. On your cell phone. On your spouse's phone. On your kid's cell phone while they're at school. Gamers have a bad rep for social boundaries and lunacy for a reason--there are enough creeps and freaks in the population that we can't shake to label.
posted by Decimask at 7:39 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Gee, it's almost like they announced a mandatory link between RealID and forum posts specifically so they could backtrack a few days later, distracting the masses with inaccurate "Blizzard gives up" noise while still leaving all the perfidiously insidious aspects of RealID untouched in place and rarin' to go...

Yeah this was my first thought too. It's actually probably not a bad strategy - people like to feel like they've won, and it makes a nice David/Goliath kind of narrative, so as a distraction technique this'll be very, very effective.
posted by lwb at 8:38 AM on July 10, 2010


Coincidentally came across this comic today, how apt!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder what it will take to clean out MMOs?

Game companies might consider not making games where a pre-requisite for success is endless hours of repetitive grinding that could only be attractive to the anti-social.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:15 PM on July 10, 2010


Game companies might consider not making games where a pre-requisite for success is endless hours of repetitive grinding that could only be attractive to the anti-social.

Maybe instead that they should consider making games where the pre-requisite for success is the ability to work together in large groups, with clear communication and willing cooperation, permitting opportunities both for individual innovation and for effective leadership.
posted by kafziel at 12:29 AM on July 11, 2010


From my understanding, there's a similar tool for 10- and 25-player Raids.

No. No such tool exists for Raids and Blizz has gone on record as saying they have no plans at all to support one.

And if you're getting harassed on Vent - not to defend Blizzard too strenuously here - but that's not Blizzards fault or problem. Vent is a separate service. Blizzard has it's own voice communication system, which sucks, sure. But to expect Blizzard to do anything about harassing behavior on a system they don't own running software that isn't theirs is expecting too much.

I know from personal experience that Blizzard will land on people who behave poorly - a kid my son went to school with was getting out of hand and got a 3 week ban as a result. That being said, I expect that there is some inconsistency; I used to be a GM for Gamestorm (remember them?) and even with a playerbase in the tens of thousands a couple dozen GMs it was hard to apply rules consistently across all situations.

I believe Blizz tries though. I've known people who worked for them, and other companies in the industry. Sure, corporate policy can get in the way, but to a person they bust ass to deliver a good product.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:50 AM on July 11, 2010


Vent was referenced as an identifier - i.e. going on vent reveals your gender/ethnicity and opens you up to non-vent harassment ingame. The point being made is that another equivalent identifier ingame would likely have the same detriments.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


kafziel: "Game companies might consider not making games where a pre-requisite for success is endless hours of repetitive grinding that could only be attractive to the anti-social.

Maybe instead that they should consider making games where the pre-requisite for success is the ability to work together in large groups, with clear communication and willing cooperation, permitting opportunities both for individual innovation and for effective leadership.
"

Years ago, a game came out called Dark Age of Camelot that had Realm vs Realm battlegrounds that were huge, zergs of players. At least on the realm that I played, the RvR was the best part of the game. You needed different types of crafters (to reinforce keep doors, for example) and different types of player classes working together to keep each other alive...it was great. I loved RvR. IIRC, the rest of the game was pretty wonky...but I don't remember why it was I wandered away from it. (Probably to play WoW.)

And in WoW, raids required an extraordinary amount of communication and leadership. That content was hard to beat, and learning the encounters took dedication from every member of raiding guild.

There was a lot good about WoW...and back in the day; I thought Blizzard was one of the most innovative and creative companies ever when it came to capturing gamer dollar.

The difference now is that Activision doesn't care about gamer dollars so much as they see the gamer AS dollars.

This step back from real names on the forums is a feint...a sleight of hand; nothing more. Even after this "announcement" from Blizzard, the real id is still being broadcast IN GAME even if you didn't "opt in". There is no Opt Out, that data stream exists in game for every player on every server at all times...possibly including accounts that have parental controls enabled. (There's some doubt on this one, as it may be server replication issues, rather than the data being broadcast.)

The fact is that Activision has made it incredibly clear that they have no intention of honoring Blizzard's original privacy policy. Most users don't read the eula, so they have no idea that as of 2 days ago, it said that Blizzard can now sell ALL of your data, including payment data, address, real name, etc., to any of their advertising partners, and that those partners can/will/are allowed to resell that data as many times as they want.

I changed all my data on my bnet account and closed the account when I read the eula. The forum thing? Totally a smokescreen.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe instead that they should consider making games where the pre-requisite for success is the ability to work together in large groups, with clear communication and willing cooperation, permitting opportunities both for individual innovation and for effective leadership.

FFXI was awful.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:26 AM on July 11, 2010


SecretAgentSockpuppet, how do you mean the Real ID is being broadcast "in game"? As far as I know it's not. Real ID does exist in your client's memory somewhere, but it's kept private. Addons have access to that data right now (which I think is a mistake) but nothing is broadcasting it.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on July 11, 2010


> No. No such tool exists for Raids and Blizz has gone on record as saying they have no plans at all to support one.

Thanks Pogo, I'd edit and correct myself if I could. My highest is 63, so I haven't hit any raid content yet, except for one that I tried to solo in the Eastern Plaguelands without realizing it. I'd just assumed I hadn't unlocked it yet.
posted by Decimask at 12:40 PM on July 11, 2010


Gee, it's almost like they announced a mandatory link between RealID and forum posts specifically so they could backtrack a few days later, distracting the masses with inaccurate "Blizzard gives up" noise while still leaving all the perfidiously insidious aspects of RealID untouched in place and rarin' to go...

Actually, I see it the other way around - they were hoping the forum thing would pass and desensitize the population to the use of real names, so more of them would become comfortable with using them ingame. Then they could commencify to selling all that sweet added value available only through the RealID system with minimal uproar.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:50 PM on July 11, 2010


My accounts are closed and my SC2 preorder is cancelled. I doubt it'll be a big loss, as there is no way the hardcore SC set will embrace Bnet2 at this point. Long live ICCUP.
posted by mek at 6:15 PM on July 11, 2010


The fact is that Activision has made it incredibly clear that they have no intention of honoring Blizzard's original privacy policy. Most users don't read the eula, so they have no idea that as of 2 days ago, it said that Blizzard can now sell ALL of your data, including payment data, address, real name, etc., to any of their advertising partners, and that those partners can/will/are allowed to resell that data as many times as they want.

You put me in a strange position here, as I don't necessarily want to be defending Activision-Blizzard, but at the same time FUD is even less fun:

The Terms of Use and EULA were last upated July 29, 2008.

Is there something else you saw that led you to this?
posted by cavalier at 7:55 AM on July 12, 2010


The copy of the EULA on the website, yes. I'd look at the EULA presented in the game launcher. Most MMOs make you agree to an EULA every time you launch them.
posted by kafziel at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2010


WoW asks you to agree to the EULA every time you install the game fresh or install a new patch. The EULA you're presented with is the one from the website.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:56 AM on July 12, 2010


True. This, however, is the same. The WoW client asks you to affirm every time a new version is loaded, once you have accepted it it saves this in its config file and doesn't prompt again unless you change users or versions.

(Rewind to several versions ago -- "Why is it asking me to approve, I've already approved, look, it's 2008!")
posted by cavalier at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2010


Oh wow. People who complained about RealID to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, who have championed privacy issues before, received a reply which revealed the email address of every one who'd emailed them.
posted by waraw at 8:52 PM on July 12, 2010


It's 2010 and there's people who don't know how to bcc. Nice work, people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:41 PM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess we're officially fucked, then.
posted by mek at 11:08 PM on July 12, 2010


I don't know if this is related, but in the past week, I've seen three people in game that I hadn't seen in forever. None of them responded to greetings. Turns out all three of them were hacked (and all three are still battling to get their accounts back).

So, if you haven't played in a long time, you might want to take this opportunity to just check your accounts to make sure that they're actually still yours.
posted by MsVader at 4:49 AM on July 13, 2010


MsVader, that happens a lot in general. I know of more than one person who got an email about an account suspension on an account that had been closed for years. Hacked of course.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:21 AM on July 13, 2010


RealID will make it much easier to hack accounts, of course, if you have a guessable security question. Google up your email and phone number, guess or google the answer and poof, I now control your account. That's the truly bizarre part of this whole development - it's going to be a security nightmare.
posted by mek at 2:01 PM on July 14, 2010


cavalier:

The Terms of Use and EULA were last upated July 29, 2008.

Is there something else you saw that led you to this?"


This is the current TOS, and it was updated a few days before the furor in the forums. 5/26/10

That's the one that everyone clicked through to get the patch that had Real ID in it.

Please note all the "oh, we're gonna sell your data, kay?" and note the difficulty in opting out: via snail mail only, and you have to specify which partners you want excluded...and they won't tell you who the partners are...but other than that...
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:33 PM on July 15, 2010


Ah...ok, the really interesting new stuff is the Privacy Policy, which was updated on June 30, 2010...I'd read all of them, but got confused about which legalese was in which document. Here are the real game changer paragraphs that were modified in the Privacy Policy. (A document, btw, that users don't get a "click to accept" on...it changes, you're automatically accepting it by visiting their site or using their software:

For some activities, we may ask you to create a username and password and/or to provide other, non-personal information such as your age, date of birth, gender, and/or game and platform preferences; and, combine such information with your personal information. In addition, your web browser or client software may transmit certain geographic information or information regarding your computer (capabilities, game data processing, etc.) to Blizzard. Blizzard may use this information to generate aggregate statistics about our user community and may provide such information to advertisers and/or our partners.

When you are asked for information while on a Blizzard site, you are sharing that information with Blizzard, its parent, and its various affiliates and sister companies, unless specifically stated otherwise. As a result of this sharing, you may receive communications from any of Blizzard's affiliates. In addition, some services are provided in conjunction with partner companies.

Please be aware that we cannot control the activities of third parties to whom we provide data, and as such we cannot guarantee that they adhere to the same privacy and security procedures as Blizzard.

But this one: this is my favorite new addition:

As with any business, your personal information is also an asset of Blizzard and will become part of our normal business records.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ahhhh, the Battle.Net Terms of Use. Now I get what you're cookin.
posted by cavalier at 5:21 PM on July 17, 2010


« Older Picky Eating might be added to the DSM....  |  Illusion Illusions... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments