July 6, 2010

Blizzard's Privacy Cataclysm

If you are like me then sometime in your life you have played, or are still playing, a game made by Blizzard, and when you aren't playing this game you're posting on the fora under your character's name or a handle. If you have enjoyed this nice semi-anonymity well it sucks to be you. Blizzard has announced that you must now use your real name to post on the forums, though you have the option to post with a character's name alongside your real name. This will go into effect for theStarcraft 2 fora in mid July and later for the WoW fora shortly before Cataclysm is released.

"Beginning in mid-July, players who post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, the real-life first and last name associated with their Battle.net account. In addition, players also will have the option to display the name of their primary in-game character (plus related in-game information such as guild and realm) alongside their real name. You’ll also begin seeing blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged."

Battle.net link

So what does having your real name be used for all your forum posts means. Imagine you are sitting down for an interview for a good paying position at an excellent company. As you are being interviewed you think everything is going fine then suddenly you are asked the question "So why were you trolling the paladin forum?" or "Why do you play that stupid kids game?". Because your real name is released to the public on the internet a quick google of your name will be able to find all your forum posts, even the ones where you were acting like an asshat or voicing a controversial opinion. This is just like posting pictures of yourself acting like a drunk idiot at a party on Facebook and having your future employer finding out about it.

Blizzard's new system can lead to real life attacks on character for things said online, cost future employment and relationships all with a simple little googling of your name. From a young age children are taught not to share their real name with strange people on the internet (read: 4chan). Because of this many parents will just turn a blind eye, because they already taught him not to say his real name, as little Johnny goes onto the WoW fora, make an ass of himself and ruins his potential future chances of employment.

The only plus side I can see of this change is that some people will be less inclined to post on the fora and the sheer amount of idiocy and trolls will decrease, a man can dream can he not? I can foresee a possible large scale exodus from Blizzard's fora to the fora of many other community sites where you will not have to use your real name to post. Hopefully these fora aren't ruined forever by a large scale immigration of posters.

In the end the only way I can see Blizzard changing their decision is if their fora becomes a desolate wasteland, void of posters, and even then I highly doubt they would change this system. I have already lost a lot of faith in Blizzard and this is just driving me to the point of considering canceling my Starcraft 2 pre-order. In the end the only way to show a company that you want change is to vote with your wallet and not buy their products.

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