Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Real names only please...

The internet is all aquiver with the news that Blizzard have made the decision that users of their forums will have to start using their real names on the forum:

"The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name"

But surely online pseudonyms and make-believe are an integral and accepted element of the internet (on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog...) - why would you want to change that Blizzard? Well, apparently:

"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."

Oh, that's right - because people never argue with each other when they know each other's real names. Well, I hate to break it to Blizzard, but I don't see that 'removing the veil of anonymity' is going to make a huge difference to the quality of online dialogue - but it could make a huge difference as to how such dialogue can be escalated.

Have a fairly unique name? Well, you might just find that the person you vehemently disagreed with about the exact mechanics of the Zerg Rush is now banging on your front door hoping to continue the disagreement in real life. And they brought a shotgun to add merit to their perspective. Or maybe they didn't disagree - maybe they agreed very strongly with you - and now, they're in lurve with you - chalk up yourself one internet stalker. And that is just the tip of a particularly unpleasant iceberg...

There are so many drawbacks to this idea - and the community is so inflamed - that I will be surprised if Blizzard go through with this. And, if they do, don't be surprised if there are soon tumbleweeds blowing through large sections of the forums.