RealID: Scare-Mongering From A Lot Of People With Funny Names

Wryxian, Blizzard Europe:

We have been planning this change for a very long time. During this time, we have thought ahead about the scope and impact of this change and predicted that many people would no longer wish to post in the forums after this change goes live. We are fine with that, because we want to change these forums dramatically in a positive and more constructive direction.


It’s been very obvious over the last few years that the forums are an exceptionally valuable source of information both for players and for us to gather feedback. There are many threads on this forum now, and over the last few years, that people have been constructively discussing many aspects of the game. They’ve received new wisdom and have then been able to go back to the game and enjoy it further with the new knowledge acquired through the forums.

These threads, however, can often be lost amongst a great deal of other threads that are basically filled with trolling, name calling, flaming, off-topic conversations and that’s just a small amount of some of the content that has been found in these forums over the years. We don’t want that anymore, and we believe the Real ID change will bring about a lot of the improvement that we are hoping for.

There’s a lot of scare-mongering going on about the change, but there seems a need to make something very clear. The forums have always been an optional extra — something you can choose to participate in if you wish to. With our Real ID changes for the forums, this is still the case. The only difference will be, if you do choose to participate in the forums, then you will do so by using your real name. But only after you’ve been warned and accepted this in advance.

Wryxian, Blizzard Europe (again):

A lot of legitimate and understandable concerns are being raised. It would be hard for myself or any caring individual to not empathise with the fears and concerns people have. But amidst these concerns there is also a bit of something going on that I can’t easily describe with other words, but I’ll try.


Posting on the forums with your real name will be optional — yes, in the sense that the options are simply post and show your real name, or do not post and you keep it confidential. If people are happy to post and do not feel intimidated by this, then great — hopefully they will also post constructively (though it’s fair to say, this isn’t a given). It might be scary to consider posting with your real name, in which case it might be advisable simply not to post in these forums. There’s a whole load of other forums across the internet where you’ll be able to post in a more anonymous way, and maybe you will make a useful and constructive contribution there instead.

If you really do read all posts in this thread and others, like we are doing, then you will see some examples of what I was meaning by “scare-mongering”. There are posts from some people who are either confused by the changes or generally uncertain, and they are getting understandably scared and then posting in a way that scares other people in the process. With such a change as we have outlined, it is completely understandable that people can and do feel this way. Describing the process of scaring others and raising the level of general fear as “scare-mongering” does not in any way diminish people’s validity in doing so, nor does it dismiss the usefulness of anyone expressing themselves in any way, including in a way I might describe as “scare-mongering”; the term simply describes it for what it appears to be.

Randy Farmer, virtual world architect/pioneer:

It is completely unreasonable to expect that people will understand the risks of using their real names on a message board – and if they DO understand, I contend that most people won’t bother posting anything at all.


In short:

  • The trolls now get more information to harass
  • The best players will leave
  • The casual players will panic when they realize that their private-time activity is now public.

This is lose-lose. The worst kind of change. The only upside I see is the ability to lay off board moderation staff as traffic (good andbad) plummets.

Sanya Weathers, community management expert:

We won’t know the legal truth until Blizzard gets sued for wrongful death.


Yes, I said death, and no, I’m not overreacting. Someone is going to get stalked through because some whackadoodle fell in love with an avatar. Maybe the victim did a little roleplay and the stalker took it too seriously. Maybe the victim hurt the stalker’s widdle feewings during a message board discussion. Who knows. Marriages break up (and reform) every day thanks to MMO drama leaking out into the real world. Blizzard should know this better than anyone. Good lord, you can’t go a week without an international advice column posting some complaint about a spouse or a kid that is too involved in WoW. That’s not Blizzard’s fault. “Here’s the real name of the person who sexxored you and then changed her mind/called you an idiot in front of all your friends/won’t talk to you because you’re creepy” will lead to something disastrous. Unfortunately, the person to whom the disaster occurs will be one of the people who is sitting here today scoffing at the “scare-mongerers” and “alarmists.” Because the scare-mongerers and the alarmists won’t be posting.

Spinks, blogger:

There was a time when Blizzard was viewed as a company run by and for gamers. That time is now over. Even aside from the wrongs or rights of the proposal, no company that fails so badly in understanding gamer culture can really claim to be one of us any more.

Ysharros, blogger:

It’s a game. Or, it’s this blog. It’s something I do in my spare time that has NO relation to my professional or a large part of my personal life and I see no freaking reason why everything should be made public when it’s not my explicit there-and-then decision to share said info. (So my decision in this case is going to be: keep your fucking games thank you very much.)


It’s not that I object to people knowing who I am if *I* choose to share it with them. After all, I don’t get on the bus and tell every bloody passenger on it what my name is. They have no particular right to know it and I have zero obligation to tell them. So why the hell should every asshat — and god knows there are a lot of them — in a given game be able to find out exactly who I am, where I live, what my gender is and how much I enjoy being stalked?

Tobold, blogger:

Social networks using real names can work, but the history of Facebook shows that one fundamental rule for these networks is that you can’t have people signing up with some level of presumption of privacy, and then withdraw that privacy protection later. Thus it would be okay for Blizzard to lets say release their next MMO game with a RealID system and inform everybody that their real name will be used in that game. It is *not* okay to let people play for nearly 6 years under anonymity, and then strip that anonymity away. Even if the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory predicts that stripping people of their anonymity will make them behave better.

Larisa, blogger:

If we can’t communicate with Ghostcrawler through the forums anymore, since they put adults with concerns about their personal integrity in the same group as trolls, we can always go back to old-fashioned hand written letter writing. It’s a forgotten art, but it’s not as hard as it may seem. All you need is a pencil, a paper, an envelope and a stamp. Quite handy when you think about it. You don’t even need electricity!

Syncaine, blogger:

Can this thing launch already? This is like watching a car accident, only instead of seeing the flaming wreck after it happens, you’re like Nicolas Cage in that movie no one saw where he can predict the future, and you actually get to wait for the car wreck to happen right in front of you.

Carebare, moderator, Elitist Jerks:

The idea of merging RealID into the Blizzard forums is dumb. The more places that say it’s dumb the better (which includes here). If your post violates our forum rules we will infract you for it, but the do not whine rule is waived for this thread only. Carry on.

Nattie, commenter, Metafilter:

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.

Anonymous RL friend, IM conversation:

1:56:58 PM Friend: ok go ahead and realid me 1:57:04 PM Friend: cause you and i will be the only two left playing 1:57:10 PM Me: heh! 1:58:07 PM Friend: i’m serious 1:58:08 PM Friend: everyone is leaving 🙁