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Do in WoW as You would in RL

A couple of days ago, Blizzard, the parent company to World of Warcraft, stunned many people with a privacy-related announcement. They were making changes to the forums, and from an unspecified date in the near future, they will require all forum posters to have their real first and last names, together with all character names, on display on every post they make.

Utilising RealID, a facebook-style service Blizzard rolled out a month ago, the full details and area the person lives in will be available at a click. When Blizzard first rolled out RealID, they said participation was voluntary; now it will be mandatory.

In the first 24 hours since the announcement, the Blizzard forums amassed 800 pages of complaints, many vehement, and from long time users of that virtual world. 12 hours later that number had more than doubled, and continues to increase at an impressive rate.

The main complaint is the company forcing users to mix RL and game life together, akin to handing out name and address details to everyone they meet, and almost forcing them to keep the behaviour in-world to something they don't mind their neighbours knowing about.

In addition to that, there are plenty of unanswered questions. It has always been Blizzard's policy that race, gender, sexual orientation inside WoW should be completely separate to race, gender, sexual orientation outside of WoW. They are now going back on that word and linking the two. What then, happens to those who are transgendered, gay, a member of a political fringe group, or just someone unlucky enough to have a very uncommon name?

Perhaps it would be best for such individuals to keep a very low profile indeed, lest they do something to bring them to the attention of one of the 10 million plus other users who can now find out exactly who they are and where they live, and who perhaps has a very differing view on what lifestyle is ok, and what is not.

Only time will tell where this experiment of Blizzards is going, as they attempt to meld the in-world life and out of world life into the exact same one.



Blizzard Will Soon Force Forum Members to Use Real First and Last Names Update: Upcoming Changes to Forums

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