This isn’t meant to be an encyclopedic listing of reactions to the Real ID.net controversy, but it gives you a few links to click if you want to see a variety of reactions. Well… “variety” isn’t the right word, since everyone seems to have the same reaction. (Hatred, loathing, and/or despair.) But you can read different versions of that reaction, by different people! 

    The most-voiced complaints I’ve seen are all related to the loss of pseudo-anonymity. It’s not true anonymity, since registration and a valid cd-key are already required to post on B.net. Most forum users don’t want to be anonymous anyway; that’s why we use the same account and log in and build up a personality and a posting history. We just don’t want our real names and real lives to be attached to everything we do online.

    People are concerned about revealing their gender (sexism, stalking/harassment, loss of role-playing ability) or race (many names carry ethnic clues and can open them up to racism), but mostly people just don’t want their real names attached to their gaming activities. Even aside from the loss of role playing (The “RP” used to stand for something. Is WoW now just an MMO..G?”), do you want current or future employers, family, friends, enemies, etc to be able to find out just how much you play a game? How you play it? When? Where? For people to go from your forum posts to your Facebook? To dig up all of your personal information (as immediately happened with DiabloWikiBashiok, resulted in multiple forum bans, harassment of some other guy with the same name, and Bashiok deleting his FB profile)? 

    And no, most of us won’t be stalked, harassed, spammed, or have our identities stolen based on some forum posts. But some people will. And they’ll surely blame Blizzard, perhaps even seeking legal remedies. Not to get grim or scare-monger, since there’s no epidemic of real life violence from in-game activity, it does happen.

    • The biggest reaction is in Blizzard’s WoW forum, where more than 1065 pages of replies have sizzled into existence already. The masses = displeased, by a hugely-disproportionate ratio.
    • The news on Reddit has generated over 1000 replies as well, most of them echoing the same concerns.
    • Rush at IncGamers.com says Blizzard shouldn’t be making these Real ID options mandatory, and thus stuffing social gaming down everyone’s throat.
    • Ashelia at Hellmode.com laments the loss of a forum identity and covers the special stalking worries faced by women.
    • Icrontic says Blizzard needs to man up and hire some CMs to properly moderate their forums.
    • The Slashdot post stirred up just as apocalyptic a response as you’d expect from that site.
    • If you want lots more, just use a Google News search. More reactions to this are popping up every minute.

    The question a lot of fans are asking is why Blizzard is doing this. What good does it do them? Is it somehow leveraging their user base for higher ad revenue? Is it really going to improve the forums enough to make it worth the hurricane of negative publicity? Couldn’t they just add the new forum features and more moderators, while preserving user names… the way every other well-run forum on earth does? The best official reply I’ve seen to these questions came from Wryxian, one of Blizzard’s WoW CMs for Europe. Here’s the quote:

    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.

    Finally, to lighten the mood, let’s laugh along with Hitler’s reaction to RealID.net, in this much-parodied movie scene.

    “Now I can’t even post on the forums without some madman ordering pizzas to my house!”

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