Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Eva Galperin criticises the way Blizzard will force players to post with their real name on their boards.
EFF members describes themselves as “the first line of defence when our freedoms in the networked world come under attack”. They have worked for a safe and free internet since 1990, and anonymity in certain areas is one thing they consider important. Joining the voices of tens of thousands of gamers and game journalists, Galperin comments on these changes:
“To assume ? as Blizzard seems to have assumed ? that anonymity enables only “ugly speech” is the product of a failed imagination. Anonymous speech has always been an integral part of free speech because it enables individuals to speak up and speak out when they otherwise may find reason to hide or self-censor. Behind the veil of anonymity, individuals are more free to surface honest observations, unheard complaints, unpopular opinions ? incidentally, all healthy contributions to an evolving gaming community.”
While there’s already been massive gatherings of great articles regarding the Real ID enforcement and pages“>thousands of pages of replies in Blizzard’s own (still somewhat anonymous) forums. IncGamers’ Director Paul Younger posted his response the other day when it was red hot news, but the topic has been continuously gaining momentum.
EFF generally comments and tries to act on more major threats to internet freedom, so if they comment on such a “small” thing as one game company’s two games web forums, it just shows they feel this issue can have bigger implications.
Penny Arcade is usually a pretty snappy site to give critique when needed amongst game developers and publishers. While their comic strip response to this Real ID issue isn’t as harsh as some of their previous reactions (well, death is pretty harsh), Tycho thinks “the idea that this persona must bear your actual name to lend it value (for you, or for others) is ludicrous.”
Tychus also links to this user comment at Metafilter.com, which pretty much dissects the entire topic from top to bottom. A female gamer with plenty of bad experiences even without her real name shown to the public talks of what she feel would make matters worse.
On a more interesting turn, the Aussie gamers at GamePro reveals games publisher GamersFirst has pledged to protect gamer identities in the wake of Blizzard’ compulsory real name reveal of users from message boards. The company added that this could be “the beginning of the end” for World of Warcraft’s (WoW) online dominance if Blizzard continues this militant denial of community opinions.
It would be very interesting to know what the community managers within Blizzard think about this whole thing. One thing is for sure, there’s plenty of speculation.