Last night hubby was telling me about some upcoming changes that are soon to be implemented on the Blizzard forums, using the Real ID system I mentioned awhile back. Like most, I'm not too thrilled about this upcoming change, in where if you want to post on any of the Blizzard forums (Starcraft, WoW, etc) you will have to sign in using your Real ID which will display your REAL first and last name.
Today, while reading through my Twitter feed, I noticed WoW Youtuber TradeChat posted a link to a post made by Ciderhelm of Tankspot regarding the upcoming change in which he calls it unethical and dangerous (for those not familar with Ciderhelm or Tankspot, he is very well known in the WoW community for posting some of the best instructional raid boss strategy videos that many, many guilds use, link to and reference).
As Ciderhelm posts, there are a few very very bad things that can come from having your Real ID on the WoW forums displaying your real first and last name.
One of the big ones a lot of people aren't thrilled about is that just like anything online, your employer or potential employer can Google your name and anything you post on the Blizzard forums will now show up too - unless you have a really cool boss that plays too, most employers probably won't be too thrilled to learn they hired a gaming addict. And who knows about that boss that plays - could they get in trouble with corporate or their shareholders for being associated with online gaming this easily? Many people play to get away from the stresses of real life - this is just adding one more stress as now all their co-workers can learn that they have a gaming habit. Many that don't play, don't get it and tend to look negatively on those that play, as they see it being a waste of time (try explaining to a non-gamer that you have a raid at 7pm on Saturday night - they may think you're a loser for spending your evening online "playing games" instead of going out for drinks with everyone else). No matter how much time you put into gaming or how much you may actually accomplish or learn (just recently it was learned that a CEO at Starbucks says everything he knows about managing the corporate world he learned from being a guildleader in WoW), many still view gaming as a slacker's hobby and no employer wants to hire a slacker.
Another big issue is gender and age.
There are PLENTY of minors that play WoW, most with parental approval, but honestly, I doubt many of the parents actually monitor their teenage kid's activity in game or what they post on the forums. Now I have met some VERY mature 15 year olds in game, some even playing/raiding with their parents who are also in the guild, but I have also met some VERY immature teens in game too - ones that go off on you for refusing to give them gold handouts, or whine if you beat them in a duel or outroll them on loot (I've also met adults that do this too) - these kids could very well destroy their future on these forums if this is implimented. I'm not saying we should approve of their nasty behavior, but let's face it, kids are kids - teens have a bad habit of not thinking before they say and do things and just like anything online - sure you can go back and delete it, but who knows how many people have already seen what was posted? Not to mention the fact, there's the whole safety issue of Blizzard giving out the first and last names of minors. Sure, it won't display their age with it, but if you run in similar circles in game (PVP circles, raid circles, etc) most likely people in the same circle as you have some rough idea as to your age - like I said, I've come across quite a bit of minors ingame. Who's to say some malicious angry person they may have crossed in game won't take that anger and maliciousness to a whole new level outside the game? I mean they have the kid's name now, which means they could probably find the kid on Facebook, stalk them on there, and do who knows what. This is just fail on Blizzard's part.
And of course many women are fearing an increase in sexual harassment now. Being a female gamer, it's not uncommon to occasionally get hit on or sometimes have unwanted sexual attention or things said to you by some guy in game who found out you were female. Now, with our real names shown, it means ANYONE trolling the forums can know for sure that we're female, roll an alt on our server, and come harass us in game. Reading some of the responses to the Blue Post about this change, there's quite a few females who have come forward stating that Blizzard has done little to nothing regarding with punishing those that sexually harass women in game - all they're doing now is giving those same predators even more women to look up and harass. And not only that, but since they have our names, they can Google us and look up our Facebook and who knows what other accounts and being stalking us outside the game - not very smart, Blizzard!
Another big issue, which I fall into this category, is the safety of those of us with uncommon names. Now my married name is quite common, as is the combination of my husband's first and last name, so he doesn't have too much too worry about with this, as there's hundreds with his name, however, my WoW account is still in maiden name, is it was too much of a pain in the ass to change it to my married name (requires faxing a whole bunch of documents to Blizzard and then some). My maiden name, for those that know me in Real Life, is VERY uncommon. You Google that name and I'm the only one that comes up. And I have a small handful of douches on my server that seem to have it out for me** - the last thing I want is for these jerks to have my real name and be able to track me down outside of game and continue their harassment (as it is, if I'm on my pally - the toon I'm most known by - and I say something in a public chat channel and one of them is in there too, even 2 years later they STILL bring it up and publicly harass me - I've gotten so I ignore it, but I still have to inform the members of whatever guild or group I'm in of what actually happened).
There's also the issue with identity theft too. Now like I said, those with common names, they don't have to worry quite so much about this, and while it has been said that your identity can't be stolen with just your first and last name, well, it gives those that want to do it a good place to start! Like I said, accidentally cross some malicious, angry player and now that they can find out your first and last name via the forums, who knows how and what lengths they'll go to to mess up your life outside the game, all because you outrolled them on an item or beat them in PVP!
This is also gives spammers and hackers one more way to try and steal your account and increase their phishing scams as now with your first and last name they can look you up and spam you even more now in other ways (ie: spam you with fake links to your Facebook account, or even your business email!)
I really hope Blizzard rethinks this through and reconsiders before it goes live with Starcraft 2 at the end of the month - as it is, there's well over 60 pages of people upset and worried about this "solution." The whole reason for it, Blizzard is saying, is to put an end to trolling and spamming on the forums, which is annoying, but like others have suggested, there's other ways to go about it, such as make the person choose which toon of theirs they want their Real ID to be associated with or make it so that regardless with toon they post with, you can still see all the other toons associated with that Real ID, or even make it so the toon you're posting under is a certain level to post - that would take care of all the lowbie and level 1 trolls!
Displaying a player's real first and last name with their posts in the forums is just a bad, bad idea - there's too many bad, malicious problems that can come from this, as not everyone in the World of Warcraft (or the Blizzard gaming community for that matter) is nice, friendly and innocent.
As it is, there's plenty of players who don't really even post on their realm forums where much of this trolling and drama is spurned from, but they do share mechanics and suggestions with others in the class forums, to help others learn how to play their character's class and spec better. There's also plenty of people who post on the customer service and tech support forums, to share with Blizzard what their problem is and work with the mods and staff to find a solution, all publicly so that others with the same problem can see what to do to fix it. Now these "good samaritans" to the Blizzard community will be at risk for harassment outside the game as well as even identity theft.
I know if this is implimented I most likely won't EVER post on the forums anymore - it's just not worth the harassment I know I'll get from those few jerks who are convinced I did something I didn't. Although then again, maybe they'll finally drop it, knowing that I can see their real name now too... either way... it's still not cool.
Way to fail, Blizzard. Way. To. Fail.
**hubby's account got hacked over 2 years ago and the hacker robbed the guild bank as he was an officer and then transferred the character to another server, Blizzard took like a month to restore it cuz they had to do an investigation into the case due to the severity of the hack, we have the emails to prove all this, yet since I had quit the guild months prior due to personal issues I had with the leadership several of the guildleaders and friends of theirs seem convinced it was all my doing, even though I was on another toon of mine when it happened. They're also convinced we sold the items and such to a gold site and used the money to pay for our wedding, even though Blizzard eventually restored everything and my parents paid for our wedding - I highly doubt the value of the items that were stolen cost enough real life money to even pay for my dress, let alone an entire wedding!