Thursday, July 8, 2010

and you say that you can when you know that you won't

Stephen King is my hero.

So, Blizzard says they're listening to complaints about the RealID implementation.
"[We] will be carefully monitoring how people are using the service," a Blizzard representative told Worlds in Motion sister site Gamasutra this week.
Apparently, they're listening about as well as Linden Labs has the past two years.

There are other worrying signs in the article. Notably, that anyone is free to not opt in to the service (in which case, they have no posting rights in the forums), or to enable parental controls on their account (in which case, they have no posting rights in the forums). They can also "choose" not to use their real name when setting up accounts on Blizzard products:
Players can actually register any name they wish when signing up for their Real ID -- but an account for a given game must be tied to a unique CD key for that game, and Blizzard says it plans to attempt to enforce the use of legitimate names.
Of course, the problem is:
"[...] if a player uses a fake name, it would ultimately impact our ability to provide him or her with timely service."
Is that what they're calling it now? Of course it would.

As many readers know, I don't play WoW. Never been interested. It's not that I don't like MMOs--I play Runes, and the slutty sorceress factor in Tera may pull me in; I was wholly looking forward to Gatheryn until my personal circumstances changed.

And it's not even that I don't think companies don't have every right to know who's playing their games. When age verification came along in SL, I age-verified. I gave the Labs identifying information about me, accurate real info, and I don't feel bad about that. And I've had payment info on file since six weeks into the game.

But. There is a distinct, and might I say, brutal difference between handing over my name, my address, my phone number, and my credit card information to people in charge of my world; and those selfsame people taking that information and making it public to everyone I know. And everyone they know. And the six thousand folks those people sort of know. And everyone in Albuquerque, and their friends in Toronto, and the 39,000 gold spammers in China who seem to know everyone in these games...

It reminds me very much of those STD ads social health orgs used to run--"When you sleep with Mary, you're not just sleeping with her--you're sleeping with everyone she knows. And everyone they know." It sounds paranoiac and insane, but it's kind of true: register your real name using RealID and you're not just giving your name to your trusted friends, you're giving it to their trusted friends. And the people they sorta trust. And the people friended to those people who they may not quite remember clearly. And those people have friends, and those people have friends, and...on and on. How far does the circle ripple away from you and your real name? Endlessly far, with over a million confirmed individual accounts on World of Warcraft alone.

Echo Bazaar, meanwhile, in the wake of this great tsunami of protest, launched their own mildly controversial position change. I am not immediately going up in arms about this: for one, I play in Fallen London, and I adore the people, and when I can support them, I do (and I do intend to buy tie-in merchandise, though I do wish the Rubbery Men were on a mug). But second, they aren't insisting anyone sign up on Facebook. It's just an option. So they won't be bereft of players of the Great Game when Twitter inevitably sinks under the weight of its own massive tweetage. It's an option, it's not a demand.

I like them for that.


Tay said...

Well put!

Emilly Orr said...


I think the thing that's making this personal for me is that I'm a diehard Diablo fan. And while yes, I was shuddering at news of World of DiabloCraft, this is finally the irrevocable line etched in stone. I won't be playing anything that Blizzard insists must be played with the option for RealID.

But fine, lose me, I'm not paying them a subscription fee for any service. No big loss, right? How many current WoW paying customers are going to spin off and away? And why should reasonable adults who pay a monthly fee for the service have to essentially gag themselves, or risk their real names spread everywhere?

I'm hearing things about actual Blizzard employees who are now voluntarily gagging themselves on the forums, even though they are support staff--because they don't want their real names tied to their work. And they work for Blizzard. How insane is that?

Sphynx Soleil said...

When the STAFF don't want to do that...

...that doesn't speak well of the system AT ALL.

Emilly Orr said...

It really, really doesn't.