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Battle.net 'Real ID' System To Require Full Names On Forums
Battle.net 'Real ID' System To Require Full Names On Forums
July 6, 2010 | By Chris Remo

July 6, 2010 | By Chris Remo
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In an attempt to "promote constructive conversations" and curb "flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness," Blizzard will require users to use their real names when posting to forums on the company's Battle.net community site.

During the StarCraft II beta test phase, Blizzard introduced a "Real ID" feature, allowing players to add each other to their in-game friends list through a mutual agreement system that displays their real names alongside their Battle.net account names. According to a Blizzard employee post on the Battle.net forums today, that Real ID system will remain optional within games, but will be mandatory for both users and Blizzard employees when posting on the forums.

That requirement will be rolled out to the StarCraft II forum as the game approaches release later this month, and will extend to World of Warcraft as that game nears its ship date, expected later this year. Blizzard says "certain classic forums" will remain unchanged.

"The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players -- however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild," explained a Blizzard employee going by the name Nethaera.

"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before."

Blizzard says that players of its games "have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans," and the company believes that its Real ID system will help facilitate "a new and different kind of online gaming environment -- one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships."

It is not clear how Blizzard plans to enforce the real name requirement. When creating a new Battle.net account, players can choose any first and last name they wish. However, to post in a given game forum, the user account must be tied to a unique CD key for that particular game, meaning most players cannot effectively create multiple forum-enabled accounts without buying redundant copies of games. Blizzard may be relying on that account scarcity to encourage players to ensure their primary account is legitimate. Gamasutra has contacted the company for further comment.


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Comments


Wylie Garvin
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They rolled out this Real ID feature in World of Warcraft already, and it has some privacy problems. Your Real ID friends all see your real name (first and last) that you signed up for the account with. But so do *their* friends, and there's no way to opt out of that. So do you trust the friends of your friends? They can google your name on sites like facebook, and find out a lot about you that way. If your resume is on the web and your street address is on it, they can then put that address into google and see what your house looks like. Its bad news.



Its obvious that Blizzard is trying to be facebook, with all the subscription stickyness and data-mining opportunities that that entails. If they actually cared about players' privacy, they would make the friends-of-friends feature optional, and/or allow them to choose a "screen name" for their account instead of revealing the real name.

Wylie Garvin
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Also, requiring real names on the forums is will probably mean that most substantive discussions about the game will take place on 3rd-party forums, where Blizzard will have no opportunity to spin or do damage control.

Alan Rimkeit
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I trust people on this web site with my real name. On a public game forum for Star Craft? Not so much. I will NOT be posting on the public forums for Star Craft ever.

Matt Ross
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why a Real name? why not just One alias you Can't change? as far as I can tell, the only difference between that and a Real name is that with a Real name, the people will be able to look you up an murder you in RL. something they would also be able to do with out being provoked.



I just can't understand what a Real name achieves over some permanent, Battle.net account bound alias?



"When creating a new Battle.net account, players can choose any first and last name they wish"



ok cool... but that seems a bit vague? will there be repercussions for not putting your real name here??



this seems confusing... just make is like anything else: like steam even... make them just pick a unique alias for their account name, that will be used as your display name everywhere, if you drive it into the dirt, too bad, you'd have no choice but to re-buy all your games.

Anton Pustovoyt
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A step in really wrong direction.. On such forums all kind of people gather, and I would never leave my real name there. If they wanted to contribute towards a community with less alts and trolls they could made all characters on posters account visible, which would show everyone his mains.



One thing for sure, I will keep away from official forums.

Jed Hubic
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John Smith: "I'm glad Blizzard implemented this real name policy on the board here to cut down on trolling."



Dicks N. Yormouth: "Shut up."

Maurício Gomes
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I wonder how fast brazillians will swamp the forums with the popular names puns that we have here, and work as real names in english, like Thomas Turbando (it is Tou Masturbando, or I am Masturbating...) or Waik Agha (Vai Cagar, or Go Defecate) or Alicia Paul (alise o pau, or stroke the cock...)

gus one
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I think it's a great idea. The only downside everyone will now know my name is not gus despite calling me it for the last 10 years haha.



And if people are stupid enough to have a facebook account then they cannot really complain if "someone" googles them. You're already on the internet for the World to see in the first place. What a silly argument.

Scott Volkmer
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its funny how a large amount of people thinks that other gamers are going to kill you. that everyone but you are a psychopath thats out for blood.

Ben Reichert
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I think both Scott and Gus's arguments are valid. If you have a Facebook account, you must already be prepared to have people look "at your house". And, I also don't understand this fear gamers have of other gamers! Sure I compete in games PvP and chalk up the kills, but that doesn't mean I want to go and kill you in real life... That argument just feeds the critics who say video games lead to violence. If anything, we should embrace our mutual liking for a particular game. That's when real sportsmanship comes alive. I think the real name requirement is an interesting way forward for video games - but I guess it's hard to make the leap from playing against an AI, to a real (anonymous) player, to someone we can actually identify - and even identify with.

Thomas Lo
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Blizzard and more specifically actovision can kiss my ass with their privacy-violating bullsh*t. They pretty much guaranteed I will never re-open my WOW account and that I will make a separate account for Bnet with a fake name and address.



There are better ways to deal with trolling than with using real names.



What I do in my spare time is my business, and not really blizzard's or anyone else's as long as it doesn't harm anyone else.

Matthew Cooper
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This will not stand!!!!!



-Matthew Cooper

Chan Chun Phang
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I don't think this would make anyone want to kill anybody. However, it might make that person who got the uber e-peen item of magnificence a target of targeted hacking/scamming/abuse.



@Ben Reichert

Not everyone has a facebook account because of said reasons. At least, I don't.



(then again, who are we to complain? Aren't we mostly using a similar naming system, RIGHT HERE?)

Matthieu Poujade
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... and today's "laugh out loud in the office" award goes to Jed Hubic, for his acidic and witty comment. Thank you, kind sir.

Tejas Oza
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I'm not too sure about this. Of course, I see no problem with people knowing my real name, what with Facebook and other networking sites, its not that hard for anyone to find out who I am. I can foresee people using the system to spite each other sometimes, though... Have an argument with someone on the forums, find their profile and post something there or what not, but that's an extreme case and networking sites generally have fail-safes in place for that.



Its the part about reducing the general unpleasantness that I'm just a little skeptical. Sure, having a real name up there and all will make people think a little more before saying or doing something stupid on a forum but that won't stop it entirely... However, (and yes I know I'm contradicting myself, but I'm just typing and thinking at the same time) with only one account to use, I think people might run the risk of being banned for being antagonistic which should be deterrent enough.



So, all in all, I'd like to see it implemented and see just how effective this is.

Todd Boyd
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@Thomas: "What I do in my spare time is my business, and not really blizzard's or anyone else's as long as it doesn't harm anyone else."



Well, since you're playing Blizzard's IP, on Blizzard's servers, you don't have as much ground to stand on as you thought. I'm not saying I agree with their decision to "lift the veil of anonymity", but I can understand their impetus to do so.

Adam Bishop
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It's well known that World of Warcraft has a high population of female gamers. It's also known that male gamers are frequently jerks to female players, so a lot of those females deliberately hide their identity. If they're forced to reveal their sex to everyone in the world just to post on the forums, my guess is that a significant portion of Blizzard's female gamers will decide never to post on the forums because they don't want to open themselves up to harassment, both in-game and in real life.



While I agree that it's pretty unlikely that someone is going to kill you in real life because you beat them in PVP or argued with them on the forums, I think it's *extremely* likely that women will be harassed if they're forced to reveal their gender. Good job, Blizzard, you're well on the path to alienating a huge portion of your player base!

Mark Harris
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Not a big deal to me. I normally use my real name anyway, since I don't tend to act like a jerk both online and offline. The key word being "tend". We all lose it every now and again but the shame from losing your cool helps temper your reactions the next time around.





EDIT:

@ Adam : perhaps it will make it easy to identify and ban the people doing the harassing? I think you have a point but the lack of anonymity can work positively as well.

Glenn Sturgeon
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So is it possible Blizzard wants real names so the trolls and bung holes get beaten & harrassed in TRW like they slam and harrassed people online? That'd be a good detourrent 8)



I've played diablo2 for the past 10 years and never had any reason or intrest in posting to thier forum.

I think youtube could use that method to. lol JK,)

Sean Parton
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@Adam Bishop: The gender issue is an extremely good point that no-one else has brought up. Nice catch.



@Mark Harris: With however many million people playing WoW, with mule accounts, and probably people with money to burn and time to waste, I'd expect there be an effectively infinite supply. After all, we're talking about the forum that the hosts have specifically gone on record as saying are "a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild". You don't change that overnight, and in the transitioning time (if it at all occurs, which I'm doubtful to), I think enough would have already been lost.

Mark Harris
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Even with a single account with a single "real name" bound to a unique CD key? An infinite supply of people willing to shell out $50 or $60 per game copy just to harass people?



I don't have much experience with WoW forums and such so I'm going to lean on you guys here. If a majority believe that this won't curb a good portion of flaming and possibly even increase harassment of the female gaming population then I'll cede to your wisdom.

Bob Stevens
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It's irrelevant whether or not it decreases flame wars. I give my personal information to Blizzard so that I can pay for their games, not so that they can require me to reveal it to use their services.

Sean Parton
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@Mark Harris: Two words: Key gen.



Don't rule out the lulz-seeking of /b/tards at the very least. They've done worse for less.

Brett Williams
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It should be noted that this is only required to participate in the new online community forums. This means it is an opt-in scenario. You can choose not to participate in Blizzards new community and your information is not revealed.



This does however lead to that "Using 3rd party" note that Wylie mentions above. People that don't choose to display their name will then discontinue their use of the service. Whether this is what Blizzard intends I am not sure.

Buck Hammerstein
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think about this: is the purpose of using real names in forums to control negative posts by inducing fear of revenge by the public in real life?



by revealing our true names is blizzard controlling their forums any better than simply policing them with moderators?



fear of retaliation in real life for expressing oneself online can only diminish the quality of discussions as we can never all agree when posting our opinions. blizzard appears to believe that "outing" people will curb negative posts but it will ultimately quiet the rest of the masses. this policy is hoping that sean, brett, mark and todd don't troll because they may live within stabbing range of buck. the brave new world is being built on a foundation of fear... nice.

Mark Harris
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I think it's less about "stabbing range" and more about the fear that people will associate your real name with being an asshat on the forums. That's not an irrational fear of reprisal but follows from our general want to be accepted as a valued member of a community (for most people).



Although it's apparent from previous posts that there are plenty of ways around this policy and people are seemingly absurdly creative when it comes to getting their harass on.

Raul Fernandez
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Honestly, I don't think the flames will be going down only displaying your real name. You will be posting in a forum with thousands of users where only your rl friends or close contact knows that name belong to you, and we have again the paradox of "veil of anonymity".

Buck Hammerstein
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if acceptance by the community is someone's ideal then they can choose to use their real name. though poignant comments written under any name still have the same weight and value.



it takes just one bad seed to take it it to extremes (http://www.gamerevolution.com/manifesto/french-gamer-stabs-player
-in-revenge-1089).



i can also see employers checking to see if you're posting on forums during work hours. yet another "perk" of having to use real names online i guess.

Aaron Truehitt
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I like the idea. Like Champions Online did, it hooks you to one overall account. I approve of that. Revealing true first and last names? Not so much, I should have a choice in that matter. Isn't this an invasion of privacy somehow? Well I guess not since you don't have to participate.

Adam Bishop
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In totally shocking news people have already found a security flaw in the RealID system that allows addons to find out your real name if you're signed up for a RealID. What a stupid, stupid idea this was. If they didn't forsee this kind of thing then they're appallingly naieve, and I don't even want to consider what it would mean if they knew this kind of thing would happen and went ahead with the plan anyway . . .



http://www.wow.com/2010/07/06/security-flaw-allows-addons-to-expo
se-full-real-life-names-witho/

Mark Harris
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It has no discrete effect on free speech, but as Adam pointed out earlier it may have a chilling effect on females or other groups who fear being targeted for harassment on the forums.

WoW Player
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Why does Blizzard need our real names anyway? That's a stupid policy. As long as I pay my bill who cares what name I provide.

Mark Harris
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For internal reasons they need your real name to match your credit card info, for fraud investigations, for marketing purposes, and general other big brother shenanigans.



For external reasons they believe, perhaps stupidly, that if you are required to post on forums using your real name you are less likely to be a flaming turd.

Robert Green
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A long time ago, back when gamespot was videogames.com, I was a mod on the forums, where they also had a real name policy. There were still some flamers, but on the whole the conversation was pretty mature compared to the norm. Then, one day, they announced that they were dropping that policy. Within a month, the conversation had taken a noticeable turn for the worse. Soon after, things got so bad they had to set up special sub-forums dedicated to forum wars, just to try and encourage that kind of person to stay out of the other sub-forums.

Based on my experience, people (younger people especially) really do think twice about what they say when it's attached to their name.

Of course the downside for blizzard is that many such people simply didn't use those forums when the real name policy was in effect. This may well result in many people quitting the WoW forums and, by extension, thinking about quitting WoW completely. But not for good reasons, unless the ability to speak without being held responsible is considered worth defending.



As for the privacy issues, I think it might be better in the long run to get them out in the open. There's a negative stigma about women in WoW? Forcing forum users to show their real name will bring this out in the open, where it will probably get worse, for a while. Then, people will get over it. They'll see how many women there are in gaming and it will help drive a change in how people perceive gamers, something that's been slowly changing since before the time when Pimp My Ride started putting game consoles in every car.

Similarly for someone who might be concerned about how being exposed as a long-time WoW player might impact their professional life. It shouldn't, and forcing the situation helps us come out of the preverbial closet. As long as everyone involved pretends that being a gamer is something to be ashamed of, it will continue to be so. But the kids of today are growing up in an environment where almost everyone is a gamer, and so this attitude of gaming being a niche market for young boys is doomed anyway. Why not try and get this out in the open, and expose the hypocrisy where major news channels often only cover gaming when there's some kind of controversy?


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