Trolls, spammers and flamers begone! Blizzard is vowing to out yer nasty arses … and is angering a whole lot of "World of Warcraft" players along the way.
Earlier this week Blizzard — the company responsible for the mega online gaming phenomenon known as "World of Warcrack"… er "Warcraft" — announced that it would begin requiring those who play its games to use their real names when posting comments in its official Battle.net discussion forums.
That's right, a company that has made its fortunes off a game that encourages players to adopt fake identities and spend vast amounts of their time in a fake world has decided it wants players to get real.
Needless to say, the resounding response has been: WTF?
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Blizzard will force players to say bye-bye to forum anonymity starting later this month. The new rule will go into effect on forums for the highly anticipated "StarCraft II" game prior to its launch July 27 and will move on to the "WOW" forums near the launch of the game's "Cataclysm" expansion (coming later this year).
"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," the announcement stated. "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."
But hell hath no fury like 11.5 million "WOW" players scorned. The announcement has been met with thunderous (and, yes, anonymous) protest on Blizzard's forums with gamers calling the decision "ridiculous," "idiotic," and "horrible" and others vowing to cancel their pre-ordered copies of "Cataclysm" or just plain cancel their monthly subscription to "WOW" period.
Many "WOW" players say they understand the desire to cut down on trollish behavior, but they fear that players who haven't done anything wrong will ultimately be the ones to suffer.
"Even as someone who hates the fact that these forums are a joke and overrun with trolls and morons ... I can't stress enough how terrible a solution this is," writes a poster using the name Whiplashr. "I don't want my real name out there. I'm sure that many people who are not trolls and just want to have civil conversation will also not want their real name out there."
Many expressed concerns that potential employers and even potential mates would find their "WOW" activity and use it against them.
"Awesome, so now when a chick I'm interested in decides to google me, she'll find my closet-gamer habit," wrote a player going by the name Patientzero.
Meanwhile, a player going by the name Quira wrote, "People play this game for relaxation on their off time. But, for example, if you had a unique name and applied for a job and the potential employer googled your name and found posts on a gaming forum they may not hire you because they have ill conceived notions about gamers."
Quira also pointed out that using a real name poses a particularly difficult problem for women gamers: "As a female this one bothers me a lot. Not only do I not want to be petitioned by random people for cyberlovin while I am playing a game, but more importantly I do not want to be a target offline. Most males my not understand the fear women have in today's world about this but it is a real and genuine threat that does, sadly, happen. Women are stalked, hurt, even killed every day."
But others, like a poster by the name of Killar_gnome, are happy to see the changes.
"I am really sorry that Blizzard feels it has come to this...But I agree with what they are doing," writes Killar. "EVERY single Blizzard forum has been and still is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. I gave up on the blizz forums a long time ago because it's really not worth the time to navigate through 1000 useless posts/threads."
A poster by the name Raingame agrees, writing: "I love it. I have no problem with people knowing who I am based on my posts, because I try to put thought into them beforehand. Some of the dumbest things I've ever read over the years have been on these forums; this change should dramatically increase the amount of thought and effort put into new threads, discussions, and responses."
How will this shake out?
"This will effectively turn these forums into a complete ghost town." Whiplashr predicted.
But many of those protesting the announcement say they will simply find a way to remain anonymous.
Says Moose85, "Like many other people, I will be creating an alias Battle.Net account so my real name will not be displayed."
The real Winda Benedetti can be found tweeting about games right here on Twitter.
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