Terra Nova Ahoy!

How did I lose one of the best blogs/sites/interesting educational places EVAR from my RSS feed? I’m going to assume temporary insanity.

Fortunately, thanks to several link-the-link posts on The Great RealID Shitstorm of 2010 (GRIS – or “grease” for short), I found them again. If you don’t know Terra Nova then you should go there at once and check the place out. It’s erudite with lots of erudite posts and links to other erudite people and places. I feel smarter as soon as the page loads on my browser.

Also — and no, I don’t think I’m done posting and commenting on the GRIS issue — there’s another great post there by RealID-Timothy Burke that predates just about anyone else. Actually though, what really caught my eye was an author addendum in the comments, which I’m going to quote because it’s nail-on-the-head kind of stuff. Original post here; read it.

Two further thoughts. The first is that this kind of shift is a further outgrowth of the kind of near-theological faith that culture is the product of design that Thomas Malaby talks about in his new book on Second Life. It’s not just Blizzard: there’s a new wave of “eliminate the anonymity, and you eliminate cultural problems on the Internet” thinking going around in a lot of designers’ talk. There is certainly something to PvP’s famous Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but the problem is that the design-centric theories always assume there is a short road between a design choice and a complex cultural formation, and that changing the design choice instantly pivots the complex culture as well. If there’s any lesson MMO devs ought to have learned by now, it isn’t so, but there you go.

This. (As they say on forums. I still don’t really get that. Well, I get it, but I don’t get it.)

Whatever. Also in the comments, by Alenda Chang, this:

While I agree that pushing toward an exact convergence of virtual and “real-world” identity is not necessarily the silver bullet for trolling, misogyny, and other maladies of online discourse, let’s remind ourselves of the imperfections of the status quo. As a female, minority gamer I’m often bothered as much by inaction, silence, and anonymity as I am by events, outbursts, and invasions of privacy (I’m thinking of Lisa Nakamura’s writings in this regard). Playing World of Warcraft, how often have I remained quiet on Ventrilo voice-chat servers, and how often have I ignored the often racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic chatter perpetually reeled out in chat channels? Perhaps Real ID and the controversy it generates provide a vital jolt to our virtual apathy about existing inequalities.

She’s right, and while it’s almost blindingly obvious to me as I read her comment, I also didn’t consciously articulate this to myself either in the last few days. Point being RealID as presented this week might not be the best solution, but the current situation isn’t exactly good either if you’re not white, male, 18-25 and called John Smith.

Maybe one of the good things to come out of this week is the debate itself — past the initial hysteria and position-taking, maybe we’ll be able to have a genuine discussion about what’s good in gamer culture (anonymity included) and what’s bad in gamer culture (anonymity included) and how we might be able to improve things.

That said, you’ll never convince me that putting me in a massive facebook-equivalent is an improvement. I already don’t like FB much (and therefore don’t post much) because I’m one of those people who thinks that what I spend most of my days doing is private and not for public consumption — and that really, it’s not even that bloody interesting. I sleep, I wake up, I eat, I do stuff, some of which is gaming.

I have nothing to hide, apart from a boringly normal life. But if I DO. NOT. WANT. to share, I shouldn’t be viewed with suspicion. What the hell happened to the right to just keeping oneself to oneself?

This debate has more heads than hydra, and every time one part of it seems hashed out, two more show up.

Power to the People — Blizzard backs down



Here it is in black and white — well, in blue on dark grey, anyway. Here’s the essential blahblah:

We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

So presumably the reaction was big enough to have an impact. Maybe the sub cancellations were big enough. We’ll probably never know, but hey, it’s a victory. RealID remains optional in the game stuff — which is fine. Options, as I have said here many a time, are A Good Thing. If people want to share their real identities with each other that’s their business and their prerogative; those who don’t want won’t have to.

Lest some frothloony supporter find this site and accuse me of being a troll-hag, I’d like to add: accountability is devoutly to be wish’d, especially on cesspool forums like the WoW ones. But when it comes at the price this would have, it’s pointless.

The cynical part of me wonders if this is just a public Friday backing-down so that they can slip something in under the radar in a few days, weeks or months. I guess we’ll see.

Many thanks to commenter RealNameForSure-Sev on the previous post for pointing this out to me.

EDIT — so I posted this an hour ago, but apparently I didn’t. My internet farted! Anyway, it’s here now or YOU wouldn’t be here, right?

Friday Fail Frenzy

Yes yes, it’s news so old now it’s practically fossilised, and we should move on to the Next Big Thing.

This RealID bullshit? This is the Big Thing. To be honest I have no idea if the idea of privacy is enshrined in any constitution anywhere in the world, but it should be (and I should be a damn sight better-educated on stuff like this). I’d like to have the right of free speech please and all attendant worship, grouping, unionising, whatever; I’d like the right to a fair trial if I ever get accused of something, especially if I actually did it; and I’d certainly like to have at least a teensy bit of the right to decide how and when my identity gets disseminated.

So here, have The List To Kill All Other List Of Links, Part II, The Return. It’s a great job of concatenation on dozens of posts this week, including “official” Blizzard people and news outlets and pundits and random passers-by like me, and it probably took forever to do, so thank you RealEye-Dee! (See whut I did thar?)

I haven’t even touched on the fact that because some big cheese who can barely shave thinks handles, personae and multiple identities are dishonest*, that’s suddenly how the world is? Oh Facebook, how I loathe thee. I’m seriously considering doing whatever I can to delete my account there and never going back. It’ll do me absolutely zero good, but I detest its founder’s attitude. It’s all very well to be open and lovely when you have eleventy jillion bucks to spend on security and making sure nobody steals your identity. It’s not so bloody lovely when some frothloony you happened to flip off in Goldshire decides he should visit you in person with a pickaxe.

As for the — I’m sorry, there’s no other word for it — deluded idiots who think this whole RealID thing is A Great Step Forward, I’ll tell you this. The way it’s done right now, it’s only a great step forward for frothloonies with pickaxes. There are already a ton of ways around it, so the poor schmucks who naively put in their real names thinking accountability is good are just opening themselves up to being harrassed by ReallyRealID JohnSmith123020@fake-email.com.

Besides, do you really believe it’s about forum accountability? Bollocks. Well okay, maybe it will work, by driving everyone with any sense away from the forums. It might even slow down the trolls, though unless the FORUM MODERATORS actively do anything about trolls they don’t really have anything to fear even now. Except — oh noes! Their posts might get given the thumbs-down! Yeah. That’ll really crush them and teach them to behave better.


And no, I don’t delude myself that my information isn’t already out there to be found with a little digging. But as others have already pointed out, Googling my handle doesn’t find all that much. Google my handle and my real name and you suddenly get a lot more. Bit by bit you can build up the details.

I’m aware of that. I’m also aware of pretty much every time I let infobytes be disseminated about me, and I’m resigned to the fact that it’s going to happen. But most of the time I have a choice. I can choose not to sign up for whatever the service is. I can choose NOT to give people my name/number/email address.

So here’s my choice. As long as Activision have decided that they’re going to ActiBook all their games, I’m going to vote with my wallet and my feet. They won’t get my money and they won’t get my name. Most of all, because it’s absolutely not in the name of accountability, and I abhor that kind of “We’re doing it for you, honest, and us making several billion dollars out of it is totally incidental, I assure you!” hypocrisy. It’s about the money to be made out of social networks and jumping on the bandwagon when one has one of the largest potential customer pools in the world. I get it. I still hate it.

Edited — A Few Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Stylish Words — Penny Arcade are win, again.

*Thanks again to Lum Scott Jennings for that initial link. I had no idea Mr Z was so actively engaged in deciding for us how we should present ourselves to the rest of the world.

And thanks again to everyone who linked to me. Am flattered.

Fail of the Century

Nay, the millennium!

I could also have called this Big Blizzard Is Watching You, but that’s just cheesy and someone else probably used it already.

As everyone probably already knows, Blizzard thinks everyone should know who I am if I play their games. Not my persona, no. And not just my character names, but also damn near everything about them including bra size, who my friends are, what I had for breakfast, and best of all what my real name is.*

What. The. Fuck.

I’m not a paranoid hatstand type hiding out in the mountains waiting for the end of the world while I stockpile guns (well, I am in the mountains) but this whole WE MUST KNOW WHO YOU REALLY ARE ON THE INTARWEBZ!!!! really, really, really, REALLY fucking annoys me.

It’s a game. Or, it’s this blog. It’s something I do in my spare time that has NO relation to my professional or a large part of my personal life and I see no freaking reason why everything should be made public when it’s not my explicit there-and-then decision to share said info. (So my decision in this case is going to be: keep your fucking games thank you very much.)

It’s not that I object to people knowing who I am if *I* choose to share it with them. After all, I don’t get on the bus and tell every bloody passenger on it what my name is. They have no particular right to know it and I have zero obligation to tell them. So why the hell should every asshat — and god knows there are a lot of them — in a given game be able to find out exactly who I am, where I live, what my gender is and how much I enjoy being stalked?

As a woman this makes me even more furious, because the line between friendly banter and crazy-frothloony harassment is pretty thin on the internet these days. That said, I’m prepared to be equally indignant on behalf of all my male friends who are being (or have been) stalked. I’m an equal opportunity indignator.

They might as well ask for social security numbers — you know, just to make sure there’s no possibility Stan McStalker is getting the wrong person. Or your boss, from whom you’ve religiously hidden your passion for Blood Elf hunters. (There may or may not be honesty issues about not letting your boss know you’re a rabid gamer, though to my mind it’s your own bloody business. Maybe your boss just isn’t that chatty, or you’re not. Again, this is NOT something you should have to broadcast if it doesn’t impact your performance in non-gaming areas.)

So anyway, I’m frothing at the mouth. I should just have linked to Lum Scott Jennings, who as usual manages to be vitriolic without all the spittle.

EDITED to add a post by Sanya Weathers. The woman knows what she’s talking about. Shame nobody in the mundungous-salary range ever chooses to listen to experienced community people, eh?

Aaaaaand… another EDIT, just to show that no, it’s not difficult to stalk someone with just their name. Very very interesting post. As a woman this scares the crap out of me but to be honest it should scare the crap out of anyone. It only takes one frothloony, and this basically takes away any choice I had in letting frothloony have this info.


Edited to add a quote of the day from Spinks: “no company that fails so badly in understanding gamer culture can really claim to be one of us any more.”

Edited again — quoted by the above-referenced Lum Scott Jennings. I think I’m about to faint. (Sarah Bernhardt — no, not Sandra — histrionics aside, am very flattered. See how I bask in reflected glory!)


* Yeah yeah okay it’s not everyone. But you know — open door, slippery slope, all that happy crappy. It’s an invasion of my privacy and that’s all there is to it.