More Real ID: A Female Perspective

Originally I wasn’t going to post this here. I was going to post on my personal blog because the blog entry was inevitably going to turn into a diatribe about misogyny, racism, and homophobia. The fury raging in my veins right now started back on the 2nd, when WoW.com posted a Drama Mamas article on racism and general hate speech. Sure I was enraged. I also happily tucked my tail between my legs and went back to not letting anyone know in game that I do, in fact, have girl parts in real life.

Then I wrote about the true and real concerns about Real ID and cautioned readers as well as players to be careful with whom they friend using the Real ID system. Then the lovely Alan writes an informative entry about what is to happen to the Blizzard forums. Then WoW. com opened up the discussion to their readers to find out what the general consensus might be. Insert rumors. Insert the information of employees being handed out all over the internet.

Alan brought up some very valid and very important points to consider. Not everyone who plays WoW does so with no real life concerns over their identity. Many players have had their identities stolen. Many players have had their accounts hacked. Some players are in witness protection programs. Others have been stalked by pissed off guild members. Others still have violent ex’s or family members they’d like to not know about. Some have jobs that are dependent on the current form of anonymity available through the WoW forums. Some have been raped. Others have been abused. The list goes on and on.

The raging feminist in me is downright pissed. Teetering on the verge of tears every time I think about someone I know getting stalked by some creeper from WoW, or anywhere for that matter. Affixing your full name to forum posts opens the door up for search engines (not just google mind you) to find bits of information about you. Is it important that you protect what you do for from from your employers or clients? Because the negative perception surrounding games like World of Warcraft are still prevalent in society, even today, after all of these years? Looking for a better job and want to make sure that you’re marketable? Well, avoid the WoW forums. In a few short months, everything you post, any Blizzard game you play, will be linked to your name. A simple google search might yield results  and cost you that promotion.

Let’s face it, not everyone who plays WoW works in the technology industry where all of your coworkers play video games, own an Xbox and remember playing on the 8-bit Nintendo system when they were 8 years old. Some of us have appearances to keep.

Without delving too much into the sociology of gender roles and the psychology of the negativity surrounding what it is to be female, the simple perceived truth is this: Women cannot play men’s games as well as their male counterparts. Nevermind that my boyfriend plays WoW because of me. Or that I progressed further than he did in Everquest before  he did. Or that he joined my raiding guild long after I quit the game. Oh no. The belief is that I am a terrible player, I will get my guild and party members killed, and it is all to blame on my lack of ability to play a game because I obviously lack the same motor skills that men possess at birth because I am, in fact, female. I am also, by sheer fact of being female, deserving of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and threats of death and bodily harm if I differ in opinion.

I, personally, don’t find myself on the forums much, but that’s just because it’s nearly impossible for me to find anything I’d like to read there. I’m not looking for a guild, or a raid, or advertising my tradeskills. I don’t have technical problems that a GM has told me to go to the forums to ask my question on. I have posted. I will definitely hesitate to post from now on. We give Blizzard, all of us who play, our names and contact information for account purposes. We give this freely because it has always been kept private and used only for account purposes. Now you’re taking away my ability to keep my information private from the entire world. Even though it was explained that using Real ID in game was a choice. If you didn’t use it no one saw your real name. It was simple. Now you’re not only taking away that choice, but force feeding it to us.

At 1360 pages (as of when I last loaded it) and growing, the amount of outrage cannot go unnoticed. There has to be some sort of compromise. Some middle ground that can be better than the all-or-nothing mentality that Blizzard has recently adopted. While I won’t stop playing the game (at least not yet), this is a huge deterrent to continue. I won’t ask friends to come join me. I won’t try to lure people into the joys of WoW that I have been able to enjoy.

I’m ashamed to be a part of this giant step backwards. Enabling the stalkers and the violent to capitalize on the apparent lack of judgement on the higher ups over at Blizzard. This is a Pandora’s box I wouldn’t want to open. If all of the claims to cancelling accounts are true, the real numbers are likely higher. In college it was always explained that public arenas for voicing opinions are only a small fraction of the population. If this small fraction of the WoW population is outraged and upset, imagine how many behind the scenes are cancelling their accounts and simply not saying anything.

Edit: Mind you this isn’t about your gender (or mine for that matter).  This is about privacy and how a system such as this affects each individual person. What I needed to do was write it all, save as a draft, come back and edit it prior to publishing so that all of my ducks were in the correct row. Instead you get my over-impassioned, all-over-the-place, bouncing from the problems with cyber-stalking leading to real-life stalking and overall privacy concerns. The reality of the situation and what it all boils down to is that while many of us want to believe that women are treated equally to men, this is simply not the case. Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than men. This is not my opinion, it is pure fact. Real ID opens the doors for all 11 million people within the userbase of World of Warcraft to be found with a simple google search. 11 million people is a helluva lot of people. That is a lot of potential rapes, sexual assaults, stalkings and death. It isn’t funny anymore Blizzard.

It’s ridiculous.

Edit 2: Someone made a challenge. The challenge was met. It’s pretty terrifying how easy it is.

1 Comment so far

  1. RealID (pt2); Ethics; Voting With Your Dollar. « What You Did There; I See It. (pingback) on July 8th, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

    […] hundred pages of the initial forum thread, I’ve read fantastic posts (some good ones here, here, and a great list here) and some good debates, but in the end, it comes down to one thing – […]



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