Posts Tagged ‘real id’

Blizzard Announces Real-ID Privacy Changes

Blizzard came out with some new changes to the way your privacy will be handled in the Real-ID system today, most notably the ability to opt-out of the “Friends of Friends” feature that everyone found so controversial from the get-go. This means that friends of people you’ve listed as friends on Battle.net won’t be able to automatically see you and add you as friends anymore.

Also in the announcement? That long-predicted integration with Facebook that people have grumbled about and snarked about for a while – but it’s not like game data goes to Facebook, you just have the opportunity to import your Facebook friends into Battle.net if they’ve provided their information. Here’s the whole announcement Nethaera posted to the official forums:

We’d like to make you aware of the new Real ID-related privacy options we’ve introduced to Battle.net. These options provide Real ID users with additional tools for customizing the service based on their preferences, enabling the ability to opt in or out of the Real ID “Friends of Friends” and “Add Facebook Friends” features or to turn off Real ID altogether.

Real ID offers an optional, convenient way for keeping in touch with real-world friends you know and trust, whether they’re playing World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, or one of our future games. The “Friends of Friends” and “Add Facebook Friends” features provide you with even more options to stay connected while you play by making it easier for real-life friends to locate each other on Battle.net. You can easily enable or disable these features through your Battle.net privacy settings by logging in to your Battle.net account at http://www.battle.net/.

That will likely quell some of the complaints about Real ID intruding so much on your privacy and security…and then open up others with that Facebook integration.

Discussion :: How’s That 3.3.5 Working Out for You?

So! A little tradition we’d slipped away from for a bit (but mostly because there haven’t been many major content patches since) but want to keep going strong are our “How’s that working out for you” posts when new content patches are released.

Now that 3.3.5 is out and about, Real ID has been added to the game (although it’s not making its way to the forums) and you can communicate with your friends across-realm (even though their friends can see you too,) and now that the Ruby Sanctum is open, how’s the content working out for you?

Have you downed Halion yet? Are you planning to, or is the Ruby Sanctum just not enough to bring you out of your post-Lich King-kill hiatus? Or maybe it’s Real ID that’s keeping you away from the game? Let us know in the comments!

Blizzard Reverses Course, Real Names to Not Be Required on Official Forums

Blizzard made an announcement this morning I thought they wouldn’t make. Here’s the meat from Nethera’s post on the official forums about it, where she’s reposting a message from Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime:

Hello everyone,

I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. 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.

It’s important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as the ability to rate posts up or down, post highlighting based on rating, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.

I want to make sure it’s clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you’ll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard’s success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment

I didn’t think Blizzard was going to retract the policy this way, but clearly the demand got to them and they decided that this was a bad idea.

So, now let’s see if the people who threatened to or went ahead and canceled their subscriptions return to the game, or if the spectre of Real ID in other forms and implementations is enough to keep people away from the game for privacy concerns. What do you think about the reversal? Sound off in the comments!

More on Real ID: Who’s Behind This? What Should I do?

In the past few days, the controversy over Real ID and the changes to the forums that require real names to be displayed next to posts has all but dominated the WoW-community and then some. Major news outlets have covered the changes, Blizzard has come under fire from players and non-players alike, and while most of it has to do with both the fact that the changes to the forums (especially the customer support and technical support forums, where users come for help) are unwanted, some of it has rightfully become a larger discussion about Real ID and what Blizzard’s intentions were when they announced it.

Some people have gone so far as to assert that Blizzard isn’t behind this at all. From the World of Warcraft Livejournal Community comes this story about how at least one person on the inside has said that Blizzard employees are as angry about the change as players are, and that this is a directive coming down from Blizzard’s Activision overlords:

“Got in touch with my ex-flatmate, whose sister works as a GM for Blizzard, to see what the internal buzz on this was. Apparently, at the moment the employees are largely as pissed as the players, and she stated that despite attempts to keep it hushed, it has become known that the big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are. Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.

It’s still going ahead, however (and here’s where in-house rumours and hearsay really start coming into play): from what they’ve picked up, the Blizzard leads have been told in no uncertain terms that the non-gameplay-related direction of the game is working to a different blueprint now. GC and company are free to play with shiny new talent trees all they like, for example, but for the first time the decisions regarding Battle.net implementation, Real ID, and plans for the general acquisition of new players for the business are no longer in Blizzard’s own hands, and that’s not going down too well.”

I would buy this, actually – although Blizzard has made some pretty unpopular moves in the past, this is by far the worst, and Blizzard would have to know it. It’s also likely that this is why they took so much heat when the rumor (not confirmed to not be true) arose that their employees may have been exempt from the new forum rules. It’s possible that the idea was floated that Blizzard employees would be exempt, and then due to the already simmering backlash, it was retracted quickly.

A number of people have taken to the torches and pitchforks, and a few other people have already cancelled their accounts due to the change. While I tend to have a more metered approach to things (and I don’t actually plan on canceling my account,) I applaud the dedication to conviction that those people are showing.

The problem I see here though is that Blizzard and Activision both know how to ignore the forums by now – they probably assumed they got all of the value they could get from the complaints on the forums in the first 24 hours, and now people are just piling on – they may be discounting a great deal of player anger due to the echo chamber of the web. From the cancellation perspective, we have to keep in mind that over 12-million people play World of Warcraft worldwide, and if even 120,000 people quit over the Real ID fiasco, that would only amount to ONE PERCENT of the global player base.

So, you’re likely thinking, am I defending them or throwing my hands up because it’s all hopeless anyway? Not at all. I say vote with your voices, vote with your feet, and vote with the tools that Blizzard has given us. Over at Wow.com, there’s an excellent post about how to opt-out of Real ID that I think everyone should at least read, if not follow directly if you plan to continue playing.

I would suggest players that simply can’t play the game anymore because they can’t stand this kind of Facebook-style data exposure should, without hesitation, cancel their accounts. And not just through the Web form, although that’s the easiest way to do it – I think they should call Blizzard’s customer support line and let them know directly that the reason you’re cancelling your account is because of the forum changes and the intrusive policy changes made with regard to Real ID.

In fact, even if you decide you want to continue playing, I think you should lodge your complaint with Blizzard about the changes and about the policies, and let them know that while you will still play the game, your support for them has diminished significantly (as mine has.)

A number of posters at the Livejournal Community have taken it a step farther, which I can’t really oppose: Hit Activision/Blizzard where it hurts: in their shareholder’s wallets. Sell their shares, whatever little you may hold, and make your complaints about their policies public.

Many people are comparing Real ID and these changes to Facebook’s infamous policies and dodging questions around the integrity of personal data that users trust with the service, deriding Facebook and Zynga (makers of Farmville, Fishville, and all of those other games I can’t really stand) for similar practices. As much as we may hate all of those entities, the fact of the matter is that Facebook and Zynga’s partnership is a multi-million dollar deal in a multi-billion dollar “social gaming” industry, and Activision/Blizzard is bound to want to get in on that kind of action. Similarly, for all of the fuss over Facebook’s privacy policies and “Quit Facebook Day” and the massive Internet echo chamber around all of it, a ridiculously minute number of people actually left Facebook for it, the Diaspora Project is still nowhere near off the ground, and the furor has all but blown over. Activision/Blizzard is hoping, as will likely happen, that this will all blow over in a few weeks.

Finally, whatever you choose to do with your wallets or your accounts, vote with your voice and make it clear that you’re concerned deeply about the changes on whatever forums you choose, in whatever manner you choose. Again, I wave people off of the Official Forums because Blizzard is used to ignoring them by now, but the fact that the blog community and the gaming community are in the middle of a firestorm about this and even the mainstream media has picked up the story (albeit their take on it is largely “accountability first, Blizzard is cleaning up their forums, and oh yeah some people are mad about it) mean that there’s traction to the story, whatever your take on it is.

All of those things are small things that individuals can do, but collectively Activision/Blizzard will (if they’re not already) pay attention to the concern of their customers. I’m optimistic that the concerns of the community and the players will actually be heard, but I’m also a stark realist when it comes to technology and privacy. Away from the game, I work at a company whose business is information, and on the side I’m a technology writer. I know how these things play out, and the power of the echo chamber for the minority doesn’t always overcome the apathy of the masses.

Even so, that shouldn’t stop any of us from doing what we think is right, and at the very least what we think is best for our personal privacy and our personal data that we’d like to keep private.

What do you think? Will you be cancelling your account over the changes? Have you already done so? On the other hand, do you think this is all overblown and the “what-if” of the changes have been overstated? Perhaps you’re just planning on opting out of Real ID and moving on?

Some people have said that the breaking point for them is when/if Real ID makes its way to the Armory and characters will be rolled up under people’s real names – what would you do then? Let us know in the comments!

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.

WoW.com :: Rumor: Blizzard Employee’s Real Life Names Will Not Appear on the Real ID Forums

Wow.com has reported this afternoon a number of disturbing pieces of information that have come to light around the whole Real ID means real names on the official forums controversy.

While I don’t think that anyone can debate that Blizzard employees can’t have their real lives disturbed or intruded upon by in-game issues (the last thing a community moderator or GM needs is to be followed to their home or be contacted personally because they locked a thread or didn’t provide an answer sufficient to someone who takes the game entirely too seriously) the rumor that Blizzard employees will be exempt from the changes implies that Blizzard definitely understands the severity of what they’re doing, but simply haven’t decided to extend that concern to their customers as well as their employees. Here’s what WoW.com had to say about it:

So here’s what we know:

  • Bashiok / Drysc posted his real life name yesterday, and had his privacy violated by people posting maps to his house, his parents’ names, and (potentially incorrect) cell phone numbers.
  • We have seen multiple reports of WoW players who have called up Blizzard’s support line and spoken with representatives who’ve told them blues will no longer be using their real names in the new forums.
  • Josh, a Blizzard phone rep said that Blizzard employees “cannot risk having their personal lives compromised by in-game issues.”
  • Blizzard blue representative Rygarius locked, but did not delete nor deny, a thread on this.
  • WoW.com has emailed PR contacts within Blizzard for comment, and have not heard anything back.

As with the previous post, I’m of two minds of this – first, it’s unfortunate that it’s clear to Blizzard the gravity of this change. They know it, but they’re moving forward with their player-base anyway. It’s also likely that Blizzard employees will be exempt from other Real ID concerns, like the friends-of-friends feature. On the other hand, I completely empathize with Blizzard employees, who are more likely to be targeted because of who they are and who they work for.

So while I’m not saying this should go forward and Blizzard employees should be left out and the rest of us forced to comply, I am saying that Blizzard should (and they likely will if the uproar continues) come up with a middle ground where people’s privacy can be protected to at least some degree, instead of taking an all or nothing approach.

We’ll wait and see what WoW.com turns up in the way of confirm/deny of the rumor, but in the meantime, the controversy is still simmering (especially in this massive thread), and more and more stories like this one are appearing, where people are able to use such limited information like a player’s real name, whatever associated information there is about them, and the powers of Google to dig up a lot of personal detail about them.

UPDATE: According to Blizzard, they’re sticking to their guns and their employees’ real names WILL be used on the forums. From the original WoW.com post:

According to Nethaera, they’re going to stick with their original plan and have blue posters use their real names. As to why other parts of Blizzard are saying something different (WoW.com has verified what other parts of Blizzard has said), it appears they’re having some internal communication issues.

Real ID and Real Concerns

Note: I started to write this article with an entirely different spin on Real ID and what I think about it, but new information has changed things a bit. Read on to find out what I discovered.

My Friends List

Friend List

One of the features of the recent 3.3.5 patch that I was most looking forward to happened to be the Real ID chat ability. Maybe I was mistaken, but it seems that there is a lot of concern regarding the privacy issues that come along with a feature like Real ID.

Real ID is meant to be a way to chat with players across different realms, across faction, as well as across different games using the Battle.net system. This is especially important when Starcraft II is released late July and many WoW players will be spreading their time between the two games. I can’t speak for all WoW players, but I know that my boyfriend and I will probably be spending a hefty portion of our free time trying the new Blizzard game.

The concept of Real ID is awesome. It’s something many other types of systems implement in different ways. Steam uses a universal chat system when you’re logged in. The difference with Steam is that you can choose to stay anonymous with regard to what people see. Real ID seems to be lacking in the privacy settings being available to the user to choose.

According to Blizzard’s Real ID FAQ, “Both players must first mutually agree to become Real ID friends.” Basically don’t go willy-nilly giving our your account email address and adding strangers as friends. As a tool, this can be really awesome. It’ll let you keep in touch with people with whom you regularly chat with even if they’re not logged into your game at the moment. If you need help doing something and see a friend online, a simple asking couldn’t hurt. This can easily be abused in wanting to have at your disposal a large group of people available to play games with. The child I’m taking care of has friended everyone and anyone he can on his XBox Live account. This works on XBox Live, where you don’t see any information that you don’t want to share. This definitely is not the case with Real ID.

The “Real ID is a system designed to be used with people you know and trust in real life — friends, co-workers and family”.

I would suggest you heed that bit of advice, because this next bit threw me for a whirlwind! Originally, I was thinking this system was great! A nice way to keep in touch with my Horde friends while I’m playing Alliance. Or with my boyfriend who juggles his time between his 7 (yes, that’s seven) level 80s. But oh ho ho, Miss Medicina let her readers in on a secret (or not so secret since it’s right there in the FAQ) that was not highly publicized about Real ID.

If you are using Real ID, your mutual Real ID friends, as well as their Real ID friends, will be able to see your first and last name (the name registered to the Battle.net account). You will also be able to see the first and last name of your Real ID friends and their Real ID friends.

Take a minute and reread that. Say this with me now. “Um, wut?!” Now let’s think about this for just a minute. You and I Real ID friend each other. But I also have my boyfriend, a Los Angeles friend, and a local real life friend Real ID-friended. You don’t know these other people. You probably don’t give a crap about these people. But you can see that they’re my friends. Not only that, but you see their real names. Not the online persona that many of us have grown to be associated with. I will always respond to Mailynn (in it’s various different spellings). But now your friends, who are strangers to me, can see my real name. And in turn, google it. Fine. I’m safe. Most of you can google my name now, but you’ll find a whole lot of articles about some older gentleman who’s the CEO of some company in the mid-west and is not even remotely related to me. I’m safe. I’m going to assume that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have an internet twin that gets more attention than you… and is of the opposite gender.

So I Real ID friended someone I know on Horde side. I know personal information about him. I know his girlfriend’s name. I know how many children he has. I know where about he lives. I know who is best friend is. The point is, I consider him a friend, despite only having known him in game. I’m okay with having him friended via Real ID and getting the chance to chat with him whenever I want to. I am not okay with the fact that my boyfriend’s name, my Los Angeles friend’s name and my in town friend’s name will be viewable by my Horde friend. This is overstepping some major boundaries.

At first I thought this was great. I’m going to get those people I love to chat with all the time and friend them! It’s okay, we’re friends!! I didn’t realize that Blizzard opened the door to cyber-stalking to the Nth degree. What changed my mind? I asked my friend Kurn via Facebook to be Real ID friends. She is the reason why I play WoW. I miss our days from Eldre’Thalas. I miss having her as a friend I chatted with regularly. She took her toon to other servers and that’s okay, so did I. Real ID should have been the perfect opportunity for us to keep in touch again.

She very politely told me “No” and the reasons why. She brought to my attention the dangers of Real ID, and not just the overblown perceived dangers. Sharing real life information across the game to people who are not friended is not okay. Do you hear me Blizzard?!??! Make this a feature that can be either a) turned off or b) removed entirely. I am truly missing out on the ability to chat with someone I adore and love because she has privacy concerns. Hell, I now have privacy concerns and may consider removing everyone but the boyfriend just to keep the information sharing to a minimum.

What’s your take on all of this? Are you going to simply ignore all Real ID requests? Do you think I’m making too much out of this? I’m curious to know.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.