It seems the next step for Blizzard is to use your real name in the forums. The time line for this is with Starcraft 2’s release for Starcraft forums and around Cataclysm time for WoW forums. They won’t go back and post your real name on existing posts, but at that point on, it will be used when posting.
Battle.net Update: Upcoming Changes to the Forums
Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature -www.battle.net/realid/ , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Battle.net. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.
For more details read more in this thread- http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=25626109041&sid=3000
And that was followed up with Bashiok saying:
One important point which I don’t believe has been relayed yet is that the switch to showing RealID on the forums will only happen with the new forum systems we’re launching for StarCraft II shortly before its release, and a new forum system for World of Warcraft launching shortly before the release of Cataclysm.
All posts here on the current World of Warcraft forums, or any of our classic Battle.net forums, will remain as-is. They won’t (and can’t) automatically switch to showing a real first and last name.
All posts in the future on the new forum systems will be an opt-in choice and ample warning will be given that you’re posting with your real first and last name.
As a part time troll (in truth, I haven’t trolled public forums since early EQ2), I can see this being the death of blatant trolling with level 1 alt characters from other servers. Which is a good thing.
As a person who likes the anonymity of online games for a bunch of reasons, I don’t know that I’d like 11 million other WoW gamers to know my real name. There is something about being able to pull up roots, fade away for a bit with few strings attached.
Maybe that’s a big part of the reason they’re bringing this to the fore?
I wonder what that means for celebrities that play? Oh yes, that is really William Shattner that ganked your quest hand in NPCs! Hey look, it’s Mr. T giving away free enchants and roses for Valentines day!
I don’t like this. This might be even more of a reason for me to not bother posting in the WoW forums even if they are cleaned up… despite the fact I’d likely be one of thousands of people with my name.
/tell John Smith 10000000000000
It does sort of have a ring to it… but I feel for “John Smith 3903288060032”.
Either way, this is a bit of a turn off for me, now everyone will know my real name is Chuck Norris*.
UPDATE: I just wanted to share a couple of posts from various bloggers and sites about this:
WoWRiot – Hello Bashiok! (WoW Moderator that bravely posted his real name and promptly has had people find his home address, phone number and also noted that he’s got the same address as his mom…)
Stylish Corpse – Ysh isn’t happy. (And I can’t blame her)
CommonSenseGamer – Thinks it is a great idea.
Keen And Graev’s Gamming Blog – Keen thought it was okay (until he called people out on the comments by posting his real name and several folks displayed his address)
I think this is something of importance, at least it helps mitigate who you are in game… which is something… from Bashiok:
Nor will I be.
You won’t have to be tied to a character name while posting. You’ll have the choice of displaying one if you want, but it’s off by default.
So long as you don’t post your character name or opt in for that, you will still have some form of detachment to what you do in the game, but not on the forum.
Either way, I think this is going to discourage me from posting on the public WoW forums even more so; whether I’m trying to recruit for a guild, offer help, organize some community thing or point out that someone is being an idiot.
* Not true, Chuck Norris wishes he was me.