As some of you may personally remember, back in the summer of 2010 Blizzard tried to switch their World of Warcraft forums over to a “Real ID” system, where accounts would get tied to real, actual names that we players would use as our sole identifier. There was a huge backlash that eventually derailed the plan, but as I recall a fair percentage of the media coverage didn’t see the problem with crossing the streams between players’ real life and their orc.
Take, as an example, this quotation from a pretty dumbass article in TechCrunch about the whole thing:
Do you really think [the internet] is going to get away with harassing people who post on the new forums, a common complaint I’ve seen? “Now people will annoy me in real life!” That sounds like a one-way ticket to a lawsuit, courtesy of Activision Blizzard. Just because your name is “out there” doesn’t mean people are allowed to threaten you. Surely you recognize this?
Let’s fast forward just over two years, shall we?
“In Colleen’s online fantasy world, she gets away with crude, vicious and violent comments like the ones below. Maine needs a State Senator that lives in the real world, not in Colleen’s fantasy world.”
Oh yeah, dumbass article writers, no one would ever get harassed in real life because their real name was associated with a WoW character. I bet the Blizzard Activision law team is just raring to go on this one, too.
Of course Ms. Lachowicz chose to not remain a completely anonymous player (not that that means she deserves this nonsense), but isn’t it fortunate that the rest of us weren’t forced to make the same choice? Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and occasionally extremely satisfying.