Some thoughts on RealID
There is no doubt in my mind that StarCraft 2(SC2) will become a big e-sport all over the world. There is also no doubt in my mind that I will live to see video games broadcasted on TV. Already many SC2 players choose to reveal their names: Lee Jae Dong, Dustin Browder, and heck, I even know where Sean Plott (aka Day9) lives! Aren’t they incredibly successful people? Notice also that they are not getting harassed or discriminated. What makes you more important or more likely to be harassed than them? Is it your behavior in-game or in the forums, and if so, why wouldn’t you want this behavior to go away?
The fact is that social norms don’t seem to apply on the Internet. It seems that everyone is just content with the fact that gaming has cursing, name-calling, and trolling. That’s just the way it is, but shouldn’t we change this?
You could argue that there are other ways to handle these types of harassment. Blizzard employs censoring, which I personally think it’s annoying and does nothing to prevent cursing. Even if you assume that someday there will be a technology that prevents people from insulting each other, why would you want that? Wouldn’t you say it’s better to build a community where insults are allowed but frowned upon? You know, LIKE IN REAL LIFE? Well, this can’t happen if everyone is hidden behind an anonymous alias.
In almost every game I’ve played there has been extreme harassment against homosexuals and women. This behavior is just taken as normal, and the offender, if caught, will usually get banned. But don’t you see that banning an individual does nothing to build a gaming community? It only breaks it apart.
RealID is a first step towards improving the gaming atmosphere. In any other sport you have to be well-mannered and disclose your name, why not e-sports? Why would you feel entitled to complete privacy on the Internet? How would privacy help build e-sports? Do you want SC2 to become a mainstream e-sport or not? Think about it.
Perhaps it may be a little difficult for you to think of gaming as a mainstream activity, especially if you grew up in an American High School system where many students get socially ostracized if they played too many videogames. But you have to understand that many of us are comfortable with gaming and associate a positive connotation to it. We are not basement dwelling nerds or pornography consumers. We are not building bombs or plotting to kill people. We are simply gaming. That’s it. We have no need to hide behind an anonymous alias when we are doing nothing wrong. Sure, some people may discriminate against you if they know your video game habits, but this would be illegal. To quote someone from the Blizzard SC2 Beta forums (I forgot the name): “Some people watch movies, others go hiking, you play video games. What’s the difference? What would be the difference if [your employer] Googles your name and sees that you love checkers and take part in tournaments all over your city as a hobby?” Stop being so self-conscious!
And of course, there is the physical harm threat that some of you perceive as real. I seriously doubt that someone will get hurt thanks to RealID, and even if they do, it would probably be a coincidence and you will be more likely to get hit by lightning. Just like in real life, common sense and courtesy is all that is needed to avoid being hurt. Are you opposed to common sense and courtesy? NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU. You give your name away all the time to random people who could be psychopaths. They are probably more likely to hurt you than online gamers.
Will RealID completely stop trolling? Of course not, but it will make people finally act like human beings.
Finally, some people argue that the 1 account per cd-key limit would be just as effective as RealID. Setting aside the fact that cd-keys can be generated by keygens and the amount of moderator work this entails, banning people when they misbehave is not building a community, it is destroying it. With RealID, you would have social etiquette being obeyed at all times because you know that the things you say can be traced back to you for many years. RealID will make people play by the rules again when they realize their children will be able to see their posts.
At the end of the day, you may be thinking, “I’m really embarrassed that the whole world knows I’m really into some dumb videogame because I’m going to remember this forever. It will be saved in some server and my grandkids will know about it.” But then you get to thinking that, “Wow, is it possible that maybe because all my stuff is being saved and measured and judged that maybe I should change my behavior a little bit and be a little better than I would’ve been?” It could be that RealID is just some dumb cross-commercialization plot, but it’s also possible that it’ll inspire us to be better gamers if the system is designed right.