For reasons I cannot even begin to comprehend, Blizzard has decided that attaching players REAL FIRST AND LAST NAMES to all forum postings (going forward, not retroactively) via RealID is a good idea.

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. The classic Battle.net forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting. (link to full post & thread here)

Now, I’ve been significantly less doom-n-gloom about this whole RealID thing than most people, despite the fact that I have a VERY unusual first & last name combination.  But this. This blows my mind.

More so after finding out about this “handy” site on the internet: http://www.veromi.com/

Go ahead. Type in your first & last name. See how many records show up, and how little additional information would be needed to track you down. For me? All you’d need is my first & last name, and for $40, you could find out where I live, my phone number, my credit history and god only knows what else.

Traditionally, I have not been someone who has worked very hard to maintain my privacy on the internet. There are a lot of things on the internet linked to my real name. I’m not hard to track down, if you know a little bit about me. But the idea of that random rogue that I just barely managed to kill in world PvP after he jumped ME being able to track me down through the official WoW-forums? Is completely and utterly terrifying.

I pride myself on being a fairly decent judge of character. I’ve traded emails, phone numbers, and Facebook pages with people I have met in WoW. But the idea of my in-game avatar being linked to my real, full name for any person I happen to stumble across in game to find … I am not okay with this. I am so so very not okay with this.

I had already made the decision not use Real ID in game, not for my own privacy, but for the potential privacy of people I care about who were concerned about others seeing their real name through the “friends of friends” feature.  But I feel like this path that Blizzard is going down is a very slippery slope indeed, and I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to play this game if this trend of making personal information completely accessible to their very large playerbase continues.

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