The Week in Review: Let's See Your ID

Blizzard may have shrugged off coordinated community discontent in the past, but this week, we weren't talking about LAN support in Starcraft II. It was, instead, the MMO maker's decision to put everyone's real name on their forum messages.

Announced Tuesday, Blizzard's new policy would have displayed the real name of account holders posting to the Starcraft forums and, soon, World of Warcraft would follow suit. An instant, constant, and overwhelming backlash forced Blizzard to capitulate by week's end. Swamped by waves of complaints about privacy and exposure, thousands made clear their vow to cancel their accounts rather than participate under these terms. And unlike disappointment in a game's features, or lack thereof, it was a threat with teeth.


Perhaps something must be done about the inevitable degradation and damage done by a community populated by those whose anonymity makes them impossible to be held accountable. But here Blizzard plainly picked the wrong fight. PC gamers, not to stereotype, but culturally speaking they don't usually sign whatever comes under the door without reading it. And hardcore video gamers by nature have flags up for any unilateral action by a publisher. So if the Internet is going to be made safe for polite people, maybe it should start somewhere other than video games. Yahoo! Sports' comments are unbearably ignorant. YouTube's should just be deactivated by default.

In this short-lived blowup, we may not have learned anything about what is a right, what is a privilege or what is a responsibility - such topics are almost beyond consensus and wouldn't be solved in four days anyway. What we did learn is that gaming communities do not have an impotent voice. And whether you agree, disagree or can't be bothered with what's going on, this week one told a publisher this subject was an absolute nonstarter, period. And got its way.

The week in Kotaku's original reporting:

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