Blizzard, the company behind World of Warcraft and the Starcraft games, has decided that anyone posting to its major Battle.net gaming forums must do so using their real name.
In a statement, a company spokesman said, "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. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged."
Battle.net users are up in arms complaining about privacy issues and bemoaning the fact that they play games to escape real life, but Blizzard insists that the move was all about making the forums nicer places to visit.
In our experience, forums where participants are identified by their real names tend to attract less of the unpleasantries found on those which allow posters to hide behind frequently-changed aliases, and Blizzard seems to be of the same opinion.
"The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players," a Blizzard spokesman said. "However, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well."