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Reloading.. Anonymity

Posted Thu, Aug 25, 2011 by Ethec

Welcome back to Reloading...  61st edition! 

Good on you for reading this today! One +Karma point just dropped into your bucket! 

I’m John Hoskin and I’ll be your MMOG tour guide today.  Enjoy the ride!

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about sicence and technology.” – Carl Sagan
Everyone can use a feel good moment to start the day.   Let’s go with this…



Thanks for taking some time out of your day to read this column.  I appreciate it.    If you happen to use Twitter, you can follow me @BoomjackTTH.   I rarely use Facebook, but I do occasionally  post gaming related tidbits on Google+, where amazingly people use real names.
 
Real names, what a concept; how would our gaming lives be different if we played with Bill Smith and Mary Goodman, rather than XXikillnubsXX and Fhuhqtoo   One of the most memorable comics for me first hit the public eye in 1993.  

 
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” – Peter Steiner
 
First shown in The New Yorker, this comic blew through the gaming company where I worked because it was poignant both from an Internet privacy point of view, but also from an Internet sociological angle.   It touches upon how as human beings our behaviour changes when we are anonymous, as in truly anonymous and beyond any repercussions for our actions.   

I can’t reach through my computer screen and screw Fuhqtwo’s head on straight when he refuses to enter an instance and can’t be booted from the group.   His behaviour is purely malicious with an intent only to ruin the game experience for everyone else involved.  He’s the same guy (and I’ll take a quantum leap assuming such) that:
  • Enters as a tank, but has DPS gear and is in a DPS spec
  • Pulls and then exits the instance leaving everyone else to die. 
  • Needs on everything that he can need on.
  • Goes AFK between every trash pull.
  • And so on.
Would FuhQtwo do this if his real name was being broadcast on the screen?  He might; there are certainly individuals out there who act like this without the wall of anonymity, but most of the trolls would behave in a more socially acceptable manner.   At least, I’d like to believe that. 
 
But I don’t believe it .   If we used real names and by some miracle the names were truly the real name of the individual it would just be another way for miscreants to beat their chests and annoy others without any repercussion.    It’s a lot like this Oatmeal Comic.    If the “kids” in that comic had real names attached it wouldn’t change a thing.  In fact, it might make it worse!
 
Blizzard’s RealID was a step in some direction, I’m not sure if it was good or bad.  The uproar over privacy was immense, roiled by the same group that posts pictures of themselves drunk on the bathroom floor on Facebook where their 8,723 close friends can see it.    My real name is all over the Internet and I have yet to have anyone call me at home or knock on my door.   I have had some weird experiences at gaming events where readers of my old column tracked me down in Las Vegas and camped my spawn for three days.   It was harmless, good intentioned and provides a good story now and then.  No harm.  No foul. 
 
What are your thoughts on the issue?
 
As always, you can contact me a number of ways:
  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Website
  • Telepathy (Just make sure it’s during business hours.  I hate to be woken by this stuff)
Until we meet again,
John “Boomjack” Hoskin
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