I remember when Battle.Net first launched. When you played WarCraft or WarCraft II the only way to play with friends was staying after school in the computer lab like a nerd, or knowing people with a decent internet connection. MSN Games had a service that kind of worked but was more akin to juggling with a chainsaw. Sometimes it was great, and other times… So when Battle.Net — Blizzard Entertainment’s dedicated online match making service for their games — first came out it was a boon. You could now be a super nerd and not worry about getting lynched in the hallways as payment for daring to love electronic entertainment. Be mindful that this was the 90s, it was not yet cool to play video games. The service was an instant success and was truly a stepping off point for what the future of online gaming would be. But slowly yet surely Battle.Net faded into obscurity as Blizzard released World of WarCraft and basically nothing else for 7 years. Then StarCraft II was announced along with changes to the beloved match making service;
They would be removing anonymity from Battle.Net and forcing you to link your account with Facebook thus people would know exactly who you were.
The tactic was new, but the problem they were attempting to solve wasn’t. Not for all games, but for a lot of them, the online environment had become filled with toxic people. And most of that toxicity was coming from 10 year-olds threatening to f*&$ my grandmother’s face until her teeth fell out.
No, I’m not making that up.
The philosophy being that if you were “you” online and not “iPh0k3dURm0m” then people would be less likely to spout off about sexually violating beloved family matriarchs.
The Blizzard community however collectively lost their s%&$ and the decision was overturned… But I wonder.
See here’s the thing about that phenomenon of online gaming douche-nuggets; I almost never ran into them anywhere except on XBox Live. Not to say XBox Live was a bad service, but I think it was a popular service. While people railed on and on about the console wars the reality is XBox 360 won where it counted. Everyone who owned an XBox had XBox Live Gold and they all played one game or another online with a dedicated furor. My Dad forgot that he could even go online on his PS3 until news of the PS3 hack broke out and just a whole shwack of people had their identities stolen.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Who cares about a thing from 8 years ago?” What got me thinking about it was a regular asshole I know on Facebook who constantly rails about identity politics and then posted a video positing “Should a conservative be allowed to date a leftist?” like we’re in the 50s and wondering what’s going on with that white girl hanging around that colored fella.
Blizzard and even myself thought for sure that stripping anonymity was the key. I wholeheartedly held to Penny-Arcade’s Internet F*ckwad Theory for many years. The idea that you can have an amazingly nice person, make them anonymous on the internet, and then have that nice person suddenly become a raging asshole… But here we are in 2018 and can you scroll through your news feed without something putrid, hateful, or ridiculous popping up every 4th or 5th item? I can’t. These are real people with their real names and pictures to go right along with them posting some of the most disgusting stuff! I got a girl on here who can’t seem to go a week without starting some online beef with another girl about who the hell knows what. That same guy who asked about Blacks and Whi- I mean Liberals and Conservatives posted the other day that the 16,000 kids who died because they didn’t receive healthcare was worth it to avoid universal healthcare. I got people supporting Nazis, I got people supporting that crazy activist who protests by beating the shit out of conservatives. I’m part of a Biker’s Facebook page and for the past 3 days not a single post has been about bikers; it’s been about how Liberals are pieces of Crap and vice versa.
I’m so scared of the world where everyone can see who you are and what you’re doing that I now retreat to the Whisper Confessions App. With a secret username you can post a picture with a few lines of text completely anonymously. And I’ve met some fun people on here too! Chatted with a lady from Boston who was worried that her eyes were too far apart. Chatted it up with a guy from Texas who feels that kids cartoons today are far too simplistic. And I’m chatting with someone right now who feels that Bananas in Pyjamas are amazing and that Meat Lover’s Pizza with an Alfredo sauce substitute is an amazing pizza. In the three weeks I’ve been on here I’ve seen 4 hateful posts out of… I dunno hundreds. That ratio of hate to interesting/funny/sweet/literally anything else is perfect… and nobody knows who is who.
So what are your thoughts? Do you think that anonymous people on Whisper are better mannered than those on Facebook? Do I just have shitty people on my Facebook feed? Favorite Pizza?
Why don’t you lemme know in the comments.
Have a good’er,