Will the New Consoles Usher in the Use of Real Names for Online Games?

Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM PDT by
Xbox One

Xbox One Real Names feature Won't Be Ready at Launch, PS4 feature status unclear.

Both Microsoft and Sony have been talking about the use of real names for players on their new respective systems (as an option), but today it seems, that feature was confirmed as one that will miss the launch of the Xbox One. Though the feature may still be ready for the PS4's launch, the question remains, will real names become a mainstay of online gaming?

Online gaming handles have long been created with the idea of an online pseudonym in mind, a practice mimicked in chat rooms, message boards, and email accounts throughout the 1990's. These days though, professional email accounts, social networks, and various kinds of celebrities have made using real names a normal part of internet interaction. One reason behind the "real name" initiative has been to encourage signed communication, as in assigning the author's name to each comment, statement, etc.

Meanwhile, online gaming remains a playground for poorly constructed, biased, nonsensical, and unsophisticated communication. Reputation systems have tried to curb the worst offenders, but in general, players still expect to hear people speak in ways unlike face-to-face contact. Similarly, ESPN's website spent years overflowing with comments that seemed devoid of rational thought and recently converted to facebook system in order to attempt to promote some kind of civility.

Still, many non offensive gamers used to dealing with vile comments are not excited by the real name system, preferring instead for their shared identities to stop at their gamertags. With both the perpetrators and victims of poor online conduct unenthused about using real names for online gaming, it is likely that the new systems will see a mix heavy with carried over online names.

Microsoft's delay of the real name feature means that many Day One Xbox One owners will not be offered the choice to use real names out of the box, but eventually, once famous developers, game streamers, etc. begin using their real names, many will be tempted to follow, while others will hold out indefinitely. At the same time, any incident of violence, crime, or abuse associated with using real names in online gaming has the possibility of discouraging a transition and even creating a backlash.

Imagine if the Steam Machine Beta included mandatory use of real names. Such an unlikely move could signal a massive shift from slick steam names to real names. For now though, it seems that Valve has not yet caught the real name bug.

So long as real names don't become mandatory, many gamers will tolerate the new systems. Wholesale adoption though, may be years away.

Source: Kotaku

Author: Brian Hoss

Tags: PLaystation, Xbox One, Sony, Xbox (all tags)