I’m old-school and maybe a little old-fashioned, but Sony’s latest announcement about displaying real names online is a rotten idea to me. Here’s the skivvy: PS4’s ID system will allow games to pull their real names from Facebook. From there, gamers can decide whether they want to display their real name to friends, opponents, strangers, and male sex offenders posing as gamergurl91.
Now, I know you’re thinking: “Whoa, if it’s optional, what are you so upset about?”
I understand it’s completely optional, but the option itself is one that will only cause more harm than good. I hate to sound preachy in a gaming blog, but people who display their real names will be opening themselves up to any number of security issues–and for what? So we can know that “Dave Smith” was the one who sniped our asses in a FPS deathmatch? And since PS4 identities are drawn from Facebook accounts, cyber-thieves will have an easy trail to follow.
I shouldn’t have to point out that you can display your real name easily on PS3 or any other system that permits screen names. “Dave Smith” could roam the PS3 waiting rooms as “Dave_Smith1” if he pleases. What this new PS4 option means is that gamers will be more encouraged to display their identities online. If the option itself isn’t enticing enough, imagine how gamers will cave once online trash talk heats up: “If you’re such a badass, why do you go by your screen name?”
I’m sure Sony’s intentions are clean. In a perfect world, real name displays could prompt maturity and accountability in online matches: we’d surely see a decline in gradeschool sex jokes and uncalled-for insults. Yet at the same time, the twelve-year-old screaming throughout a Call of Duty match is nothing compared to the silent lurker who for some reason wants to get on your good side…