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  Blizzard, What’s in a Name?  
Posted 2004-09-22 by Tony Walsh
Blizzard Entertainment, makers of the Warcraft series of games, is proposing restrictions on user-created character, pet, group and place names in its forthcoming World of Warcraft MMOG. The intent of the restrictions seems to be to curb "inappropriate" naming that would either ruin the artistic intent of the game or would be offensive to users.

Of course this is a terribly murky and slippery path. In a role-playing game, users generally want as much freedom as possible, particularly when it comes to the name of their characters. Now, if a character named "Osama," is deemed to "have any racial/ethnic connotations," the user can be warned, suspended, or banned. Whose ethnicity is Blizzard concerned with, I wonder? Laughably, names that refer to a part of the human body are also violations of the Terms-- so "Brighteyes" and "Headsmasher" are just no good.

I can't imagine how such a thing would be policed in a game that's bound to have tens of thousands of subscribers. There's an easy way to solve this problem, and that's to give users a palette of name parts based on the fictional races within the game. By combining pre-defined syllables, you'd get world-appropriate names that are guaranteed not to offend.

But if names are regulated, can speech be next?
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Comment posted by Cienna
September 22, 2004 @ 7:23 pm
Same way naming policies are policed in the other MMOs.

1) GM approval of name on creation. I think only EQ does this.
2) GM 'fixing' of names as they see them. Most all games do this.
3) Players submit inappropriate names into the GM support queue. Most of them do this as well.

The only place they really differ from the other games is the "Immersion Breaking" section. And even that is usually enforced on the role-playing servers in those games.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 22, 2004 @ 7:31 pm
Thanks for the insight. I haven't played any of the big MMOs, and while I had some idea of the kind of support/admin required, I'm really surprised that the measures you mentioned are in place. I guess when some of these games have a hundred thousand subscribers, they can afford to pay for the a legion of enforcers. Can you imagine having to regulate people's names and RP-chat all day? Ugh.
Comment posted by Roflcopter
September 23, 2004 @ 11:09 am
Most of those are understandable -- though some are... odd -- but the "immersion breaking" regulations would, if I were to play, irk me. Does that mean they will enforce how fantasy-like people will talk in the game, too? Because, really, if you start enforcing HOW people should play in their virtual world (which, you know, they use to socialize with real-world people with) you are going to tick-off a lot of people.
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