What Would Matt Do

I reckon I aim to play some games.

Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

[Updated] Blizzard makes plans to conduct largest internet social experiment ever

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Update: Man, that was fast. As a friend suggested, maybe this was a PR move. “Now that we aren’t going to do obviously outrageous thing, here’s what we’ll do instead…” We shall see.

Blizzard’s Plan

If you are any sort of MMO player or you know one, you probably have already heard about Blizzard’s plans to use what they call RealID. The basics are this:

  • If you use the system and friend anyone else, they can see your real name. It’s not based on character or server, it’s your unique ID with your real name tied to it. No more anonymity in Blizzard games, basically.
  • It will also allow you to do as Steam does now, track people across games. It’s an external friending service, rather than a friend system in a specific game.
  • Some other stuff Blizzard totes as really helpful.

The reality and the why

Here’s the part they don’t mention on that link above…yes, it’s completely optional, but if you want to post on any Blizzard forum, you will have to use your RealID, and hence, your real name. Not to mention once the system gets started and guilds start to require it, as we all know they will, you’ll be giving it up to people you often only known in an online capacity. Why play with someone anonymously, when you can play with them where they have some accountability. It’ll sweep the entire game like wildfire. There will be holdouts of course, but for any serious (read catass) WoW players, they are basically seeing the writing on the wall of having to now be out, so to speak.

Why is Blizzard doing this? Well, if you don’t know, public forums are really hard to control (great, long article). And Blizzard has one of the largest, if not the largest, gaming forum online because of how popular WoW is (most popular MMO of all time still). As you can see from this very scientific documentation, people online aren’t always 1) aware they aren’t anonymous and 2) able to control themselves when anonymous. It’s hilarious and sadly true.

Internet Assholery (or IA) been a big problem for online forums of all types pretty much since the beginning of the internet. There is some disconnect with many people when they think there are no repercussions for their actions. This guy can probably explain it better, and even offers up how he’d like to track the changes.


The reasons no one has done this before

Well, let’s start with some simple examples. Since Blizzard announced this, a few people defending it have offered up their real names. This guy and this guy have both probably thought better of it now. You see, you aren’t actually anonymous anywhere. You aren’t in real life obviously, but you aren’t on the internet either (well, 99.9% of us aren’t). Everything you do online can be tied back to you in one way or another. Even without your real name being given out; that just makes it easier. Look at both of the examples above. The people tracking down these guys used their real names to get started tracking them down, but if they had any other piece of information, or postings where you shared pretty much anything, or posted anything, you can be tracked. Just because you use a fake name on a forum, don’t think that means that people can’t find you. There are a thousand stories of people online being tracked down, well before Blizzard ever even thought of this idea or even running an MMO. It’s a fact of internet life most people don’t realize.

Ok, so we aren’t really anonymous. Well, we aren’t really anonymous once we start engaging. If we post on any forum, any page comments, facebook, etc, not only is that all trying to be tracked by your ISP, it starts to link information to your fake online identity. Which has an IP address, which has a real name attached, etc, etc, etc. So what’s the problem then? Well, because people feel they are anonymous, they act as stated above AND because they aren’t particularly well informed, they believe other people are anonymous. So things like this don’t happen as often as they could.

For others, the big concerns are what are going to happen to the groups of people that really needed the anonymity. For instance, women and/or minorities. No longer can they go online in WoW and join up to a guild or post in forums without people knowing their ethnicity (many names alone suggest this, sometimes as wrong as not) or their sex. Why is this a problem? Well, as you might guess, many gamers are socially retarded. I don’t say that without some self reflection, as a gamer, but I also say it as someone who thinks that invading people’s personal lives is well beyond something I’d condone or do. For many others, it’s just a matter of access to the information. Without the it-takes-more-work-than-its-often-worth-to-figure-out-someones-real name barrier, this sort of thing may happen more. If you’ve ever gone on XBox Live, you’re probably aware of how idiotic people can be online.

To boot, who would be responsible for all of this in a court of law? Some might argue that it’s the company that requires people to give up their anonymity to post on their forum or to be in any of the more serious guilds (I state this as fact, but it could turn out otherwise). Blizzard may very well see lawsuits based on their plan.

Why it’s a potential good thing in the long run

Didn’t expect that title, did you? Well, just think about it for a second. If people have to start thinking when they post online, this could be tied back to me, maybe, just maybe, they will stop acting like assholes. Maybe it will sink in that they aren’t anonymous and that they should have the social grace to handle themselves like they were talking with actual people. Hey, it could happen. As a matter of fact, I think it will happen in the long term. And if this social experiment works for Blizzard, expect more and more companies to do it. The internet isn’t going to directly expose you in the future, you are. You will have to sign up for and validate your identity at every site you want to post on. And you will be banned based on your real identity. No more just signing up another account. And once multiple sites start requiring real names, they will all start using the same service and to post, you’ll have to give up a link that shows your entire internet posting history. For some, this going to be a HUGE change. For others like myself, that have been posting under their real names for a long time, it won’t be such a huge thing. But notice I don’t directly state my full name anywhere on this site, though any enterprising person could easily track me down. I like that layer of separation for my personal site. Heck, many people that read here do so because they know me in RL, so it’s not that big of a deal, but that layer of obfuscation, that bit of work required to track me down, gives me at least a bit more of a wall between the world and my personal life. That I’m sharing for anyone in the world to read… Ya, dumb, I know. But that’s the whole point. Many people aren’t even aware that the anonymity is a lie.

What Would Matt Do: I’d wish Blizzard all of the best. I like the concept and I eagerly await details of how it goes. I’d love to see the things that Jamie mentions on his site above (povg) so we can get real metrics on how this social experiment on a grand scale goes down. Here’s hoping Blizzard not only shares that information at some future date, but that they realize they may be setting a trend for the much of the future of the internet and go…wisely into that great beyond.

Update: Jay and Silent Bob thought about this a long time ago.

Update II: Lots of people are angry. I’m not sure I disagree with them even. It’s a very tough issue.

[edited for grammer. probably more than once.]

Written by Matt

July 8th, 2010 at 11:57 am

What Would Matt Do II

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(this post goes out to one Cap’n John. Keep on keeping on, my friend.)

Well, I made it. I did leave FL, even on the day I said I would (early March). I got up, finished loading up my car, said tearful goodbyes to all of my family. Got in the car and drove out. I had my trusty atlas and my iphone and a destination. Just as a note, I think of a lot of this from my perspective, but without the help of everyone involved, Josh and his family, my Mom, my brothers and most especially, my wife, none of this would have happened. To put an even finer point on it, wherever I say “I did this” or “I did that”, I really mean, my wife and I did it. She supported me on everything and listened when I moaned.

The Trip

The atlas and iphone and some clothes were pretty much all I had (and my laptop of course). I didn’t really have a firm plan other than get there and make it work. I did get there, it took about eight days total, but if I was in a big hurry, I could have probably cut a day off. I drove I40 across the states until I ran into California. I saw a lot of states for the first time and couldn’t resist camping in the snow in Flagstaff. You should have seen the look on the KOA guy’s face when I said I just wanted to throw up a tent and didn’t have an RV. He actually had to ask his boss if that was possible. Thankfully she knew how do it and we all chuckled about them not having a non RV camper in ages.

A couple of nights later, after having talked with my sister on the road one night, I was sleeping on a hippie compound in CA. They have a big complex setup there that they rent out and support. My sister has some long lost family there and they offered to put me up for the night. Not only did they do that, they made a delicious breakfast and we all talked the morning away (after I got up butt early and walked the place. It’s all cedar redwood forest on top of a mountain back in the middle of no where). They said don’t forget to check out Whidbey Island while you’re up there and promised to visit.

Stayed at my cousin’s the next night, which was great. Great last stop on the journey. The next day (Monday) I arrived at my friend Josh’s house.

Getting a Job and a Place.

Getting a job turned out to be pretty easy. Much easier than I thought. I had already been sending out resumes, but most people didn’t want to hear from someone that wasn’t already in the state. That was dumb of them, because I was literally applying in three or four states. The day after I got there, a company flew me out (arranged while I was driving across the country) to Idaho for a job interview, put me up for the night and flew me back the next day. Then I interviewed constantly for about 4 days. Had to turn down a couple of offers that were birds in the hand, but I thought I could get better in the bush. I did snag a good one out of the bush and had an offer on the table in about a week after arriving. I started in late March.

I did all of this from my friend Josh’s place. Without him and his lovely family I wouldn’t have been able to even consider doing this. They put me up, helped me eat (I had almost no funds really) and helped in any way they could. Once I got the job, I started driving back and forth from his house to the job, but it was almost three hours each way, so I ended up renting a room in Oak Harbor (south of Anacortes where I got a job and on Whidbey Island).

Then I started the process of trying to find a house (after a couple of paychecks, so I could actually afford it). My wife and I started searching everything we could find. I looked at so many houses! I started to be able to see just from the ad if it was a Facebooked job or I should at least give it a drive by and then maybe a walk through. I was being picky, but I had time and it was necessary. Just about the time we were going to have to settle for a house, we stumbled across a GREAT place in Oak Harbor of all places. Lots of space and some quiet. Can’t wait to move in.


Now, for me, it’s just waiting. I’m working and waiting…while my wife and kids finish the packing, sell the car and fly out here (and a million other little things). They will be here in two weeks, right after we get the house. It’s finally happened.

When it’s all said and done, it will have been almost exactly four months to the day since I’ve seen my wife and kids in person. I can’t wait. I’ve always been very aware of how lucky I am to have them, so this wasn’t a wake up call, but more an affirmation of the idea that I belong with them and they belong with me.

Worth it?

Completely and totally. I’m without a lot of stuff I’ve recently taken for granted (volleyball group, D&D group, my extended family, beaches for swimming and so on), but with so much more. I’ve been up the top of the mountains in the Cascades and in the Olympics and climbed the two highest points here in Anacortes. I’ve been to the Oregon Coast and hiking in the foothills in Oregon. I’ve seen so much already. This adventure is JUST starting and I’m incredibly excited.

My faith, that my family and friends and I could work this all out, was greatly rewarded. I’ve got a better job, a better place to live, three or four states to explore, family coming soon, so much to do!

P.S. – probably my last true blog post for awhile. Next up, change the world.

Written by Matt

June 16th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Drivel,Thoughts

Dear Mr. President

with 2 comments

Dear Mr. President,

I’m going to ask you to do something now. Listen. Not because I’m smarter than anyone else or because I’m more important. But because I’m not those things. I’m just a guy. Who thinks you might want be a better president than you have been so far. I’m sharing because as song goes, this land is your land, this land is my land.

First, please take over the BP operation right now. I don’t mean stop BP and bring in your own people, I mean use your executive power and take over the corporation, at least temporarily. Use the fact they are criminals and have committed crimes here and now. Or however you need to phrase it. If you can do it with banks, you can do it with oil companies. Use their resources properly, aimed to stem the damage and clean it honestly, not white wash it with chemicals that may be worse than the original spill. Make them start giving you the truth. Then form a council. Invite not CEOs of oil companies, but the most experienced engineers in the field, experts of oil rigs and plugging of leaks underwater, long time navy guys who know about deep pressure, environmentalists who’ve worked with oil spills before, and more. Don’t just talk to other countries, ask them to send their topmost experts. Then have them come up with solutions. All you have to do is ask, people will come help, again, at least temporarily. And the longer you wait, the more BP destroys livelihoods, environments and people.

Second, please start being serious about fixing our oil/coal addiction. I know big corporations with lots of money and power are aligned against that idea AND have funded your presidency. So what. Fight the power. There are many ways to approach this. I’m not an expert in these things. But you know what? Some people are. There are scientists that have great ideas to completely change the way our country runs and the energy it uses. Maybe you could form a council here too. A longer term bigger thing. A scientific council established for the betterment of the country. Hire them. Hire the best people in academics and in the industry. Pay them richly. You could hire then guys, pay them a couple of million each and it would cost less to have them for your whole presidency than it would to build one fighter plane. While you’re forming dream teams, the Ring of Fire guys would be great.

Third, and this ties into the above one, please employ the country. Yeah, politicians will complain. So what? If you use the council created above and get a plan to overall the entire energy grid and power our country off say the deserts in the south because the grid can now transfer energy anywhere…guess who can build that? Our people. You can train them, you can employ them, you can enable them. Not give a handout, put them to work for the betterment of all. People will come in droves. You will educate them in a field and empower them to provide for themselves. And they will love you for it. You’ll be fixing the country and helping the people. That’s just one way. There are so many different ways you could take the 10% of population of who a large amount actually want work and put them to working to change how our country works. With a real energy grid (not a magical one, other countries have done this), we could be off oil and coal and nuclear in 20 years maybe.

That’s not all, but that’s a start. Start thinking of the people. If you start acting from that place, from the place of what’s the best thing for the people, not for the other politicians or for just your voter base or for anything but the people, you’ll start making decisions that will make us love you…instead of just being happy your not as bad as the last guy. In less that’s all your looking to be, not as bad.

I hope this finds you and yours well, and I truly hope you listened. I voted for you. I didn’t believe your words, but I knew you’d be better than the alternatives. But a part of me was really hoping you were the man you gave speeches like. You can still be that man.

Thank you,


Written by Matt

May 28th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

What would matt do?

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You know what I’d do? I’d travel completely across the country to see if I can’t find a better life for me and mine. I’d go with almost no money, with some help from my friends, and hope for the best.


Well, that’s a good question. And the answer is because nothing else fits.

I’ve been living in FL for another 11 years (I grew up here and then moved back) and I don’t like it anymore. I don’t like the economy build on the flesh trade (tourism), I don’t like the angrily-waiting-to-die mentality many have here. I don’t like that I can’t find many like minded people. Mainly though, I want my family and I to live in a place that brings joy every time we go out in it. I want to visit more places than different swamps or beaches (though, it’s hard to get too upset about beaches). We want mountains, snow, hiking, camping, kayaking, etc. Heck, I’d like it if it didn’t take a clean 6 hours just to get of the state I live in. Don’t get me wrong, FL has some great parts, and some great people, but it’s time to move on.

Here’s hoping I find all of that and more. Or at least I find a job and way to get by for a bit longer so I can plan something else. Because not having a job is great, but not having money just doesn’t seem to work with the rest of society.

So what would I do? I’d move. I’m leaving in 5 days. Me first, and then when I get some funds and a place, I’ll fly the family out. I admit, I’m a bit nervous that everything will work out. I do have faith.

Written by Matt

February 24th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Posted in Drivel,Thoughts