Aaron Smith is a teacher from Maryland, and co host of the More Than Megapixels podcast with Dwight, owner of Dawnforge.
Way back before I started playing World of Warcraft, I chose the name “theartguy” as my digital persona. I still use it for most Web 2.0 sites that catch my fancy, and as someone who teaches at a creative & performing arts magnet school I think it says something notable about who I am.
I do not use this name in WoW.
Why not? Because I’m currently a member of <Heroes of Lordaeron>, the Dawnforge Productions’ fan guild on Argent Dawn. This matters because it’s a “Role Playing” (RP) realm.
I’ve talked about naming conventions before, attempting to show as little of my own bias as possible. On an RP server, it’s kind of important.
Let’s look at it this way: Lord of the Rings, arguably one of the most famous series of fantasy novels ever written, would have a much different feel to it if Gandalf led an intrepid band of adventurers named Ishootyou, Ichopu, and Gondorking.
Doesn’t have the same immersive feel to it then, does it?
Blizzard knows this too. They’ve set up a naming policy for RP servers to help make it a more immersive environment. They don’t force players to actively participate in role playing events, but a fantasy style name means they’re passively participating – or at least, not disrupting those who choose to role play. Don’t want to follow the RP name policy? There are plenty of non-RP realms to choose from. Creating a character on an RP realm means you’ve agreed to the naming policy, just like creating a character on a PvP realm means you agree that in most areas another player might attempt to kill your character.
Sounds simple? It should, except any given day there are people on PvP realms who complain about having to engage in PvP, and there are countless characters on RP servers who don’t follow the naming policy.
“In b 4 ‘Wahts RP?'” Also, “In b 4 ‘RP is dead.'”
Assuming said comments are not said by trolls, the 1st comment should be met with a well written explanation of RP, and the 2nd with a strong recommendation to stay out of Goldshire/Silvermoon, depending on your faction.
So what’s to be done?
Guilds like <Heroes of Lordaeron> are already doing what they can, requiring their members to follow the naming conventions established by Blizzard. A few names were grandfathered in, but poor behavior on a member’s part can make the whole guild look bad.
And of course there’s always the option of reporting name violations yourself. Non-RP names don’t belong on RP realms, and offensive names don’t belong anywhere. It’s easy to do, too.
1. Click the question mark in your toolbar to bring up the “Help” screen.
2. Click the “Report Abuse” button.
3. Click on Open a Ticket.
4. In the ticket type the specific name(s) that you feel are worth reporting. It helps to have an addon like Prat installed since it will allow you to copy/paste the name exactly as it appears, special characters and all. “Yøürmåmåsøƒåt” may be difficult to report otherwise.
Why is it up to guilds to set policies and players to report players? As I’ve mentioned before, any network that’s reached a “critical mass” of users is far too large to be adequately regulated by that network’s paid staff. They have to crowd-source that responsibility to their user base.
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with a final note:
5. Don’t get discouraged. Not every reported name will be changed (In some cases violations will be a matter of opinion, and at the end of the day it’s Blizz’s opinion that counts.) Not every changed name will be replaced with something less offensive. Some will even see getting reported as some sort of badge of honor. Here there be trolls, and that’s not just a race selection.
But some names you report will be changed for the better. That will help make your RP realm a better place, and it will be – at least in part – because of you.