This is a disheartening development, if only because of the trend it affirms.
Who would of thought that the “Don’t you guys have phones” joke would go so far in the span of a year? I rarely make posts of this depth, but this trend of shifting everything to Smartphones / Email, is a troubling one that I believe is worthy of discussion.
Consider that if you “do” have a phone you are likely subject to said Telecommunication Companies whims. Decisions like the one Blizzard has made here simply affirm a inevitable trend in our society, but it seems to me that it is also a very dangerous trend in society.
You can disagree with me if you like. But I submit that giving more power to a bigger company that oversees Smartphone / Tablet production is a very bad idea and down the road, I can see it becoming a serious issue for any business without significant restrictions in place to protect them, or the consumer.
Why do I say this? Because it represents the beginning of the end for personal property, and eventually intellectual property as well in many ways since you’ll be forced to cede to the demands of a bigger company to have a venue in which to do business.
When you buy or utilize a product on the internet, everyone (including Blizzard) has to click the “Agree” on a Terms of Service, or in the signing of the contract. That is a foregone conclusion in Internet Business, and business in general.
Yet at the same time, I wonder how many of you actually read the full thing; or possess the legal education to understand how much of your personal rights you cede away in clicking that button?
Imagine a not so distant future when / if you say something on the internet you will find yourself in a situation where access to things you have worked on, paid for, or earned gets deleted or shut down because of something you said somewhere on the Internet.
Steam while an excellent service offers another example of this problem. As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s, lets say that hypothetically you bought a Video-Game Cartridge. Now maybe you dislike the title. Perhaps even the Game Maker hates your guts for whatever reason.
Despite that, you can still play the title because you paid for it. The Game-Maker can’t demand the cartridge back, nor can they demand that you stop using it. It’s your property. There is nothing that can change that fact.
But that isn’t the case with Steam Libraries, WoW Accounts, or myriad other digital properties on the internet. If this is the direction we as a society intend to go, I think maybe it’s time that discussion was had. It has nothing to do with my WoW account, but everything to do with more sensitive things down the road such as how we pay our utilities, shop, travel etc.
These days it’s becoming more and more common for companies to block access to funds and or services which people already paid for, when and where they do not meet their business model. Often the person is accused of X or Y that supposedly violated the “Terms of Service”.
The problem with this argument that I see is this. If a Cell-Phone is going to be core to functioning in society, then is it fair to say that in denying the use of it, one is depriving the user of a basic human right?
I think it’s worthwhile to consider what Tron said or to-wit: “Fight for the User”.
Was the denial of service a legitimate one because wrongdoing was actually committed or was it because the company in question sought to induce conformity “with their values” on various levels?
The movie, Ready Player One touches on this elegantly with IOI and their indentured servants, the “Sixers”: _ The message and way it’s said can change, but it inevitably boils down to: “Do what we say, or everything you have worked for is gone.”
Or to wit: “Resistance is futile.”
Bear in mind also that under the black-letter of the law, a Corporation should not be possessed of “values”, since they are supposed to be faceless non-entities, save in matters that relate to finance. This isn’t a political discussion, so don’t try to turn it into one. It’s a discussion on societal trends.
I think it’s worth asking yourself if you as an individual are alright with a non-judge deciding such things and ceding your due process. I think in cases like WoW, it’s fine. It’s a fictional game played for recreation.
But as goes one company so go many others. So I would definitely consider one’s feelings long and hard. Why? Because in such a scenario you will eventually have no way to gain surety that you received a fair shake, and there will be no guarantees in place ensuring you will not be exploited and abused.
How can I make this statement? Simple. Because even companies like Blizzard do not allow the discussion of moderation actions. This is totally acceptable where it relates to Blizzard and I am not on any level accusing them of wrongdoing.
Indeed the items in WoW have no real value (save perhaps a sentimental value to the account holder). Yet what happens when the items have real value? Is that acceptable when that is the case?
The reason I do not fault Blizzard is because their efforts have always been benign and consumer friendly. You’ll struggle to find a more top notch group than their Customer Service Department. People can trash Activision all they want, but you have to admit in the last 15 years they HAVE been good to us and fair for the most part. That should count for something.
Nonetheless, my concern is this folks:
What happens 10 years from now when companies that produce Smartphones / and or Tablets are the ones handling that?
This has very little to do with WoW, but because Blizzard is a multi-million dollar company, their decision to discontinue physical authentication, showcases a much larger and systemic issue that as a society I think needs to be discussed at some point.
Do I believe our accounts are less secure with Cell-Phones? No idea. I would assume they will be just as secure. At the same time, the physical authentication is a good firebreak against email theft etc. But is manufacturing a physical authenticator cost effective? Likely not.
The issue I’m making here is this. Down the road, five to ten years from now, we’re looking at a situation where Cell-Phones are going to be the central nervous system of everyone’s life.
Losing a Cellphone will be like losing your credit card, and you can be sure people right now are working on ways to breach these security measures. I’m not talking about our WoW Accounts. Those are worthless by comparison to other things that could be stolen when you lose your phone.
And if you are dependent on a company for the item to function, then have you not ceded control of your life to whatever company / government that manifests to oversee the herculean effort that overseeing / safeguarding everyone’s cellphones will entail?
Consideration of that it is all I recommend, because this trend will continue. If your not the one in control of access to things like your bank-account / Utilities / Recreation, then who is?
Can you trust X company down the road to not shut you down when you say something that goes counter to their intended goal (Such as pointing this out?) Today we can enjoy a dialogues on such matters, I think.
I like to hope Blizzard and Activision promote robust debates. An easy way to ascertain that for me, and partially what prompted me to write all of this; was to see what the fate of this thread is.
If it is left open as a interesting dialogue, that’s a good thing. But if it’s locked immediately with undue censorship it will speak volumes on the problems that we as a society face, as well as likely make another strong case on why automated systems like the current Flagging system are a bad thing.
I’m not looking to incite people to anger, but I am looking to educate them on some very real issues which if not discussed as a community will ferry us all into a future, where everything you own comes with a Terms of Service, and is subject to seizure.
To close I’ll liken it to WoW, since that is the commonality that unites us all as gamers. If you must give of yourself, so as to access basic amenities… then have you not then given to quote Gul’dan… Everything?
Think about it folks. That’s all I suggest.