These are some thoughts dredged up because of the recent (Dec 1/2012 at 0300 Eastern time) shutdown of the game City of Heroes. They’re not really related to the shutdown itself but it did cause me to think back on a lot of things from the last eight and a half years. I’m not going to talk much about the shutdown itself; other folks have done that at length and I can’t add all that much. It did generate a lot of virtual press and a lot of vitriol.
(All I will say is that for the parent corporation to close a profitable game in this way shows contempt for their customer base. But that’s practically the definition of ‘corporation’, so while I don’t like it, it’s hardly surprising.)
I’ve discussed (About) that my pseudonym comes from the name of a character in this game. I haven’t discussed why I used it in the first place. It’s Friendface‘s fault. (Friendface is a not-really-thinly-disguised parody of Facebook in the excellent british sitcom “The IT Crowd.”)
A few years ago a group at work came to me with a problem receiving email from friendface/facebook. I attempted to contact the facebook tech support but it wasn’t easy; it was a little easier for a facebook member/user/whatever they’re called so I created an account. Even then, though, they had a reputation for playing a little fast and loose with people’s privacy so I was a little apprehensive. A friend (who himself used the pseudonym of a much-reviled dead politician) suggested using a pseudonym to make it marginally more difficult for them to do so.
(Aside: if you care, their tech support and I eventually established that the email problem was due to friendface also playing fast and loose with some existing standards. Email, after all, depends on adherence to standards in order to work at all. They violated them in such a way as to fall afoul of a particular anti-spam strategy.)
At the time, I never really intended to continue using the account. Things change, though.
My pseudonym had an unanticipated side effect — I became easy to find for people who played City of Heroes, so ‘friend’ requests started trickling in from people that (as far as I could tell) I had never actually met — at least, not In Real Life. I’d receive one and intelligently go “Duh….” and he/she would have to explain that he/she was really from CoH.
There’s one more part to the preamble.
On my list of character flaws is the fact that I’m not particularly good with faces. I don’t remember them and I’m truly awful at recognizing them — especially out of context. (I can see someone I’ve known for years at someplace unexpected and just not see them.) I’m also truly hopeless at the game of “what else have we seen this actor in.” (My performance gets a little better if I close my eyes and just go by the voice — “That voice played a Romulan in TNG and a Narn in B5.”)
I can often remember names, but I can’t match them to faces. (I can usually remember the names of the kids in the neighborhood, for example, but frequently can not remember which name goes with which face.)
Fast forward to last year when I decided to buy a new laptop; my old one was getting a little long in the tooth so I rationalized for a while then went out and bought one. Fine. I took it home and fairly early on, tried to connect to facebook with my username and password.
That posed a problem. Because facebook had decided to ask me for another layer of authentication, presumably because it detected that I had never logged on from this computer before. It asked me to identify several friends of mine.
That was a problem.
“That might be Braxie, but he has antennae on his hat. I think. And that might be Arwen, but she has a tail.”
It took several tries for me to identify enough friends to satisfy facebook.
Clearly I am a bad person.