Your Game, Your Name and Your Online Presence

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by EternalShadow, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    This is going to get long and complicated I'm sure, but this is the basics of it:

    - I have a massive online presence.

    - I do not want my real name to be tied to this online presence (there isn't anything bad tied to my name, but I'd just rather not have people online finding out my real name, if this makes sense?) 

    - However, when publishing a commercial game, you are required to have licenses for what you use.

    - When procuring these licenses for those that ask, they will likely have your real name attached (unless you purchase through Steam or whatever).

    - Even if the license does not have your real name (i.e: a company name) this company name could be backsearched for your real name.

    - An alternative to this is to publish the game under a new nickname, with my real name - and thus have all the licenses attached to that person/profile.

    - However, people will still recognize me even if I use a different nickname for my public profile (like Shadowfire or w/e), given that I've already posted the game in question on here.

    - I am debating making said game commercial on Greenlight.

    Simply put: Is there any way to get around having your (mine, in this case lol) real name be publicly available when publishing a game, particularly a game that has already been attached to this profile? Because if I publish the game in question as a commercial one, even under a new nickname or company name - a quick search of that game's name will reveal my real name and tie it to this one within two to three searches (publisher name on Greenlight (presumably real name alongside it) -> Game's Name -> This current name).
     
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  2. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    Not easily, because if you go commercial you're legally required to tax that income, and that will connect you real name to the game.

    There are a few ways to substitute a company name for your real name when going commercial, but that will require you to create that company and handle it's accounting . something that requires additional work even if it allows you to use the company name only for public view.

    It depends on the laws in your country - if you really want to go this way, you'll need to ask a business lawyer how to handle this.
     
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  3. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    And even if a company name is used, it is very easy to backsearch that company anyway, and find my real name. It's probably not a viable solution to do that anyway, for this purpose.


    Would my best bet in this case be to change my names on the websites where I have put the game to the alias I intend to use for the publication of the game?


    (When you submit a game on Greenlight I think it goes via your profile rather than a real name, because taxes are removed before you get the revenue - therefore, I don't think your real name is actually used in public on Greenlight. It's only used with Steam's finance dept. as far as I can tell.)


    Like so: > oruga51's Workshop


    Which I would be totally happy with - but I don't know what other portals actually require a real name. If I am distributing the product (with the real name accounting done with the distributing company) under an alias, but working with the real name with the finance dept. of the distributor, I'm fine with that.
     
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  4. Ralpf

    Ralpf Veteran Veteran

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    Yeah, I think you need to talk to a lawyer.

    The only thing that comes to mind is to release your game under another company's name there would probably be a legal way for you to release your game under another company's umbrella and keep everything legal for tax proposes, but again, I'm not a lawyer and you really need to discuss this with one.
     
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  5. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    I suggest you take a step back and explain to us what you want to prevent by not having your real name associated with your game.

    No matter what, there will be ways to connect you to everything you posted on the internet - the only question is how much work and how much access this requires.

    And Steam cannot handle your taxes for you - they can only handle sale tax, NOT income tax and that way you will be connected with your real name. There is no way to prevent that.

    But it's something else if you want to prevent specific connections or problems, because tax records aren't public. If you have a specific personal problem with such connection, you'll most probably have to ask a lawyer about it. If it's a general dislike only, then we might be able to give you a few tips on how to approach it.
     
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  6. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    bold: I do not mind dealing with the tax IRL, because that is not dealt with through the alias, and as you said, they are not public.


    Specifically, I do not want people to be able to link up 'HotfireLegend' to the game, and from there, to be able to find out (via any public non-tax record or what-have-you) my real name. Essentially, not to allow a connection of the alias to my real name. I don't mind if people search my real name (because to do that, they would have to know me IRL and I don't mind in that instance) and find HotfireLegend. I just don't want the reverse instance.
     
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  7. amerk

    amerk Veteran Member

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    Considering how many authors using pseudonyms to hide their real name have been found out during the years (even before the internet), I highly doubt it's completely preventable. Anybody wanting to find your real name will do so given the right resources. Oftentimes, the more popular you are (celebrity) and the harder you try to hide, the more attention it'll probably bring.

    I doubt any typical gamer is going to care enough to look, but media has a way of digging up almost anything if they care enough to do so. I'm fairly certain that RPG Maker developers aren't going to strike the media's attention enough to care. But if you suddenly became a widespread programming celebrity, then the possibility is there.

    Whether or not you can prevent the media from releasing your name (if found out) is up to a lawyer, but most often than not it'll probably be considered freedom of press. After all, look at all the dirt they find with celebrity's and their past; I'm sure each celebrity has done what they can to hide things, to no avail. Really, though, unless you've got some big dark secret that may come back to haunt you, don't sweat it. Nobody probably cares enough to connect the dots.
     
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  8. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    Nope, I don't think such a thing exists. You can try to hide your real persona as much as you'd like but there will always be ways to find out. And yeah, I don't think normal players would really try to find out anyways.

    Also, can you explain why you don't want that to happen? Are you afraid of something?
     
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  9. Dark Gaia

    Dark Gaia Disgruntled Writer Veteran

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    This might sound harsh, but if you're not prepared to have your real name associated with your work, then you're not ready to be a commercial developer. As the others in this thread have mentioned, there's a whole lot of legal questions that pop up when you're not using your real name for the purposes of licensing and tax declaration. Even when recruiting other people to make music, scripts or other resources for you, you want them to sign a legally binding contract to protect yourself, and that would require your real name and (sometimes) even your postal address or other details. Heck, even registering a domain for a website to sell your game requires your real name and a real phone number.

    You'd need to use your real name on all banking/Paypal and payment related forms, as it is a crime in many countries to open a bank account in a fake name or to provide fake bank details on a legally binding contract.

    By choosing to release a commercial game, you're saying you're ready to go into a business as a sole trading entity, as a content creator who is a public figure. You can use a company label or an internet alias on anything you release, but eventually you'll have to use your real name on something, and if you're serious about doing business, you have to be comfortable with the fact that your identity will be known to some people. Consider yourself to be similar to an author or film director - you're a public person with a public persona.
     
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  10. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    Again, as long as my name is NOT tied to Hotfirelegend, I do not mind. It can be tied to the game for all I care, to a new alias, it can be tied to non-public tax records, etc. But how much of the web that HotfireLegend as a name covers - it's a unique one too - worries me a little.

    @Engr: Basically I don't want people searching "HotfireLegend" and getting my real name in one or two clicks.

    However, let's presume I changed my online name on all sites where I posted the game to... Idk, Shadowfax. For example, changing it on here to Shadowfax. That means that if I do it for all of the involved sites, there wouldn't be a direct link between hundreds of sites and my real name. You'd have to search the second name (Shadowfax) or the game name to obtain it, which would only be on a few sites.
     
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  11. Galenmereth

    Galenmereth I thought what I'd do was Veteran

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    Sadly, if I wanted to find out, I could use archive.org to find earlier dates where you posted the game, to see if you posted it under another alias. Even using Google you can easily find older versions of websites through web archiving. So I'm afraid that no matter what you do, your current nickname/alias will be tied to your game unless you change the name of the game completely, and your alias, everywhere, using new accounts, and not telling anyone. And even then, I'm sure people would recognize your work and go "hey, wasn't that the game that guy showed off? Did you steal it?", and then you'd be in another kind of sinkhole.

    I get your dilemma though, and there are a lot of good reasons for not wanting your nick directly tied to your real name that are all perfectly legal and reasonable. I just don't think it's feasible once you've already tied your nick to the game you're now going to tie your real name to :)
     
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  12. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    Yep, though I was thinking the use of archive.org would've been another step that anyone searching my name would've had to use. Kind of like weak DRM - if there is some sort of thing that slows people down, it'll slow like, 10% or whatever (but unless people actually have a reason to use archive.org it is unlikely they will use it so maybe 90% in this case?)

    Hmm.

    Though, I suppose that since my real name wouldn't be publicly available on gaming portals like Greenlight, it might still be viable to go ahead and just use my profile there. If I registered a business and that was searched, it would likely be easier to find the real name than if trying to dig up some financial record, payment for services or licenses or something for it. Any future sites I submit to can just be under a new online name, like Shadowfax.

    (To clarify: only using my real name with legal and financial entities I an fine with)

    It's not a perfect solution, but it's probably the most hassle-free one.
     
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  13. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    Or why not just use your real name or the company name on those sites/games?

    No nickname = no nickname to tie up with your real name...
     
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  14. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    I've already posted said game under this nick. Posting it again directly under my real name would be counter-intuitive! (A company name could be used, yes - but those are easily searched unless I am somehow registered as an employee of a company and someone else owns the company... Which is when I'd likely need a business lawyer, should I choose that route...)
     
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  15. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    then we can't do anything bout it... there might even be no point in trying to change names if the goal is for the game that you already posted...

    you could still do that for anything new you'd post though. :3
     
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  16. seita

    seita Donn_M Veteran

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    I don't quite understand why you're trying to distance yourself from your online handle. Honestly speaking, I put no value in anyones online handle. If this is to stop people from connecting previous works to your new ones, your best bet is to abandon Hotfirelegend in its entirety and start a new one, or just lead a double online life. For all I know you're also Victor Sant.

    If that's the case, then personally I would say embrace your previous works regardless how bad they were and show the world how far you've come.
     
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  17. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    It's nothing to do with my previous works, lol. But thanks for the semi-compliment xD

    Moreso, I just don't want people from - for example - reddit - finding my real name.

    Edit: No, I'm not a member of any questionable subreddit communities! However, it's very easy to jump from/look at community to community.
     
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  18. whitesphere

    whitesphere Veteran Veteran

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    I'm assuming you are female based on your avatar pic --- which has a 50% chance of being wrong.

    The reason I ask:  Are you trying to avoid the tons of personal crap that seems to drop on female indie devs just for being female?   I'm just guessing because of the recent gaming scandals where Internet losers decided to ruin a woman's life, or the female indie developer who received death threats for daring to bring up the topic of sexism in games.

    I can completely understand why you'd want to avoid that mess.  Depending on what you real name is, could you use a gender-neutral variant of your legal name?  Or the legal equivalent of a pen name?  That wouldn't stop all of the crap, but would help delay it at least a bit.

    I definitely recommend talking to a business lawyer about your concerns.  Now, if you get so famous that you make public appearances, this won't help.  But I'd hope it offers at least some buffer from those types of people.
     
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  19. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    Someone made this for me XD


    http://imgur.com/ditRuUN


    It is a real shame that female indies are picked on in such a way though - and it is probably a good reason to be wary of your online identity, regardless of gender. Like Felica - someone found her details and tweeted them - now she has to live somewhere else. :/


    Celebrities have a similar issue, though it is moreso to do with privacy rather than harassment. Then again, I suppose their security guards can deal with that sort of thing, so we don't see/hear of it as often.


    It is unlikely I'd be doing public appearances unless I'm getting enough money for a security guard or something, but I suppose the same issue would apply regardless of whether a game is being made, a book is being written or a film is being shown. Heck, Sony was threatened by North Korea, but the original film's creator is safe because he's hidden under the umbrella of Sony.


    Regardless, I would probably be best off asking a business lawyer about my options at this point! The safest, but most annoying one I can think of at this moment (considering I have already invested a lot of time into this game) is to start fresh with a new identity and game(s), but that has its own problems of course.
     
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  20. Dark Gaia

    Dark Gaia Disgruntled Writer Veteran

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    Honestly, I think most of those Redditors and dudebros that harass women in gaming aren't actually serious. Because the internet gives them anonymity, they feel empowered to send death threats and rape threats over Twitter trying to "defend" gaming, but most of them are just trolls that just want to try to fuel drama and get an amusing reaction out of their female targets.

    As a commercial developer, you'll have to deal with trolls no matter what you do. Even if people never discover your identity or gender, there are still bad reviews, RPG Maker haters and other trolls that you'll attract simply because you're in the public sphere. Using a pseudonym isn't really a way to avoid haters, but if you're looking to hide your gender, I guess it's a reasonable option.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I am a published author who used a pseudonym in the past, so I do have some experience in that area. So long as you use your real name on contracts and in banking details, there's nothing legally stopping you from using a pseudonym or building a new internet identity. You would still have to put your real name on all the legal paperwork, but you don't have to actually put it up on your website or in your games. My real identity is pretty easy to find (that was a conscious choice - it's in the "About Me" on my blog) and it's what I've used on the publishing contracts with Degica et. al, but as far as people on Steam are aware, I'm just "Dark Gaia Studios". Similarly, I've sold short stories in the past under my real name and gave my real details to the publisher, but had them print the stories with a fake name.

    EDIT: I know most of this isn't relevant to the OP, who is apparently male - I'm mainly pointing out that hiding your identity to avoid trolls isn't really a viable option, using the Gamergate stuff as an example.
     
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