Our identities are not fixed. We are constantly growing as individuals. Our tastes and preferences are ever shifting. This means that the names that we go by are constantly in flux. When you were a child, you may have identified as SonGokuSon2388. As you grew older, maybe you felt it was time to be a bit more mature and go by x0xBubblebuttx0x. And what of your adult life, when you set off on your own, accept responsibilities and a job, and finally step into your own as BurgerMcBurgerface? Unfortunately, not all companies understand that freedom. But, maybe there is still hope?
Sony does not allow people to change their PlayStation Network usernames. Launched in 2006, it has been ten years of people being forced to go by whatever names they thought suited their personality at the time. In the over ten years that have passed, a lot has changed. We have changed. But PSN has remained the same. Sony has never implemented a system to allow people to adjust their names. It is wrong and something that needs to be remedied. We need the ability to adjust who we are, either to better reflect ourselves or even protect ourselves if we do not want people who knew our original name to keep finding us.
The worst thing about this is the false hope. There have been suggestions Sony would remedy things in the past. Rumors appeared about prior firmware updates allowing for PSN username changes. Shawn Layden, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, mentioned the feature at PSX 2017. Surveys have gone out, asking people how important they thought such a feature would be and if they wanted it. Even in 2018, an email survey went out concerning the option, but still there is no solid proof of concept.
And certainly, this is no impossible feat. Microsoft has been allowing people to change their gamertags for years. The company does not hold people back. In fact, the company goes above and beyond for Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners. Every once in a while, it will free up the gamertags that have been abandoned over time. This allows people who maybe decided that x0xBubblebuttx0x was pretty classy, but could not take on that name due to someone else having once owned it, to assume that new identity. Such a feature should shame Sony, since its biggest competitor is allowing people the opportunity to do something they never did.
Even the Nintendo Switch allows an opportunity to adjust identities. We can not change our account name, but our nicknames on the system are flexible. We can alter this name to change what our moniker looks like in-games and on fellow players’ Friend Lists. This is even less complicated than Microsoft’s gamertag shifting, as we just head to our profile, pop in a new nickname, and immediately see the changes reflected in the system. Yet Sony can not even allow us that. We are limited to that unchangeable PSN moniker or, if grant people permission to see it, our real names.
And really, while I have gone on and on about how this can mainly be about accurately representing ourselves and our identities, it could be a security issue too. What if a child is being bullied, and the people verbally assaulting the kid have his PSN name? Even if he blocks them, they still have his name and can continue to pester him with requests. What if a woman was in a bad relationship and her abusive partner wants to use the PlayStation Network as a venue to bother her, sharing her username online? Allowing people to change their name would provide a sense of comfort and anonymity.
It is time to stop teasing us with the thought of possible name changes. Microsoft has allowed people to switch to new identities for years. While Nintendo does not allow people to change their usernames, it is possible to alter the nickname that appears on everyone’s Friend Lists and in-games. Yet Sony, for over 10 years now, has offered no option or alternative for people in the PlayStation ecosystem. It is incredibly disheartening. Things need to change. Do not force someone to be MacarenaAnimeBoy forever.