Earlier today I activated Google Plus on my account that I used to activate my phone, an Android device. I had read so much about people using it for running online role-playing games, I wanted to try it out. I would much prefer to use something like a jabber chatroom, but no one has created a stable client for Android, and I wanted to try running a game on the go. It sounds silly, but I liked the idea of an ongoing narrative, where anyone with a web browser or Android device could participate. Not everyone knows how to join a chatroom in jabber, as sad as that fact is.
Anyhow, I created a profile, without anything on it besides an avatar photo. I posted a couple of test messages, trying to figure out how it all works. The interface isn’t that great on the website. I think that Google must really not do any user testing anymore. It is a mess. For some reason the app on my mobile kept timing out, but at least it was syncing up when it could connect. I was thinking that if I could find some friends who also used the service, I could actually get a game going.
Then it happened. My name was rejected.
I used my name as I write it, which is マイキ. That is how I sign my name, and I use it around the web in some places. I don’t use it on most social networks because it is hard for people to refer to me if they are not set up to type in Japanese, and my primary language is English; I don’t actually read, write or speak in Japanese very often, though I do listen to it in song and video.
Google has this grudge against mononymous people, so they required a last name. I have a last name just for scenarios like this, and I put it in: インテリ. Something interesting happened when I did that, actually. When it would show my name, it wrote it as インテリマイキ. That is to say, last name first, or more specifically, family name, then first name. I imagine they have some function that reads the language the name is in. It is obviously not very smart. My name should probably be written マイキ・インテリ. They are faux/foreign words, but that isn’t really the point.
It is my name.
And Google disagrees. Groovy! I was already feeling really terrible about using Google Plus. I host my mail with Google, and I use the company’s feed reader. I am trying to cut them off completely, and adding one of their services felt like a weakness. So, their inflexibility prompted me to delete the profile. For what it’s worth, they did make that process easy.
Now I will just continue with hosting games through virtual tabletops and jabber. Hopefully someone will come up with a killer XMPP client that feels like it is asynchronously communicating with a group of people, and folks will realize that when a company marginalizes anyone, it degrades the entire network.
One can hope.