The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
After hearing my fellow editors gush
recently, I finally decided to check out Blizzard's free-to-play CCG the other night. An hour of trying to figure out my login information and an embarrassing
chat with a Blizzard support rep later, I still hadn't played the game – but I did
learn a valuable life lesson.
I was sincerely looking forward to trying out Hearthstone,
but my evening was quickly railroaded by the absurd security precautions of
Blizzard's Battle.net service. If gaming services were movie character
stereotypes, Battle.net would be the tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist that
makes the audience chuckle and think, "nobody's that paranoid." Only Battle.net is
that paranoid, and not nearly as funny.
I tried to log into my Battle.net account like I do all of
my online accounts – by randomly guessing at my username and password half a
dozen times before stumbling upon the right combination. Eventually, I figured
it out – time to play, right?
Apparently, knowing your username and password (albeit with a few wrong guesses) isn't enough for Battle.net; before starting Hearthstone, it also
wanted me to verify that it was really me
by answering a security question: What was your childhood nickname?
Only I didn't have a childhood nickname. After trying a
couple variations of my name (Jeffro? Jeffy? Jeff?), I looked for an option to answer a different
security question, but my nonexistent childhood nickname was the only option.
Why the hell would I choose that security question?
After a few more failed tries (including several variations
of "Hangtime"), I clicked the link to verify my Battle.net account using
another method. The only other option was to input the product key from a
physical copy of a Blizzard game tied to my Battle.net account. This also
proved to be a problem – the only thing I've ever used my account for before
was to play an hour of the free-to-play version of Diablo III. Clearly, you
can see why my account would be a top priority for hackers...
The final option at my disposal was to reset my password –
it didn't seem like it would be of much help since I knew my existing password,
but I was desperate. No luck – I was once again prompted with my security
question. Battle.net was obsessed with finding out my childhood nickname.
After 30 minutes of guessing and Yosemite Sam-esque
obscenity muttering, Battle.net informed me that my account had been completely
locked down. It was time to exercise the nuclear option: online chat support.
Blizzard's support chat is themed like you're speaking to a
character from one of the company's games, complete with sound effects and a
cartoony avatar of the person you're talking to. The person helping me looked
like a cat wearing goggles, and the name suggested I was talking to a woman,
which would make the ensuing conversation all the more embarrassing. Below is
the transcript of the chat; I have omitted the Blizzard rep's name, as she may
or may not have bent a few rules while helping me out.
The support rep wasn't lying – unlocking the account was
super easy, and ironically didn't require any other security measures. Apparently,
hackers just aren't willing to wait 20 minutes to ask tech support to unlock
the account. However, we hadn't solved the underlying problem – without knowing
my security answer, this would all happen again next week when I inevitably
have to re-guess my re-forgotten password.
If I was smart, I would've stopped while I was ahead. Then
again, if I was smart, I wouldn't have picked a security question that doesn't
have an answer, then make up a fictitious answer and immediately forget it. I
was determined to fix all of my Battle.net problems in one fell swoop.
Note how the rep said that they don't actually change
security answers...After snapping a few pics, I had a decent shot of my ID.
Boner, eh? Was I going for an obscure reference to Mike Seaver's best friend in Growing Pains? Or
just being an idiot? I think we both know the answer to that one... Thankfully, the support rep took pity on me.
After thinking about it some more, I vaguely recalled a conversation I had with our former PC editor, Adam Biessener, about how much
I despise security questions – likely around the time I would've been testing the
PC version of Diablo III for my review
of the console versions. I'm guessing that conversation ended with me deciding
that a stupid answer would be hilarious,
assuming I wouldn't forget it one day...
So there you have it, kids: If you're going to pick a crank
response for an online password or security question, at least be smart enough
to write it down – it may save you from an embarrassing conversation with
a stranger one day.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.