A GamerTag is not something Counter-Strike-addicted convicts have to wear. It's your identification on Microsoft's XBox Live system (see fondue's excellent node on it). It is your handle, your nickname, your username of sorts. Mine, for example, is Sir Mixalot (don't ask).

It is, however, more than just your usual identification: why do you think people are so rude to each other on the internet? Why do you think that people have no qualms about sharing intimate details of their life on messageboards, when they would be horrified at telling their parents?

The answer, viewers, is


On a messageboard, one feels free to tell people about one's sex life or mental state because one can change one's username the next day, and no-one's the wiser. No-one knows who you are on the internet, is generally the case, and for many people, this is part of the attraction. The advantages are many - anonymity allows people to get over their hang-ups and ask important questions they would otherwise have had to keep to themselves. They can share anecdotes about friends and family without fear of someone recognising them.

The disadvantages of anonymity, are all too clear on the other hand. One word: Trolling.

Now the ingenious thing about GamerTags (/me gets beaten up by Microsoft haters) is that the layer of anonymity is stripped away, and you have to talk to people in the knowledge that you cannot change your GamerTag. It is, like your name, with you forever. Thus you must be polite to people, because if you start racing around the track backwards and talking in leetspeak, people will get pissed off and refuse to play with you. You cannot insult people, because word will get around that you are an asshole and you will get banned.

Quite frankly, it's about time manners came back to the internet and people learn how to be responsible for what they say.

Take E2, for example: a username is the equivalent of a GamerTag (not quite as foolproof) because yes, sure you can discard a hated username and get a new one but at the cost of the nodes and rep you built up. A community only builds up as effectively as E2 when there is a degree of continuity and stability.

Back to some more factual information: you can add GamerTags to your hard drive either ingame by selecting them, or via the XBox Live dashboard, where you can type in the names of users. This is nice, because I added a certain FlashGordon to my buddies list, without knowing who he is. My logic was that a guy with the foresight to grab a Tag like that must be worth knowing.