New changes to Xbox Live now let everyone and their cousin claim any Gamertag they want, provided they’re okay with having a suffix added to it.

Microsoft announced this change to Gamertags and support for new languages in a news post on Xbox Wire earlier this week. For the new folks, Gamertags are your personal ID on Xbox Live. For example, my Gamertag is Harlem.

I’ll always be Harlem as long as I never change it to something else, Microsoft says. But, other people can now appear in online multiplayer as Harlem too. To help folks tell the difference between the person with an original tag and someone new, new persons who claim a Gamertag will get a number suffix added to their name. So, while I’m still Harlem, you can choose to be Harlem#2445. This suffix appears in smaller, gray letters so that the visual focus is on the first part of the tag and not the added number.

Images of how these new Gamertags will look on Windows and Xbox One /

Now look, I’m all for giving folks new ways to create their own identity online. For example, the new support for Basic Latin, Latin-1 Supplement, Hangul, Katakana, Hiragana, CJK Symbols, Bengali, Devanagari, Cyrillic, and Thai characters is great. I even feel for the folks who want a cool Gamertag, but are forced to settle for their third or fourth choice because their original ideas were taken by other gamers. And I understand the pressure Microsoft is under to get new Gamertags flowing. After all, the company is hoping to lure millions of new users to Xbox Live through Project xCloud and Xbox on Windows.

However, to quote my dentist when I had to get a cavity filled but really wanted to stay away from drills, “That’s life.” If my Gamertag isn’t unique to me, it’s not a unique identifier. Or, put a different way, when everyone is special, no one is. Then there’s the flood of messages that some folks will no doubt get because someone mixed up their name with another Harlem or another Major Nelson, for example.

To me, this was a bad call.

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