Today we’re going to look at Real ID through the eyes of many of our other brothers and sisters in gaming. I think I’ve made myself fairly clear on where I stand on the issue, but a lot of that has been done via Twitter rather than the blog. So I’m going to share with you some more of my “wonderful” MS Paint skills to describe the views of many and also go ahead and clarify my stance for those that don’t follow me on Twitter.
Comic: RIDK (Real ID Knife)
The little comic up above there is my interpretation of the feelings of many people that I talk to in the WoW, Twitter, and blogging community. It’s my own interpretation of course, and I think it’s pretty fitting given the circumstances that we’re in. We thought they were handing us a spiffy new toy (some saw the slippery slope, others did not), and then all of a sudden we got stabbed in the back with something huge.
I think Blizzard did pull out the old Rogue spell of Shadowstep on many of their customers. They came at us with a spiffy new tool/toy that really appealed to a lot of people (such as myself) while making quite a few others a bit wary and nervous as well. And while we were looking at it and deciding whether it was something to embrace or reject we found that Real ID knife in our backs and they made a complete 180 from “share this with people you know and trust” to “we’re making it public on the forums”.
For me that was a “Wait! What?!?” kind of moment. I still don’t quite understand how we went from this being something to share with close friends to something we’re making public and for no valid (to me) reason. While I’m still not worried much on a personal leveling (anything can happen, even to me), I do see the huge risk this is for a lot of people.
I’ve talked with people online and people in my guild and there’s a pretty big split. And it’s true that women do tend more towards the side of caution/outrage on this issue than men, as do people of various cultures and ethnic groups. I don’t think there’s anything we can do about that part of it to be quite honest. Can you fight Blizzard on this issue and try to get them to change their minds? I certainly think you can try. Will it work? I have no idea to be perfectly honest with you. If you feel the need to fight it though, then I encourage you to do so.
Where Psynister Stands
For me, I don’t have a big problem with RID. Though there are about 250 people in the US with my name, I’m really not all that hard to track down because the information that I’ve made available online leaves a pretty easy trail to follow. I do fall into the “safety bracket” of being a white male between 18 and 40, and according to some that fits me right in with the crowd of people that don’t really care because we feel the least threatened by it. But that’s just me.
I still stand firm on my belief that Real ID as an in-game communication tool is great, and when used as it was described to us there’s nothing to worry about. As with any other tool though, the tool itself can be completely innocent while the person using that tool can be anything but. I don’t mind giving out my name and email address from an in game perspective because I have security placed on my account and I’m comfortable sharing that kind of information with people anyway.
I also maintain that a name by itself holds no power. People often look at that one sentence when I bring it up and then dismiss or assume that I’m blind to the rest of what that entails, but I assure you that’s not the case. If you’ve left any other information out on the internet that ties your name into other information, then you are open to being attacked if people find your name. Before I was a part of the WoW community I was part of several other communities and was much more clueless on the whole privacy issue and how easily people could be tracked online. Because of those mistakes I made when I was younger, it’s not hard to find the real me.
As we move on to the most recent form of Real ID though, having your real name on the WoW forums, I think Blizzard has gone too far and for no legitimate reason. This change will not fix the problem that they claim that it will. Instead it will cause more problems, just of a different variety.
Does that mean I’m going to head for the hills? Am I going to cancel my subscription and stop playing the game? No, it doesn’t. At least, not right now. I don’t use the WoW forums, so their change means nothing to me on a personal level. But there’s nothing saying they couldn’t take this to a new level and do other things with it that could push me beyond that point. I’m an open guy, but even I have my limits.
Changes to the game are what will push me away from playing it, not changes in the forums. If WoW stops being an enjoyable game and turns into a circus of stupidity (from my perspective, not yours), then I’m gone. With the information we have right now though, I’ll stay where I’m at and keep on trucking with honest enthusiasm for Cataclysm.
So as of right now, I’m not particularly threatened and I’m going to wait a while to see what else comes of this. If it keeps going along the same lines it is right now then I think I’ll probably stick around, but if they push just a little too much in the right/wrong directions then I’ll be joining the thousands of others that are cancelling their subscriptions. If WoW turns into Facebook, I’m out.