The Obligatory WTT:[RP] Real ID Post

By | June 23, 2010

Everyone else is doing it, so why don’t we catch up to that there bandwagon and hop on? (Disclaimer: this is only my take on it. Yva’s and Bricu’s opinions/experiences may vary.)

Unless you’ve been away from the game, by now you’ve heard all about the new Real ID system Blizzard has implemented. If you haven’t heard about it, go read that page and the FAQ. We’ll wait.

Okay, good? So, if you’ve read those pages, you know a few things:

  • You have to choose to be someone’s Real ID friend, and vice versa.
  • Once you’re friends with someone, they will be able to see your real name (the one associated with your account.)
  • Once you’re friends with someone, they’ll be able to see when you’ve logged into WoW, Starcraft, and eventually Diablo3.
  • Your Real ID friends will be able to see which game you’re playing, which character you’re on, and where that character is.
  • You can set status messages, and mark yourself as “available,” “away,” and “busy.”
  • People will be able to see friends-of-friends in their lists. So if you’re Real ID friends with Bob, and Bob’s Real ID friends with Sally, but you and Sally are not Real ID friends, you and Sally will be able to see one another’s names through Bob’s friendslist.

A few things that aren’t covered in the FAQ:

  • While you and Sally can see one another’s names, that’s all the information you’ll receive about friends-of-friends. You can’t see the names of each other’s characters or their status messages unless you and Sally also become Real ID friends.
  • You do need to add friends by their email address, but that address isn’t displayed to friends-of-friends.

The lovely Anna has a nice write-up and discussion going. You should check out her post and the comments for well-informed, rational discussion.

I’m going to address an attitude I’m seeing a lot of in other discussions, and want to address here, as twitter’s too short, and I’m not going to hijack Anna’s comment thread. Ready?

I’ve seen a lot of people who LIKE the Real ID system basically telling those of us who DON’T to essentially QQ more. Most of those arguments go like this:

“If you trust people with your gtalk info/email info/phone number/AIM screenname etc, you should trust them with your Real ID.”

“Hey, noob, nothing is private on the internet anymore, so suck it up and move into the year 2010.”

“I’m comfortable telling people I don’t want to be their Real ID friend, so you should be too.”

“I’m comfortable telling my Real ID friends that I don’t want to do thing X, Y, or Z, so you should be, too.”

“If you don’t want to be disturbed, just set your status to ‘busy.’ If people can’t respect that, screw ‘em.”

I’m going to go ahead and unpack those, but before I do that, I want to put this out there: the biggest, most important reason I’m not going to use the Real ID system is this:

Sometimes, I just want to play on an anonymous alt. Real ID takes that ability away from me.

I can hear the counter-arguments now: “So don’t friend anyone who you wouldn’t share all of your alts’ names with.”

You want to know how many people that is?


I’m married to him.

Yva and I have been friends for over ten years now. I don’t think we’ll be friending one another because, well, I don’t need to know her anonymous alts, and she doesn’t need to know mine. If she creates a character on, say, Argent Dawn, and doesn’t ask me to create one with her, it’s because she wants some time to run around by herself and do her own thing. I don’t take it as a personal slight because it isn’t one.

That would be like me getting angry at her for going off to read a book, or to play DragonAge, or to watch a movie.

WoW is a social game, yes, absolutely. But sometimes, we want to do things in it alone and undisturbed, for any number of reasons.

Let me tell you a little bit about how I write: sometimes, when I’m stuck on a particular plot-snag, or can’t get a bit of dialogue quite the way I want it to sound, I do something that lets my brain go on autopilot for a while so I can mull it over. Sometimes I’ll take a walk. Sometimes I’ll fire up Popcap and play Bejeweled.

Sometimes, I’ll kill me some kobolds in Northshire.

When I’m doing that, I’m not going to want whispers from my Real ID friends, asking if I’d like some company on my baby rogue, or if I can go get Threnn and heal an heroic. I don’t and I can’t. Even though I’m logged into WoW, I’m busy writing.

Another situation: sometimes guilds and raids go through rough patches. It might not even be big, sweeping drama. Maybe you have a week where every time you log on, it feels like there are little fires that need putting out. Bob felt like a loot decision was unfair the previous night. Sally’s upset at her DPS numbers. Joe keeps breaking out the Piccolo of the Flaming Fire between pulls and it’s driving Marcie nuts.

During those times, even the most patient of officers might need a break from it all. The Real ID system means that even if you’re not logged into your officer-type character, people can see that you are still online.

Now, in both of these cases, I’m sure some people are thinking, “Just set the status to ‘busy.’ Simple as that.”

Except that’s not the point.

The point is, I want to be able to have a character, or two or three or ten, that no one else can see unless I decide to unmask them. If the silence starts bugging me, I want to be able to tell a couple of people, “Hey, it’s me,” without having to tell everyone. And those people might vary from Sekrit Alt to Sekrit Alt.

I can do that, as long as I don’t use the Real ID system at all, ever.

Which is unfortunate, as it has features I like, otherwise.

So, now that we’ve covered the alt-thing. Shall we peek into the other arguments?

“If you trust people with your gtalk info/email info/phone number/AIM screenname etc, you should trust them with your Real ID.”

Again, it’s about controlling what information people do or don’t have about you. No one can tell from my gtalk status what character I’m playing. I can let a phone call go to voice mail. And at any given time, I can turn off my phone or log out of gtalk/AIM if I don’t want to be disturbed. Even if you’ve got your Real ID set to ‘busy,’ people can still see that you’re online in the first place. There’s no way to turn this off aside from logging out of WoW or defriending everyone.

“Hey, noob, nothing is private on the internet anymore, so suck it up and move into the year 2010.”

Actually, some things are still private, and some people go to certain lengths to restrict what personal information is available. That’s their choice and their decision. You’re happy/comfortable with having your info out there — that’s great! There’s nothing wrong with that, either. But where is the hostility towards people who choose NOT to share things coming from?

“I’m comfortable telling people I don’t want to be their Real ID friend, so you should be too.”

It’s awesome that some people can be that assertive. I’m not being sarcastic here. For me, personally, I’m not that good at it. There’s someone on facebook I haven’t spoken to in years. I have no desire to reopen the lines of communication — we didn’t part on the best of terms. And yet, every few months, she hits me with a friend request. And every few months, I feel guilty when I click “ignore.”

Now I imagine someone with whom I’m casually acquainted, someone I genuinely like, discovering that we have a mutual Real ID friend. They shoot me a friend request. I decline it. Now I feel like a jerk, like I’ve hurt their feelings by saying, “I don’t trust you enough to have this information about me,” or “I’ll be friends with so-and-so, but not with you.”

Is that irrational? Should I have a thicker skin about it? Should I insist that other people suck it up and accept the “no”?

You know what?


No to all of those. That’s not my style, and I’m not going to chalk it up to some real-life character flaw. I care about how people feel, and I know some people who’d be upset if I declined a friend request. Until I can turn off the ability for my name to pop up in friends-of-friends lists, I’m choosing to eliminate that problem altogether by not using Real ID at all.

“I’m comfortable telling my Real ID friends that I don’t want to do thing X, Y, or Z, so you should be, too.”

Darlin’, I have a hard enough time saying no to the people I’ve known for years — people who would be (and, when I muster up the courage, ARE) okay with me saying no. So if I’m goofing off in Dalaran doing a big fat nothing and someone on my Real ID list asks me to come heal something, I will have a hard time saying no. Even if I’m not in the mood to heal.

Again, that’s my personality. It’s a good thing that there are other people out there who are unfazed by saying no. I’m not one of them. Therefore, Real ID adds yet another level of stress for me in that capacity.

“If you don’t want to be disturbed, just set your status to ‘busy.’ If people can’t respect that, screw ‘em.”


/deep breath


Okay, I’m better now. Again, see the above points. We’ve already established that I’m terrible at telling anyone to just deal with something. And as I mentioned in Anna’s comments thread, half the time when I set my gtalk status to “do not disturb,” people message me anyway. Usually, it’s not a huge deal. I realize that, if I absolutely need peace and quiet, the only way to guarantee I’m not disturbed is to not be logged into gtalk at all. Or to at least fire up ye olde gmail/gchat and set my status to invisible.

But if people will ignore my “Leave me alone, I’m writing” on gtalk, why would they heed a “Leave me alone” in WoW? I mean, the former is me actually trying to put something together that I can sell. The latter is me facerolling my way through an instance, or participating in RP. Neither of which are going to bring about world peace or line my pockets.

This is all a very long-winded way of saying this:

For me, the flaws with the Real ID system aren’t about controlling who has my personal information, they’re about controlling my accessibility.

I’m not afraid of people seeing my name, which is what a lot of the Real ID supporters seem to suggest. Honest to god, I’m not. Nothing about Real ID scares me, or has me quaking in my virtual boots. Disliking something isn’t the same as fearing it, and I’m starting to really resent the suggestion that because I’m not using it, I’m paranoid/stupid/not hip to how the internet works.

I’d use the Real ID system if:

  1. I could opt-out of my name showing up on friends-of-friends lists.
  2. I could control on a character-by-character basis which characters were visible to my friends. (You have to turn on equipment manager and the talent points confirmation on a per-character basis. Why can’t you do the same with Real ID?)
  3. I could set my status to offline/invisible.

Until/unless those options are made available, I won’t be using the service.


Tryston on June 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm.

I found, after a great deal of thought, that RealID will be something that has utterly no use to me in regards to WoW play. Everyone that could potentially need to contact me has a number of means to do so: GTalk for a select few, the realm forums, the TRI forums, or the Rider boards, Facebook, etc.

A use for it that Jackie and I are both quite interested in is for the people we do not play WoW with. Friends who are going to play Starcraft 2, or Diablo 3, who we would love to have more avenues of communication with. For me, running out of game messenger conversations while running WoW gets hectic, so having something built into the game that I can use to talk to my SC2 buddies or Diablo gamers appeals… but only for that reason.

Teuthida on June 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm.

I’d settle for #2 and #3! But you have nailed it: accessibility is the key here, not privacy per se. I remain undecided on Real ID; I may give it a whirl, but its utility for me depends on which of my friends are using it, of course, and since most of us are pretty well agreed that it’s not so great without an invisible feature and a “private alts” feature at the least (and I wouldn’t mind being able to sign up under the name of “Ovistine Lighthammer”, either — a name that people would actually recognize rather than one that makes most of them go “eh?”, even if they’ve been raiding with me for years), it may not be much good for me just yet.

I hold out some hope that they’ll implement the invisible feature, at least. We’ll see!

Corise on June 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm.

This pretty much sums up my feelings about the feature in a nutshell. I know some of my friends (who are, in fact, my real-life friends who know my name and email and all that sort of thing) are using RealID, and I feel a little bad for telling them that I don’t feel comfortable with it… but the thing is, if any of those real-life friends (and quite a few of my closest online friends) want to get in touch with me? They know most of my alts already (most of my public alts are in at least one RP channel). They have my email addresses and IM info. We post on several of the same forums. A few of them follow my twitter feed. And some of them have my actual phone number. If they can’t get in touch with me in any of those ways? I probably don’t want anyone getting in touch with me at all at the moment.

Also, I don’t want folks I might not know (friends of friends) to be able to see my real name in-game like that. Yeah, it’s probably a silly and irrational reservation on my part. Yeah, if someone was determined enough, they could track down that information and more from other sources online. That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want my real name associated quite so closely and immediately with my WoW characters.

Itanya Blade on June 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm.

Oh hell woman, I really hope that those things you listed came out of our conversation. When I broached you about the topic of Real ID, I was just asking. Hell, I totally understand not wanting to do it. For the way I play, it is not a big deal. I don’t have secret alts, mostly because I simply seem to be able to play WoW and not tell people.

I have no problems with a large portion of my friends having my Real ID. I also don’t feel slighted when friends don’t want me to have their Real ID. It’s a bloody choice, for god’s sake.

I know that a lot of people keep saying ‘I have them on my gtalk, or they have my phone #.” The thing is, I like the ease of not having to tab out of game to talk to those people. People need to make their own decisions and their friends need to respect that decision.