Thursday, July 8, 2010

Failing in trying not to think about it

I’m trying desperately to bring myself move along and stop thinking about the Real ID issue. Like Dwism I don’t want to write another post about it. But right now I can’t think about anything else, so I’m sorry, here’s another post where I’ll share what’s worrying me, just to blow off some steam and hopefully get it out of my system.

Starting tomorrow I’m really going to try to talk about something completely different. Like what I think about the announcement about the changes of the talent trees. I know this is big news, well worth a discussion. But right now I just can’t focus on it. So just skip this post if you can’t stand reading any more about it. I don’t blame you.

A moral/religious argument?
I’m actually a bit surprised at my own reaction. You see, normally I’m quite quick when I get some sort of major bad news. I tend to sweep through the phases of Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression at warp speed, eagerly to get to Acceptance, where focus on finding solutions that will work for me. I always look forward, heading for action rather than allowing myself to sink into pointless self-pity. So I’m a little bit annoyed with myself for not just letting it go.

I can’t quite pinpoint what’s making me so depressed about this. Tim Howgego wrote in a comment to my previous post that this is the death of “Gandalf”, the avatar separated from your human self. If I understand him, the “real me” will be “inhabiting a piece of intellectual property owned by a corporate god. And in this case, not a terribly benevolent god”. Which leads us into a moral/religious argument.

Tim is a very thoughtful, but not entirely easy-to-understand thinker and I’m not sure I’m following what he’s trying to say here. But I’m looking forward to see him develop his thoughts a bit further on his blog. It throw some light over why the Real ID issue becomes such a Big Thing.

Breaking the illusion
One voice in me says: Larísa! Pull yourself together. Now. There is a simple solution. If you don’t want to leave the game – because you still expect to have some fun in it, especially in Cataclysm – you can always retire from the community. Stop reading forums, Stop blogging. Just get away from it all. Keep logging into the game. Bring the Westfall NPCs their snouts, go and give Arthas what he deserves, just don’t bother about anything that is going on outside of it. That should help you to forget about the whole thing.

And another voice says: it’s too late. Because what they’ve done is to break the illusion about that you’re slipping into a fantasy world where everything is possible, where you’re putting on another costume and doing something completely different to your everyday life, that no one else knows anything about. An alternative world.

I understood a bit more about what’s troubling me so much when I stumbled upon one of those thousands and thousands of protest posts at the EU forums, namely number 9090. Among many other thoughtful things, my fellow mage Valdu pinpoints the difference between Social Network users and gamers:

“Social Network users and Gamers do not mix, and forcing it will create an emulsion, rather than a solution.

Game heads don't care about Facebook, or social networking. Sure, they might use the services, but when in 'gamer mindset', they care far more about melting faces, and beating the crap out of their fellow players then engaging with them via swapping pictures of their cats.

Gamer and gaming culture uses nicks, aliases, handles and avatars to communicate - always have, always will.”
And he continues:

“When entering a game environment, gamers are generally looking for a temporary break from real life, a little bit of escapism from the humdrum daily routine. A change to be something, or someone else for a time.

- When I launch World of Warcraft, I do not want to be Frank Winterbottom of Dundee, who is a tax clerk for the Council. - I don't want to fight The Lich King as Sheila Shufflebottom of Birmingham, who is a supermarket checkout assistant.

I want to do all the above as Valdudoza, Fire Mage! Citizen of Azeroth, member of the Uberleet FullOfWinz Guild!!! (no I'm neither and I've never fought Arthas.. it was just an example, before any pedants wee on my bonfire).

Neither do I want Percy Snodkins of Wakefield to cover my ass and take hits for me with his immortal sword and shield, and I don't want Veronica Pothelthwaite of Barnsley to heal my ass when it gets burned and blasted.

... get where I'm going with this? Do I need to elaborate any further?

Social networking and gamer culture DO NOT MIX! PERIOD!”
The issue about this is not just what’s going to happen with the official forums. It’s about what direction the game will take when it becomes more and more integrated with Facebook. Finally it’s beginning to dawn upon the community that something is going to change. We don’t know exactly how it will end, but this is probably, as Spinksville points out, a paradigm shift.

And I don’t like it. Not at all.

Not ready to come out
It’s been a strange week indeed. And a little bit contradictory here at the inn.

It began so well. I wrote happily about my coming out as an older player, how I stood by the stage at a rock festival, ignoring the strange looks I got, and how I never hide my age or gender in game. I got a huge response on the post, many other older gamers standing up, doing high five and cheering. I felt strengthened.

The very next day they broke the news about the changes to the forums. And ironically enough this announcement is also about “coming out”, but this time as a gamer.

And suddenly I found myself on the opposite side. I may be ready to come out among players or concert visitors, showing myself as a middle-aged woman, but I’m obviously not ready to come out in my real life as a WoW-player.

There’s still a social stigma to it. Maybe I’m a little bit ashamed. Maybe just concerned about my own safety. But apparently I didn’t have the guts to stand up for my gamer identity when it mattered. I wasn’t prepared. And it feels like a bit like a personal failure.

I feel ashamed about feeling ashamed.

I can’t help wishing that I was like some of the other bloggers and podcasters who openly write under their real life names and don’t see any reason to hide. But isn’t it easier of you’re already working in the gaming industry – or hoping to one day make a career in it? I would think so.

It’s been a sad week. Tonight I hope to venture into Ruby Sanctum for the first time. I expect some crazy dancing to avoid standing in fires and I’m pretty sure that it will keep me focused and make me forget about all this crap.

And hopefully this will be the last Real ID whine post you see on this blog for a good while.

Thanks for listening. Now I'll starting looking into that talent tree....

32 comments:

spinksville said...

I know you have said before that you sometimes feel that because you mostly play WoW, you have felt awkward about talking about other games.

But the fact you feel so strongly about this shows that you really are deep into gamer culture. That one game was enough. It's the same sadness/ betrayal that many other gamers are feeling, and many of them don't know why. They only know that they aren't alone.

I guess what I'm saying is that you do come out as a gamer every time you post, and never more than in this article. (One of us :) )

tufva said...

I completely agree with those that mourn the loss of the fantastic by moving to real names. I am not too fussed about my name being seen on WoW forums per se, even though it may be somewhat distinctive.

What I really loathe is what you quoted from the forums - the loss of the fantasy part of the game. The immersion. Ever since I started reading fairytales as a little girl I have loved the idea of magic, duelling with swords and all that. I'm not a role player, but there is still that idea that you log into another world where you can do things you cannot do in this mundane world.

In that world I am Tuf (even when I'm playing Maieve, Eira or Kyrienne) - that is my identity and I don't want that immersion broken by real names.

Spinks hit it on the head with the paradigm shift. It'll be a sad day if they don't back down.

megabitch said...

It's got sod all to do with being ashamed to be a gamer.

When you chose to "come out" as a middle-aged female (I'm one of them as weel *g*) you _chose_ to do this. No-one forced it upon you. No-one said to you "you can only continue going to concerts if you make a spectacle of yourself so that no-one is in any doubt that you are there to enjoy yourself and not because your teenage kid dragged you along" for example.

Activision just took away that choice regarding "coming out" as a gamer. I know my teenage son takes a bit of flak from his school friends that know his mother and step-father not only play WoW but have multiple 80s, but it was his choice (and ours to some extent) to share that info with them. Not Activision's.

While I am not cancelling my account (yet) I am watching this very very closely and the first hint that RealID will be required for any in-game purpose, I'm gone. This whole thing has pissed me off so much that I haven't even been able to bring myself to log in today. I keep thinking "what's the point of putting any effort in if they're going to force me into a decision where I might quit and delete the lot?"

Analogue said...

I find it very hypocritical for those with common names to condemn us unusually-named folk for fear or losing our anonymity, and for those who work in the gaming industry to tell us mundanes to suck it up and get a job somewhere that doesn't mind gamers.

I find it incredibly annoying that the revealed wisdom for years has been "afraid people won't take you seriously because you're female/minority/weird religion/fourteen? Don't tell them, we're on the internet, pick a user name that doesn't reveal anything about you".

Now those same people - the ones who have shown themselves totally oblivious to the real issues underlying each of those points up til now - are telling us to grow a thicker skin.

That's one of the things that bugs me, the conflicts in what appears to be a happy little community that lie just under the surface. As disturbing as RealID is, all the stuff it's made me have to face in the last few days is just as disturbing. Maybe Blizzard did us a favor...

KiwiRed said...

I'm not ashamed to be a gamer, it just has no connection to my RL identity, a separation that has been by design. WoW has been a place of refuge, where I could move beyond a quietly miserable RL existence and live a life, virtual though it may be, of adventure, magic and discovery.

It's the reality facing me, of losing this refuge, which has upset me most - indeed, it's going to be challenging to move past it. After all, there really never has been anything like WoW for me, and I'm sure I'm not the only player who will be left with a WoW-shaped space in their life after we leave the game. Other games are just games; while WoW is also 'simply a game', it has been more than that because of what I was able to invest of myself emotionally into my characters, and in the friendships I formed on my travels.

I guess it's time to look for a substitute; I don't think there's a replacement.

SpiritusRex said...

Nice post, Larisa - the EU mage you quoted has hit the nail on the head. I sit here trying to write something witty, snarky and irreverent directed at Blizz, but cannot. Being so unabashedly frustrated by this topic, I find myself lacking the mental energy to properly comment. Shame on you, Blizzard, for taking the joy out of the game for many of us.

SpiritusRex

Lars said...

One of Norways biggest papers writes about the RealID changes today:

http://www.dagbladet.no/2010/07/08/kultur/spill/world_of_warcraft/pc-spill/onlinespill/12476354/

Vigorless Fragmentary said...

I think one needs to differ also between the effects Real ID will have on the game experience side vs. real life side. the way I see it, I find the impact on the gaming alter ego just as bad as the revealing of real life data on the inet.
the latest post over at RO deals with these side-effects quite accurately and while 'Andy Smith', the white caucasian male from florida might not care about the change, his opinion is worth very little.
http://www.righteousorbs.com/?p=2098

Tesh said...

Larisa, there's a world of difference between you stepping up and "coming out" at that concert as an "old person" and this RealID mentality. The former, you chose to do on your own, unashamed of who you are. The latter is a choice made for you against your judgement.

In my mind, there is no shame in being uncomfortable with that. If anything, I'd suggest that the appropriate response is to be irate if not worse.

Pai said...

I'm also sad that WoW in recent years has become more of a 'multiplayer game with a graphical lobby you hang out in while waiting for Dungeonfinder to pop' and less of a 'fantasy ROLEPLAYING game'. Blizzard wants to cut the 'RPG' out of their MMO, and that is hard for those of us that really love RPGs first and foremost.

A lot of people who play WoW, however, are 'gamers' and 'Blizz fans'. A lot of them dislike RPG conventions like 'having to walk somewhere' or 'reading the storyline'. This is why WoW has a more hostile environment to RPers compared to other MMORPGs. Blizzard has been 'streamlining' gameplay for those types of players, not for the longtime MMORPG fan who is nowadays a minority compared to them.

Joar said...

I really hope that rather than canceling their accounts and moving on to something else, that the WoW community will instead just migrate the forum piece of the community to another venue. Whether that is Elitist Jerks or MMO-Champion or something created by some new enterprising group to fill the void, it seems like that is a reasonable enough solution.

And for those situations where you are looking for a blue response to a question, maybe it's just a matter of following all the blasted gold spammers - create a trial account under some fictional name and post to the forums under that.

Or maybe the folks from the "new" community forums pick someone from the group with a completely common name to post to the official WoW forums - so all their questions start coming from Dave Smith and Bob Jones.

Anonymous said...

The talent trees were released way too early to distract the community from the RealID issue. There's nothing of substance to look at yet.

Back in the day, when I started playing WoW, it was an MMORPG. RPG for Role Playing Game. I don't want to play me. I get to do that at work on a daily basis.. and I don't need to pay a subscription to do so.

Bri said...

The person standing next to you at the rock concert can't find your house or your employer with 3 clicks of a mouse, though.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Larissa! Love your blog. If you haven't already seen it, here's the link to a very well-written open letter to Blizzard regarding the RealID issue.

http://greyshades.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/an-open-letter-to-blizzard/

Miss Medicina said...

I am sharing a sad drink with you in the Inn too, Larisa.

I can't bring myself to post anything not related to RealID. There were a lot of things Blizz has done in the past with which I didn't agree... but nothing has depressed me this much.

For me, I think it's due to the fact that I really liked this company. I loved the Blues, and cared about them. I really appreciated the work this company did, and the game they provided for me that I love.

And now i just feel completely at a loss. I feel betrayed. I feel ashamed and embarassed about feeling betrayed. How could I have been so foolish to put so much love, trust, and faith in this company?

I feel like a friend of mine just sold me out. And that's why I'm failing in trying not to think about it :(

Markco said...

If you are a good blogger who does nice things for the community than you should not worry about this change.

It's going to be annoying deleting facebook spam but there are reprecussions for harrassment even on the internet.

I'll be happy to continue providing great content both on the forums and my blog under my real name. In fact, I see this change as a great way to get rid of bloggers who tend to cross the line thanks to the anonymous nature of the internet.

Steve Hall said...

I don't like RealID; I protested it from the very beginning (i.e., when it was first announced we'd have to get battle.net accounts to keep playing). "It's not like the old B.Net!" I was told.

Horsefeathers. Okay...it's not like the old B.Net. IT IS WORSE BY FAR!

I hate to say "I told you so" (and not, of course, directly to you, Larísa!), but...I told you so.

However, one thing to keep in mind with RealID is that it is 100 percent "opt-in." I wasn't missing a thing before RealID: No one I know on another server is so close to me that I feel the need to add RealID friends.

The only people I "know" on other servers are other bloggers--and they either have or can get my email address, Twitter ID, and my website. Furthermore, if they have my Twittername, they have my real name.

Bottom line: Just say no to RealID in any form. Remove all your RealID friends, and obviously don't post in the official forums. If RealID isn't used, then, and only then, might Blizzard get a clue.

Talarian said...

Activision-Blizzard is a company, first and foremost, and reading more about Bobby Kotick and his vision for Battle.net and seeing his vision coming to light as we speak, I've lost any illusion that Blizzard is actually an independant entity any longer. So, being a company, the only language they speak is money, and that is why if you want to send a message to Activision-Blizzard the only recourse is to stop giving them money. And as such, I'm quitting the game and letting them know in very straightforward language that I am opposed to this cavalier attitude around our PII (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personally_identifiable_information) and that I will not be purchasing any of their products in the future as long as this attitude remains.

My thoughts on this can be pretty much summed as, pardon the language, "Fuck this noise."

Talarian said...

Ugh, I love blogger, that wikipedia link was supposed to go to PII (just search for PII on wiki).

Admin said...

Wow...just wow that is probably the most well written explanation I have read in quite sometime, it has made me rethink my position on RealID. I can understand a little more why people are concerned.

I do not for one moment think you failed as a gamer. I have always made my gaming life very public..because it's who I am, cut me and dice pour out. It has cost me in my career and personal relationships, some people just can't accept that when all my responsibilities are done for the day I become Jadden Hammerfall Paladin of the light, or one of the many other persona I adapt.

I wish...sincerely wish that I could say something that would make you feel better about this, but I don't know what is really going to happen.

I will say that this has if any thing brought our community closer but not in the way Activision intend I'm afraid.

Best Regards
Jeff
companyofthewolf.org

Pai said...

I suggest folks read this history of Activision+Blizzard: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=128252

I think it makes things clear as to where the game and company are headed. Blizzard is not the same company anymore, and we're realizing now how much they've changed for the worse.

Anonymous said...

In the leather world (sadomasochism for those in doubt), discretion is a virtue. Each person needs to make their own decisions about how they relate to the wider world... when, how, to whom and how much they share. Those who are "out" are admired for their courage yet those who aren't are respected since we all lead different lives and each of us should be free to choose our path. The impact of being out and the appetite each of us has for the consequences varies so what might be no problem for one can easily be disasterous for another.

It's not a personal failing if you decide not to share your game interests with your work or civic community. Sharing every aspect of one's self with anybody whose path happens to cross ours is no virtue. Rather, it's a bit selfish.

Bristal said...

One powerful way to break down social stigma is to come out. Tell people you play. Share your enthusiasm. Ignore the surprised looks and just tell them what you love about it.

Give them YOUR face as representative of gamers, and not what the media has told them.

Maybe we should have a PARADE every year!

I'm 47. I work in a hospital. I tell everyone who cares to hear about my enthusiasm for WoW. I also mountain bike, snowboard, run marathons and garden.

Sure I'm a nerd, but in my circle, nerds look like fit health professionals, not like unemployable 24 year old drop outs who don't feed their kids.

Personally, I think RealID is potentially a positive step for gamers. Albeit not one without some risk for both Blizzard and it's subscribers.

But risk is often what we're after in gaming, right?

NaturalGamerGirl said...

I feel your pain about not being able to 'get over it'. I am the same, especially when it comes to a video game... where I get over stuff quickly. "What? They just completely nerfed holy priest MT healing?! Eh, I will work with it and learn to raid heal."

I think this proves that this is a big f-ing deal. I really hope other gaming companies learn from this horrible example, because like you mentioned, I fear that this has 'broken the illusion', not only for WoW but ANY Blizzard/Activision game. For years, I have been so immersed in WoW culture... I have a blog, run our guild's website, have WoW-themed scrapbook pages. Hell, even my desktop is a SS from Grizzly Hills. Now I do also go outside, but in my off-time, I was completely into it.

But the past few days when I logged in, it felt like just a game. I really feel like I am clicking buttons. I feel like I have been played and am pissed about it, yet I am staying with the bastard. I feel extremely let down.

Perdissa said...

The post you quoted put into voice something I have been feeling since real ID but have not been able to articulate.

Indeed, I dislike real names when playing the game, unless I have known the person in-game with that name from the start, or if he insists on that name being used. Recently, one of my real life friends who is in my guild invited me to use real ID. I was initially of the mind that I will not be using this feature at all, but since it is someone I have known for 15 years, I felt it was fine. But damn, it is SO weird seeing that "realname" has come online instead of his avatar. Because of this, I declined to use real ID with my other RL friends in-game.

Similarly, although I have known people in this guild for almost 3 years, I shy away from guild outings because I feel that somehow, seeing them in person will shatter the illusion I build up when we band up as heroes to kill dragons.

I thought I was nuts, but it seems I'm not alone.

Pai said...

@Perdissa: No. you're not the only one. I started feeling this way once DungeonFinder was released, actually.

WoW is an odd MMORPG, in that much if it's playerbase openly reviles RP, immersion, lore, and other things that used to be 'givens' among MMORPG players. I never minded that WoW was 'RPG-Lite', but I think it's crossing the line slowly into 'Not a RPG at all'.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

http://mmomfg.com/2010/07/08/south-korean-law-real-id-0708/

May be related, not sure.

Perdissa said...

I almost spilt my coffee (ok a drop of it landed on my sleeve) when I was reading the NYT when I saw that this issue has been mentioned.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/what-were-reading-ipad-magic/?hpw

But... WTF is this about dark elves???

Larísa said...

@Spinksville: Thank you Spinks. When I read your comment it brought tears to my eyes for some reason. After all this time maybe I AM a gamer. The ironic question is: for how long more. I don’t say I’m ragequitting because of this tomorrow day but as I said: it feels as if some spell has been lifted and the illusion is gone. Something happened. It could mean that I’m drifting away from all of this. But it might be something that passes. Maybe I’ll get spellbound again in a few months. I’m biding my time, waiting.

@Tufva: Yeah I agree. We’ve had a lot of discussions about immersion – or rather the lack of immersion in WoW. Many have complained and they’ve had many good points. However – I still think we had more of it than we realized until this happened.

@Megabitch: I think you have a point there. You want to take the step to come out, not being forced to it. And yeah, you could say that participating in the forums is voluntary, but since it’s the major channel for communicating with Blizzard, it’s not that easy to completely opt out of it.

@Analogue: Spot on!

@KiwiRed: ” I'm sure I'm not the only player who will be left with a WoW-shaped space in their life after we leave the game.”. Exactly. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m so upset. I’ve been so passionate, so in love with this game and now I realize that it might be coming to an end. If this happens, I know I’ll get over it, eventually. But it will be very, very empty to begin with.

@SpiritusRex: Yeah, it was a very good post. I found it as I followed a blue-tracker thing. There was some blue response very close to that post (as a reply to someone else). That’s how I found it. He wrote that he thought that noone would read it and I thought that this post was
deserved a little bit of attention, whatever I could provide.

@Lars: Thanks! I haven’t seen anything in Sweden yet. Will keep my eyes open.

@Vigorless Fragmentary: Oh, I’m a huge fan of Righteous Orbs. It was very well put there!

@Tesh: I suppose that it WOULD be of benefit to the gaming world if people like me were willing to be open about it. It could help out the image a bit – even though it at the same time might scare off some teenagers who don’t think it’s cool to have the same hobby as their grandmother…. However – being that face should be a voluntary thing. I agree with that.

@Pai: I can’t see why it has to be one thing or another. I love to live the fantasy and I love to learn the tricks and moves in a boss fight. However I don’t want to appear under my real name – and I don’t think those who are pure “gamers” not interested in RP want to do that either.
And thanks for that link about Blizzard-Activision history. Loads of interesting stuff there.

@Joar: I saw a mentioning at MMO champion that he’s considering to build out the forum section somehow to cater to the needs due to the changes at the official forums. He wasn’t very clear on the plans, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something happened there.

@Anonymous: ” I don't want to play me.”. Sign on that!

@Bri: True.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous 2: No, I hadn’t seen it! Great post, on the same lines as the one I quoted from the forum thread.

@Miss Medicina: Yeah, that’s my feelings too. And I know that many players have reached that stage far, far earlier, thinking that Blizzard lost their soul years ago. But I wasn’t one of those. As I’ve written many times before in my blog: I wanted to believe. I had trust in them. I was a fan girl. Really. And now? It feels empty.

@Markco: I’m not sure what you mean about deleting facebook spam. I don’t have Facebook myself, not Twitter either. I’m not into those social platforms at all. So it isn’t integrated into my blog. I don’t understand what you mean about getting rid of bloggers who tend to cross the line thanks to anonymity. As a blogger you can keep being anonymous. Activision may be powerful but as far as I know of they have no power over Blogger/Wordpress etc.

@Steve Hall: yeah. I used to say that too. I didn’t understand the fuss about in-game Real ID friends since it’s voluntary to give out your e-mail. But bringing it in as a condition to post on the forums… I think that puts it into another league. Not quite as voluntary anymore.

@Talarian: I’m not there yet but I understand your decision. Well… in the end ALL companies are in it to make profit. But there are different ways to do it and I think Activision-Blizzard is making it wrong here.

@Jeff: Thank you very much for your appreciation! I know you’ve taken a different position in this – and it’s very understandable if you’re open about your name yourself and are in a different life situation. However – it’s great that you’re open minded and willing to listen to and respect the concerns other players have. I suppose that it’s this kind of civilized discussion climate that they’d like to create on the forums by this measure. I’m afraid though that it might not happen since so many of those who could contribute in that kind of discussions will opt out from it.

@Anonymous 3: hehe… I’m not sure if gaming is on par with sadomasochism when it comes to how socially accepted it is. But nevertheless – the comparison is relevant.

@Bristal: Gamer’s parade á la the Pride Parades that we at least have in Europe? Walking with headsets and battery driven laptops? I can appreciate your radicalism, but nevertheless I think they really risk to put off a lot of the older players by this measure, taking a step backwards from the ground they had gained when they reached new target groups, people like me.

@NaturalGamerGirl: Exactly my feeling. It feels as if something died here. And I think that’s one of the reasons why the outcry is so loud.

@Perdissa: You’re definitely not alone. About the NYT link: I think the dark elf thing was just because they wanted so badly to link to that video. A rather typical sterotype thing where you ridicule gamers, in my opinion. Sure, I can show self irony and laugh at myself and my childishness, but I want that kind of joking to come from people who are gamers themselves, from the inside sort of. When someone posts it to point fingers from an outside perspective it just pisses me off a bit.

@Pangoria Fallstar: I wonder if they’d take such measures just to please Korea. It seems like a huge sacrifice to do for just one market. But it’s really appalling nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

Most of my family, friends and co-workers know that I play WoW, which I get teased about occasionally, but it's all in good humour. A couple of my RL friends play as well, and we did start using the Real ID system (largely for the bright blue, hard to miss whispers). I have no need to hide that I am a WoW player or a gamer from the people I interact with on a daily basis, and they've sort of learned to accept "raiding" as an excuse to miss social events :P

On the in-game side of things, my guild is very friendly and close, many of us have each other's emails, real names, and even added each other on Facebook. What I think is really cool though, is that we still use our character names to talk to each other, in guild chat, on vent, and in anything that's part of the game. No matter how well we know each other in RL, we are still the devious rogues, noble paladins, and facemelting priests in Azeroth. I think it's great that we have this atmosphere without any rules or agreements, because frankly I'd be uncomfortable if someone used my real name when asking me to tank the daily. I know my friends and guildmates would probably feel the same. (We are not roleplayers, just a regular raiding guild on PvE server.)

I think Blizzard imagines that people like me, who communicate with their friends both in WoW and in RL, "the Facebook generation" as some call it would benefit from what they are doing. However, I am furious at it. When I tell RL friends that I play WoW, I want it to be MY choice. I'm cool with telling extended family and potential/current employers if it comes up. I'm cool with telling a really good friend from WoW my email or adding them on MSN/Facebook. But these are the people I like, and chose to trust with my personal details. For as long as I keep playing WoW, I will see it as a fantasy world (hell, WORLD is in the name of the game!) where making a character that's not you is a huge part of the gameplay.

Being forced to comment on forums with your real name is sort of like having to walk down the street with your driver's licence stapled to your forehead.

Anonymous said...

"Social networking and gamer culture DO NOT MIX! PERIOD!”"

The problem is that Blizzard sees all the grandmas and such playing Farmville and thinks, "those people are gaming... how can we reach out to them and have them play our game too?" They want the money. All of it. And that's what companies do. I think the only illusion here is that we forgot it for a time (leading up to this) :/

No one should really have been surprised. Almost every MMO has been wrecked by management decisions that drove the players away. Can WoW avoid that forever? Doubtful.