The WoW and realID debacle has been covered by a lot better bloggers than I. Broken Toys, which has the dubious honor of posting less than I do on a game binge, has no less than 3 posts. Tesh, Drew, Spinks, and others have all written on it. The only one I think that hasn’t is Syp, and only because he is on vacation.
Rather than go over it abstract reasons why, I want to give my own personal example of why it might be a bad idea. It’s about my time in Champions Online.
In Champions Online, I used to roleplay a lot. I got in with the wrong crowd though, and did way too much ERP for my own good. It wasn’t all I did, and I enjoyed playing joke characters and more normal ones, but part of the reason I left, and why I’m no longer a roleplayer, was that. It’s a surprisingly easy pit to fall into, but I’ll leave most of the details out of it.
What happened was I met a girl roleplaying. We both knew and were dealing with drama from a third party, and us getting together was because of that. It never went beyond chat, but we both weren’t a good match.
She had a condition which was called Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s a condition that’s hard to describe, but the person who has it has difficulty with relationships. I failed her a lot: I am easy to relate to but not good at deep links with people, and was probably the worst choice to be with her. The drama with the other person threw us together though.
What BPD people do, and they can’t control it, is make demands. We always argued over things. She constantly demanded I leave my supergroup, and always saw it as an enemy. Even joining it didn’t help. If I was late or doing something, I got read the riot act even if it was something where I would drop it and only take five minutes to be with her.
A lot of it was me, too. In any case it was an incredibly toxic net relationship. BPD sufferers can go into rages and harangue you, and in the next hour be completely fine like it never happened. They are incredibly afraid of abandoment, perceiving even the slightest thing to be such. A lot of this too was my fault, because I wasn’t the strongest person to break it off or realize how serious it was. She had another player I called her “puppy.” He followed her around even when she berated him hardcore, and I’m talking brutal. The saddest thing is she couldn’t help it.
I finally broke it off, to the point of leaving my SG and playing an alt, being mostly by myself. She found an SG member and last I know they were together. I quit after, for a few reasons including this.
If Real ID existed in Champions Online, she would know my real name, because I always post in game forums.
This is the girl who got banned temporarily for haranguing other SG members in shout. This is the girl who would threaten others with digging up their secrets and hacking them. It wasn’t her meaning it, but all the same she would fly into a rage easily. If she knew my real name, or I hers, or her friend hers, or even the friend we both knew, such pain could be caused it’s frightening. If it were reversed, and I was the BPD sufferer and she the other person, it could even be dangerous. The abilty to keep distance is vital because its the only way we both could let each other go. A RealID system can remove that distance forever from the unwary.
This can have serious effects. In a game, I can ignore someone, or petition them if it gets too much. The MMO creates distance between us, and it can’t be gulfed unless I willingly choose to. It also is a focused choice for one person. But choosing to post on a forum or not can cascade into removing distance entirely. I can tell you right now there are many people you want to keep your distance from when playing.
I hope she is happy. There was nothing wrong with her except I wasn’t the one who could be with her. By keeping distance hopefully in time she can forget me, and the girl she is with may just be the one able to endure her rages and love her enough to be with her. But if we had RealID, she might have done something she would come to regret, if not to me to someone else.
Anonyminity can protect others, and protect ourselves. That Blizzard is tossing it away over something as silly as forum posts show that they don’t deserve the success they have. Hopefully they will forget this idea. If not, no one should sub to them, at all, or buy their products.
This is too big of an issue for me, though, especially since I don’t play WoW.