Oh yeh, too late for the party, am I not? I am. Although I was longing for a “proper” topic to blog about for past two and something months, I had to pass up the opportunity to blog about RealID (on forums anyways) when it came out. First because I knew the blogosphere would explode over that and second because I was rather sure the thing won’t ever go live (seeing the number of negative comments it raised within first hour of being posted). So yeah, what I am going to blog about then you might as.
Well, RealID as I see it. Yes, even my QQ about the forum feature. But hey, all things in good time. Let’s start with how the RealID worked for me.
The very first moment I heard about RealID I was quite frankly pissed. Not because people would get to know my name and whatnot, but because I was not given the choice whether or not I want to take part in this whole RealID business. Yeah, I am crazy like that. The first note about RealID business rather passed around me, as only Blizzard game I play is World of Warcraft and all people I knew in there (that I want to talk to) I already have in various IMs or mail adress books to keep in touch. So I didn’t see much in that, really. When the first wave of RealID integration came out, I was disliking the idea you have to share your private information with people, although your friends, just to be able to talk to them. Then again, after an evening spent clicking in and out of game window to reply in my Trillian chat windows, I figured that I might as well just RealIDfriend those people and talk in game. We actually already knew our names so there was nothing to keep us from realIDing each other.
After the first hour I spent bitching over the RealID for lack of privacy, I already got 4 RealID friends, some of those I haven’t spoken for few months and we were happily chatting like never before. A lesson learned for me. RealID might not be so evil tool as I thought.
But then, out of nowhere, the post about RealID use on forums came. And that was strike one for Blizzard regarding Cataclysm. I was seriously considering walking away from this game if they would let it go live. Not because I was too afraid about my names going public on forums (I don’t post on them anyways, neither am I on FBI most wanted list) but because of how far was it pushing the boundaries of the mutual trust between me and Blizzard. What would be coming next? Character named after our real names with some sort of _lock or _shaman suffix?
And it goes deeper than that. I must confess – I am real Facebook hater. I mean, it would be great place to hang around, if only there were no other people. I hate how the whole service becomes invasive in the sneaky way and yes, you can get rid of all the ads, invites, announcements and whatnot, but only if you actually spend great deal of time configuring that shit so you are hundertperzent sure you don’t miss on important (interesting) info from people you actually do care about and don’t have them in friends just to feel loved by many. Here comes my next concern – busting real names out on forums or anywhere will inevitably lead to getting flooded by invites and shit on these social services, RealID will (unfortunately) sooner or later lead to Facebook integration and that my friends will be the day I quit World of Warcraft.
Why? Because I can see my Facebook wall getting spammed by World of Warcraft messages, looted this item, looted that item, picked this herb and died there. I am pretty sure I could turn those announcements off somehwere on Facebook – but I don’t want to bother with that and I do believe I should have the choice whether or not I want them to be shared with Facebook first. Which obviously, is not the way it would be with Blizzard (imma doomsayer, k?). Now don’t get me wrong – I am not ashamed about playing World of Warcraft. Most of my friends and my family know about that and they somewhat respect that. They know I am not going out on our raid nights but I am happy to get shitfaced any other night with them. The best of those actually learned how to schedule the “get together time” around my raiding hours and they respect my hobby – kudos for that. Then again – it’s not a thing I’d be extremely proud of anyways and I don’t see the slightest reason why it should pollute my Facebook either.
But back to RealID topic. As I said or didn’t say, I was enraged about the RealID on forums change. While I appreciated the effort to make forums troll-less, I was quite sure this is wrong way to go. Yes, it could quite possibly lead to lowering the number of trolling on the forums in the short run – but the price of upset community seemed too high to pay for that.
And yes, I said short run. It wouldn’t help against trolling at all after the trolls got themselves at least small balls to actually post under their real name because you know what – you can google only this much information and if trolling is what you want to do most in your free time, you will actually prepare your mailboxes and social networking site accounts for the expected negative feedback and you are happy to troll on. Pretty much what this episode of Ctrl+Alt+Del illustrates.
Anyways, enough was said about the pros and cons of RealID all over the blogosphere and well quite frankly everyone said more or less the same things, so I won’t be repeating them again. My concerns about RealID were expressed quite clearly above I think.
What I want to say to the whole “RealID on Forums” topic and issue is that I think Blizzard absolutely failed to handle the situation they caused in any respectful manner. I heard a lot of people were banned just because they voiced their opinions against RealID in that heated discussion and some of them were people who wouldn’t say a nasty word even if you held a gun against their head. I got very much amused by the ban reasoning of one of my officers:
Well…I’m not sure quite what it was I got banned for. The thing says ‘vulgar language’, but I cant actually remember using any…I disagreed with Blizzard a few of times in the RealID thread (the sticky one), which is enough for a ban in itself these days, and at one stage I insinuated that Wryxian might be lacking somewhat in the trouser department, but that thread has been deleted it seems.
Seems they are just banning anyone and everyone that has a negative opinion about RealID.
And no, I don’t uphold that as the absolute truth and knowing him the situation although in civilized disguise was probably far from friendly banter. However the (anecdotal) reports from all over really suggest that Blizzard was swinging the banhammer left and right in order to suppress any opposition that did dare to speak up.
And after causing the biggest riots in the whole World of Warcraft history (admit it, the “3.1 retadin fix drama” or both “epics for casuals for badges only” do not come even close to this) they come up with this (quoting just first and last paragraph):
I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.
In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard’s success from the beginning.
I can’t help myself, but those two paragraphs just don’t really click together all too well. For me at least. I mean, they cause shi-storm on the forums, ban everyone left and right and then grace us with the note that they decided (after internal discussions) that RealID will not be required. It will not be required. Rejoice. I just don’t know really. The whole thing could be summed up quite easily – Blizzard came with well-intended yet absolutely misjudged plan to make forums better place. A plan that was destined to fail from the very beginning given the community of World of Warcraft. They get beaten to death with feedback; an elephant dancing in porcelain store would cause less harm than their efforts to contain the situation and they are unable to come up with an apology (for the lack of better word) or just admit upfront that they meant well, but didn’t really choose the best way to do it. No. We are graced by their highness to actually discuss (what was there to discuss with such negative feedback anyways???) and then we may be happy they decided to lift it. A really strong and bonding experience for the community, especially with other Cataclysm changes around. Feels very welcoming to participate in discussion.
TL;DR version – RealID seems like a very cool feature. Trying to hunt down trolls on forums is great idea as well, but needs different solution. And Blizzard should man up with admitting huge fuck-ups like this.
In other news, I discovered that leading a guild in Cataclysm is harder than ever before; I discovered I do love PvP in Warhammer online on my Shaman (more on that later) and that after causing troubles in PlusHeal discussion about first Shaman talent drafts I absolutely hate the shi-thing Blizzard came up for restos for Cataclysm. Too much bloated in my opinion. More on that later too.