Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

filed under Feature, Roleplay
On Privacy, Real ID’s and Roleplay
comment 49 Written by on June 22, 2010 – 9:23 am

If you’re not familiar with the concept, Real ID is Blizzard’s new cross-game, cross-server chat program. It allows you to add your friends (using their Battle.net email address) and then talk to them while you’re on another server, or not logged into WoW, or whenever. If you’ve not looked into it, both the main page and the FAQ are worth a read before you finish reading this post.

Real ID opens up a lot of out-of-game/non-game interactions for people you regularly enjoy your WoW time with. Unfortunately it also has some glaring privacy concerns that throw up some pretty big red flags, both from an RP standpoint and from a real life standpoint.

First – you and your Real ID friends will be identified by your real names. While this isn’t strikingly problematic, as many people who you play with on a regular basis may already know your real name, it does pose an issue for someone who chooses to use a pseudonym on the internet. (See: Me. My real name isn’t Anna, but I’ve got a pretty good reason not to randomly start going by another name – people know me as Anna already, and I have a lot of personal investment in the name (and this website)!)

Where this really gets sticky, though, is that you can see all of your friends’ Real ID friends (and vice versa).

f you want to be friends with someone in your guild, you have to be sure not only that you trust THEM with your real name and Battle.net email address, you have to be able to trust all of their friends with your information as well. In this way, it’s a lot like Facebook for Blizzard (a comparison that doesn’t actually win it any points in my book), and the lack of an opt-out (or opt-in) option on this feature is extremely off-putting.

EDIT: I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle this, but I think it deserves mention (read more in the comments) – the addition of real names to Real ID opens up some really unpleasant opportunities for stalking and harassment. Yes, ideally you’ll be very careful about who gets your Real ID info, but not every stalking situation starts out that way, and internet threats become /very/ scary when someone can get access to your real name. Also, I’m not sure if blocking one person on your Real ID list will block YOUR name off of all your mutual friends lists to them (meaning it might be possible for you to block someone, only to have them track you down through a friend of a friend’s list).

The fact that this is done through your Battle.net email address is also worrisome in and of itself.

Blizzard (wisely) instructs people not to give out their account information (login/password). Well, we’re now in the era of Battle.net where your account login is your Battle.net email address. Yes, everyone should have an authenticator, but not everyone does, and passing around your Battle.net email address makes it one step easier for someone to compromise your account. Many people, including me, have email addresses specifically for Battle.net that they ONLY use for Blizzard logins. This way, when I get Blizzard phishing emails to my toomanyannas at gmail account, there is NO question whether they’re scams. I’m pretty wary of giving out that address to anyone, especially not people that I’ve only met in WoW, no matter how much I like them and enjoy gaming with them.

From a an account security standpoint, your Battle.net email is a MUCH bigger deal than even your real name.

EDIT: As I’ve been made aware (thanks to several folks here and at Twitter) – while you have to give people your Battle.net email address to add them as a friend/vice versa, they don’t continue to see that from the RealID friends list. Whether or not it’s available at all, I don’t know (I’ll leave that to people with more experience – perhaps someone who’s using it can tell us?), but you still must give that Battle.net email address (your account login) to anyone who wants to add you as a friend. It’s just not then visible to everyone else – only your real name and character name are visible.

All that aside, what does Real ID have to do with RP?

From Blizzard’s Info Page:

When you agree to become Real ID friends with another player, both of you will automatically see all the other’s characters on your friends list. You’ll even see any characters your friend creates in future Blizzard games, carrying your social network forward and helping you stay connected with the people you enjoy playing with most.

My lack of desire to have everyone I’m friends with know all of my character names aside, there are some interesting RP interactions that can take place from this – namely cross-faction RP. (Thanks to Warcraft Sues for the idea, I’d not thought of it, and they posted a question about it this morning.)

I’m pretty good friends with the Panzercow – and most of his characters are hordies. On the staff of WTT:RP, Falconesse plays characters on both Alliance and Horde, and RPs extensively with both. In fact, many of the Noxilite crew have interactions with the Wildfire Riders (and associates) – both in and out of game. Some RP has even included communication between those groups, done in IRC or other media. Real ID may allow this kind of thing to happen more often, and I think (in some situations) it’s a good thing.

On the other hand, cross-faction/cross-server communication is not something Blizzard supports at all, but I’m not sure how they’d prevent it – I have both Alliance and Horde characters, and forcing me to choose only to talk to my Alliance or Horde friends would be complicated, as most of them have many alts as well.

Blizzard’s Real ID feature also will tell you “what your friends are up to” – whether they’re in a raid or sitting around in Dalaran, ostensibly “bored”. While I think that’s an interesting tidbit of information, roleplayers often “sit around” without being bored, so it won’t bypass the “Are you busy?” whispers/messages.

Unfortunately, this is the downfall of allowing all of your friends to see all of your characters as well. Everyone likes to escape sometimes, to log in and not be bothered by guild stuff or chatter. Ideally, you wouldn’t share your Real ID info with all of those people, but it’s still hard to get away from, even without announcing that you made a new level 1 alt. Spinksville had a good post on this aspect that’s worth a read as well.

Being a roleplayer adds another level of awkwardness to this kind of broadcast. Sometimes I really like to have “small group” RP – I want to snag one or two people, go somewhere that we won’t be bothered, and enjoy RP that’s personal or private or sensitive to the characters. Real ID broadcasting where that is increases the chance of someone showing up to join in the RP because they saw you were all out in Winterspring together. Right now, through channels/guilds/friends lists it’s still possible to see that information, certainly, and most people know to send a whisper first, but the possibility of “party crashing” is still there, and Real ID will make it even more obvious (since people will, at least in theory, be looking at their Real ID friends to see what’s up and what they might join in doing).

Is Real ID all bad then?

No, I don’t think so. It’s an interesting concept, and seeks to attach a social media type concept to WoW and other Blizzard games. It opens up the possibility of cross-faction and cross-server RP, which is decidedly cool (though possibly not something Blizzard will think is so awesome, so we’ll see on that count).

Due to the privacy concerns though, I won’t be using it (at this time). There are excellent non-Blizzard chat programs available (AIM, Google Chat, IRC, various messenger clients, etc.) that can be used to essentially the same effect, without automatically displaying a ton of information that you can’t choose not to display. It’s easy to use a pseudonym, control who does and doesn’t have access to your information, and you don’t have to worry about whether your friends might have some unsavory types lingering in their friends lists as well.

Since Real ID will not be tied to any one Blizzard game, it’ll be something you’ll have to run separately on your computer anyway, so choosing to use something like a guild IRC channel wouldn’t change the memory concerns either!

Anyhow, that’s my two cents (two dollars?) on the subject.

What do you guys think? Are there roleplay opportunities with RealID that I’ve missed? How do you plan to use Real ID (if you plan to use it at all)? Do you have a screening process for potential friends (for example: only people you know in real life)?


If you enjoyed the article, why not subscribe?

49 Responses to “On Privacy, Real ID’s and Roleplay”

  1. I’m not using realID. Period.

    There are some aspects of it I like, but I’ve had enough bad experience with things like stalking both in game and out in the real world to turn it down. I also like my “alone time” so to speak, and I don’t want to make it easier for my account to be compromised.

    On that latter note, realID is going to become a hacker’s new best friend. Now when they compromise an account that has realID enabled, they get access to a ton of other account logins as well, and detailed information about those accounts that could allow them to more easily take the account and pose as the legitimate account holder. And at this point who DOESN’T have at least one friend who has been hacked?

    I honestly think the potential for cross-faction roleplay is the only saving grace of this feature, but I’ve always thought it was a little ridiculous that certain races could not communicate. (Why would the forsaken suddenly forget common and suddenly know orcish, and there had to be more than a few orcs and now-blood elves that knew common. Similarly, there were probably some humans who became at least functionally fluent in orcish.)

    By Lilivati on Jun 22, 2010 | Reply
  2. @Lilivati – I hadn’t really wanted to open up the harassment/stalking problem, but that’s definitely an issue there as well. If I block someone from my RealID, but I’m still friends with people who haven’t blocked them, will I still be visible?

    Your explanation of the account hacking/theft is better than mine as well.

  3. Until they allow for us to opt-out (or, ideally, opt-in) for the friends-of-friends feature, I don’t plan on using RealID at all, even for people that I *do* know in real life. There are simply too many security concerns for me to accept, even if other people dismiss them.

    By Verdus on Jun 22, 2010 | Reply
  4. Just wanted to chime in here and say that while you need the Battle.Net email address to add a friend, the email address IS NOT DISPLAYED. From the Battle.Net FAQ:

    “Your Battle.net account name (your email address) is not displayed to other players through the Real ID friends list.”

    So yes, in order to add someone you have to give them your email addy that’s associated with your Battle.Net. Hence why you probably shouldn’t be handing it out to every jefferson, nixon and truman in trade chat, but it’s not like once you have one Real ID friend (Let’s use my planned real ID friends of an old college buddy who plays on a different server than me), it’s not like every person they know will now have half of my log in info. πŸ˜€

  5. @Vrykerion – that’s somewhat reassuring, though it doesn’t get rid of the name concerns especially with respect to harassment – And sure, you shouldn’t give your real ID to anyone that asks, but a lot of times a stalking/harassment problem doesn’t start out as such. Also, still have the “I don’t use my real name on the internet” issue πŸ™‚

  6. I’m on the won’t-be-using list as well, primarily for the reason Verdus mentioned, but a few others as well. I don’t like the friend-of-friend feature.

    I don’t like that you can’t go invisible if you want to log in but not be disturbed Yes, you can set your status to do-not-disturb/busy, but ask me how many people heed that when I set it as my gtalk status. Most people ignore it and message me anyway; why would that change for a chat client that tells the world I’m playing a game?

    I don’t like that all of your characters are visible. If I could set it to let people know when I’m logged into Davien, Threnn, or Annalea and exclude other alts, I might like it better. Sometimes I want to play an alt have some quiet time. RealID takes that ability away.

    So, yeah, until I can opt-in and -out of features, I’m passing altogether.

  7. I won’t be using it, myself. Not for fear of people knowing my real name (Hi! I’m Steve! *waits for the rest of the 12-steppers to yell “Hi, Steve!”*), but that I do enjoy not being followed around on every single toon I have. Sometimes, I just want to be left the hell alone, ya know? And I’d rather not have to select some feature that says as much. Instead, I can just log onto my lesser-known alt and go mining, leveling, or doing dailies without having to contend with a bunch of facebook-esque whispers coming my way.

  8. There is, incidentally, an opt-out. By removing friends from your list, you ostensibly take away their ability (and thus, their friend’s ability) to track you. Though i know far too many people who would take it as a personal slight. Thus, another reason I won’t be opting in.

  9. I can understand the concerns people have, but at the same time I have to point out – in this day and age, the idea of privacy on the world wide web is pretty… laughable, especially if you have any sort of involvement in social media. Remember: Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back.

    I mean, stuff I said *ten years ago* is still out there.

    I dunno. I’m gonna be using it, but I’m also not afraid to tell people “No, go away” and make frequent use of my away/busy statuses.

  10. @Matojo – I don’t like the idea that privacy is a moot point on the internet. Sure, some people have chosen to go that route, but not everyone has. I’ve had more than one instance of stalking/harassment happen online – and one of those was through WoW and partially through this blog. I really object to the idea that someone could get my full name through that.

    Also, as others have mentioned, I like being able to not have everyone know every character I have – an option that you can’t, at this point, choose not to have. Sure you can not-friend and un-friend, but people STILL will have your full character list. Also, what if I’m playing Diablo to get away from something in WoW? People ignore my “away/busy” tags repeatedly (much like @Falconesse mentioned) as it is.

  11. The “Don’t use my real name on the net” thing is a valid concern. I got past it a while back when I googled my name and found out exactly how easy it was to figure out my name anyway (I suffer from a completely uncommon name) based on a knowing a few things about me, I decided that worrying about it wasn’t in the cards for me.

    However, many people I know would agree with you about not giving out your name like that. To each their own I suppose.

  12. @Vrykerion – I’ve got the added level of being well known around the WoW blogging universe as Anna. People know me, and (at least I hope) respect what I have to say about roleplaying. Were I to suddenly become someone else, I’d lose some of that or have to deal with a level of confusion while people figured out who I was again. I’m not saying that Rebecca Smith can’t say intelligent things about roleplay (not my real name either), but there’s some level of credibility that I have here as Anna that I’d like to keep!

    (Also, I have a ridiculously /common/ name, so being Anna can actually be advantageous and LESS confusing, as there aren’t as many Annas around these days!)

  13. I like the idea of cross-faction communication. Maybe we can do our Alliance sister guild without shattering our guild now.

    I like being able to talk to friends I’ve made online or in Twitter, or even decent PUGgers, to build a network of People It’s Cool To Play With that’s bigger than just one server.

    I do *not* like the idea of never being able to get away from it. I have alts I can go hide on, and this will take that option away.

    I also don’t like the lack of privacy. I choose not to give my name out for a reason, and I don’t like Blizzard requiring it of me.

    Still, we’ll see. Depending on how I signed up for my WoW account, I may set it up just because the guild would need me to.

  14. @Moody – That’s an interesting question – will this be practically ‘required’ of guild leaders, and how will that affect leading? Guild Leading is already a HUGE time and effort chunk (I’m actually writing a review for The Guild Leader’s Handbook right now, so it’s kind of fresh in my mind), and Real ID would probably increase your “available” time – and I’m not sure that’s a good thing, you know?

  15. The one thing a lot of people are missing is that for someone to add you as a RealID friend is that you give them you Battle.net email acct, although it is never seen again, and then you become to their friends and when they add you, they also see your email address when adding you. If that friend of a friend happens to have a keylogger, your Battle.net login is partially compromised. Once added as a friend, everyone sees your real name, the one Blizzard address you with in their Official emails. How many people are going to get and email that looks like it is from Blizzard, addressed to the Battle.net email account and addresses them by name and click on the link, never a good thing, and find their account hacked.
    Personally I use a mobile authenticator and never click links in emails. I go directly to the website to access my Battle.net account but have seen too many people hacked including Guild Leaders, to not be concerned with the huge security breach this will open for many people.

    By Shadowspawnd on Jun 22, 2010 | Reply
  16. My best friend and former guildie was being stalked by a guild member. It got to be fairly creepy and kind of scary, to the point she had to threaten legal action. He was removed from the guild, but if he was also friends with someone she was RealID friends with, he’d be able to keep track of her via his friends of friends list. I’m with the others on wishing I could opt out (or in) of that feature. Why do the friends of my friends need to know anything about me? If I wanted them to, they’d be my RealID friends, too.

  17. The same people that would be slighted by you removing them as a Real ID Friend will (most likely) also be insulted by you rejecting their Real ID request.

    Coincidentally, those are probably also the people you’re better off not having as Real ID Friends πŸ™‚

  18. I’m not concerned with people knowing my real name. If you google ‘falconesse,’ there I am. And there are aspects of the RealID thing that I’d like, if only I could turn the others off.

    I haven’t seen much of an internet freak-out over it, at least not here at Too Many Annas and within my guilds (though I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who haven’t read the FAQ that are upset over things that aren’t accurate. I went and read it the moment it went up, and made an informed decision from there.) What I’ve seen is mostly “I’d be more inclined to use it if X, Y, Z.”

    I’d use it if I could hide my online status. I’d use it if I could declare that ONLY friends could see my name, not friends of friends. I’d use it if I could dictate what characters/games appeared to my friends, and which were private. I figure, if they can make things like the equipment manager system and the talent-point-confirmation thing something you have to activate on a character-by-character basis, they could do it for RealID, too.

    I guess it’s not so much about privacy for me, in regards to who does or doesn’t know my name. It is about controlling my accessibility. Since I don’t feel that Blizzard has given me the level of customization and control I’d like to have in that respect, I won’t be using the service.

  19. @Falconesse – Honestly, I think I would too. It has some really appealing aspects, but right now it’s black or white. You’re either in for everything, or you’re out for everything. If it was toggle based, I’d have WAY fewer hesitations about it, since you could essentially eliminate the possible “drawbacks” – including the stalking/harassment, and the RP-crashing ones.

    Hopefully Blizzard hears that, and not just OMG MAH PRIVACIES, and we get some more customizable options. As mentioned, it’s a good start, but it’s too… facebooky for me right now, for lack of a better term.

  20. I won’t be using it either, for all the same reasons others have listed. (Hurray for not having to list them all myself?) Also, I think Esh nailed it on the “friends-of-friends” thing:

    “Why do the friends of my friends need to know anything about me? If I wanted them to, they’d be my RealID friends, too.”

    I have vent, Instant Messenger, and Google talk. If any of my in-game friends want to contact me, it’s not hard to find me. So really, I have no reason to add RealID to the list. Just my 2 copper on it.

  21. While my understanding is that RealID is a bit more secure than people are thinking — friends of friends don’t see your e-mail, for instance, and if you block them, apparently you entirely vanish from the system as far as they’re concerned — I can’t see wanting this level of closeness with most people I play WoW with.

    Folks who are already Facebook friends are one thing, and moving them to a separate friends list will free up some room on the “real” friends list, but I think Blizzard still went too sweeping with this new feature. It’s like Jeff Zuckerberg designed it, or something.

  22. There are interesting aspects, but, I’ll be honest, I really just don’t like anyone enough for me to want them to be able to get all up in my proverbial business without my express permission. That inevitably leads to breaches of privacy, which are anathema to me, as I am an intensely private person (and a bit of a control freak.) I can think of all of two people who I might give my Real ID to, and that only because I live with them and they already know my battle.net login.
    Now, if they offered some granularity of control, rather than just the binary off and on, it might be more useful.

  23. I’ve met over 1/2 of my guild in person. I have met a respectable chunk of the wow-blogging community in person. If you need a phone number for someone who was in my guild within the last 3 years, I probably have it, and if not, I probably have their facebook, myspace, or email contact information.

    Suffice it to say that I am liberal and trusting with my personal information.

    And, yet….. Real ID squicks me out.

    Mostly because….. it reads like a built-in harassment engine. Currently, if someone from the game wanted to cause me grief via the channels accessible to them, not only do they have to take the time to change media (which seems to be a leap for petty harassment), but I can choose to not pay attention. I can wait, and delete FB messages in a batch, I can turn off my cell phone (and file actual police charges for telephone harassment.)

    But if someone wants to use my WoW info to harass me in WoW… they force a confrontation in real-time. And the laws covering that kind of harassment are nascent, at best. Aside from logging off, there is no escape. And for some reason the giving up and going home outcome is defeatist.

    Further, Wynthea is a public persona. I enjoy getting whispers from people who read Matt’s blog and remember me. Although my other character names are listed, I’ve never, ever gotten recognized – and their disclosure is my option. The idea that I would be forced to “rudely” reject someone’s request to know me on all of my characters is distasteful, and at my scale of non-celebrity, I cannot IMAGINE what would happen if someone like Kungen’s toon-list got released.

    Like Anna, I take issue with the idea that there is no concept of privacy on the internet. A level 1 wAnnabe running around mulgore is the definition of anonymous. All identifying information of the player is absent, and the character must be treated as a completely new individual. Linked via a friend-of-a-friend’s Real ID, the newb becomes identifiable as played by a genderized, racialized, contextualized person. …. And, for me, that voids the essence of escapism that WoW provides for so many players, on at least one secret toon.

    Squicked. Out.

  24. When I first heard about RealID, I thought it would be great for a “call-to-arms” for instancing or raiding. My guild suffers from heavily from alt-itis, and those alts are not just on another faction or server but sometimes even a completely different continent. Same with the three game-worlds, some play all three, others wouldn’t care if Diablo3 is scrapped completely.

    Then came the info: ALL charcaters visible including any new made. Yeah, cute… there goes my private goof-off on an alt time. People who already know that alt is me also know not to bother me for anything less than Lore!! or Raids, but I doubt others will be as nice. For RPs who like to keep certain characters anonymous for RP purposes this is even worse. “Hey guys! You know our big bad? Well, guess what… that’s our GM, and that new guy who just joined the storyline that we all think is a spy? Same person! I smell a trap!”

    Friends of Friends: SAY WHAT? If I wanted a Facebook system for Blizzard I would HAVE a Facebook page. Easier to make new friends my blue tailed behind! Even without the security stuff, this is the deal breaker for me. No, I do not want invites from people who I have never heard from before, just because we might share a friend and they like to say “Ooooh, I have hundreds of friends. Don’t talk to any of em and don’t really know more than a handful, but 200 friends! That makes me a VIP or something, right?” Never mind that just because I like person A and we both share a love for music, I would immediately like B who shares A’s taste in crappy movies. [/sarcasm]

    Real Name: And there goes another privacy barrier. Of all the people I know in Azeroth, only three people know my real name and one of those is my RL brother! In my case it’s not even the privacy part, in my guild we know each other by nicknames (usually their first main) so they would keep going “who’s that again?” For RPs again it’s worse. I remember reading something about keeping your private life very seperate from your RP… not too long ago either. And to be honest good advice even for non-RPs. Do they even read WoW.com at Blizzard?
    [linky: http://www.wow.com/2010/06/13/all-the-worlds-a-stage-maintaining-your-barriers/#continued ]
    My verdict? I’ll try it out with my brother, but we both won’t bother with it further unless they add a handful of opt-in mechanics. Or opt-out, as long as it works I’m not going to whine about which is better… even if we all know which one is preferable.

    By Tsani on Jun 23, 2010 | Reply
  25. To everyone who’s replied – thank you all for wonderful discussions (and I hope they continue). I’d just like to remind everyone that this decision (to use or not to use Real ID) is an individual one, and that nobody here is armflailing and whinging about it. I’m a little peeved that in most other places, anyone that has an issue with Real ID is portrayed as a hand wringing neophyte who doesn’t know anything about how the internet works. I really appreciate that there hasn’t been any of that here, and wanted to give you guys <3 and such for that.

    As usual, my commenters are the best. (I may be slightly biased)

    And - to continue on that vein - I'm glad to see that some of you ARE using Real ID. I truly think that Blizzard has a good idea here, they've just chosen to implement it with a toggle rather than a control panel. If nobody ever used it, it would get deleted, and the potential for a cool service would go away. Here's hoping that some of these issues get addressed (@Falconesse made probably the most eloquent point - comment #23) and that we can eventually have our cake and eat it too. Or pie. I'm an equal opportunity promoter of desserts.

  26. Regarding Privacy – Matojo is partially right – the stuff you post on the internet, and the things you say in WoW, and all the stuff that goes on Facebook is public. But, because we’re dealing specifically with WoW here, I’m going to agree mostly with Wynthea on this one. There’s a difference between “publicly shared” information, and information known by a company about me.

    Yes, Blizzard knows that the level 8 Tauren hunter over on some other server is me. I’m OK with that. I trust Blizzard to only use that information if it’s needed because I’ve broken the TOS or someone else has. I also trust that Blizzard won’t answer a petition from some random person on the internet wanting to know what toon “Anna” is on right now. That privacy level still exists. Privacy, even in the real world, is not an on off switch (much like we’d all like Real ID to not be an on-off switch).

    I don’t think there’s any kind of naivete or stupidity in being OK with Blizzard knowing your real name and which characters are yours but not being OK with everyone you know in game knowing your name and which characters are yours.

  27. I was curious as to what information the friends of friends actually get.
    Last night I did an experiment and shared RealID information with someone I do trust, who I knew had shared RealID info with other people.

    I could see the friends of friends names, but not much else in terns of information.

    I thought I’d see if I could be annoying and sent out some ‘broadcast’ messages across RealID, yet this friend of mine never mentioned to me that the friends of friends received my broadcasts.

    This makes me pretty happy on the whole what impact the friends of friends have. They know I have the same friend as the; they can prompt me (once) to be realID friends with them; I don’t receive broadcast messages from them, nor do they seem to get them from me.

    This does not eliminate the lack of an ‘invis’ or ‘opt-out’ function.

    I did receive a RealID invite front a friends of friends connection – without their email being displayed at all. I had the option to ‘block’ or ‘ignore’ this RealID friend. I haven’t selected either option yet, and I’m tempted to leave it sit to see how long it sits there.

    Will I be using RealID for real or will I drop/remove/demote these people I’m testing this with? I’m not sure at this point – the lack of opt out/invis options to hide certain characters shouldn’t have been that hard to do.

  28. I think the Friends-of-Friends thing only shows your name, and nothing else. It is only so if you recognize someone your Real-ID friend is friends with, you can friend them. they cant see your character name or where you are or anything like that. this is just speculation though since i haven’t gotten on WoW since 3.3.5 dropped. i had to reinstall WoW due to some unfixable error and its still downloading. πŸ™

    By Axethor on Jun 23, 2010 | Reply
  29. Just in case this hasn’t been mentioned, after you add an RID friend, there is an online/busy/offline box you can use in the friends window. If you set yourself as offline, you appear as offline, giving you the “invisibility” that alot of people seem to be desiring. Just thought I’d toss that out there for you all.

    By atomicrat2552 on Jun 23, 2010 | Reply
  30. Sorry, after double-checking that by logging into the game, I realized that I was incorrect, my apologies.

    By atomicrat2552 on Jun 23, 2010 | Reply
  31. Get the facts right…


    By hemmingsson on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  32. While I understand the fears behind your post Anna, I have to chime in that most of your concerns are really unfounded :/

    1. On the friends of friends list all you can see is people’s real names, and not what characters they play – so if someone decides to stalk someone through that method it’d be something like typing in a random name on facebook and deciding to stalk that person. They’d have to google your name since they don’t know what character you’re on, and they’d end up with however many people with the same name etc. etc. The only way they could stalk you is if you’ve freely given out your real name before, in which case WHY ARE YOU ONLY WORRYING ABOUT THIS NOW xD.

    2. If someone tracks you down through a friends of friends list (After you’ve realid friended someone who will actually stalk you i.e. you don’t know that well? :/) you can easily just DENY their request and they will receive no notification about it whatsoever (apart from the fact that you haven’t been added to their realid friends list.) If they continue to harass you you can contact a GM and have that person completely blocked from you so they cannot contact you (or realid friend request you at all) on the entirety of battle.net.

    3. People have already addressed the concern about giving out your battle.net account email – and I can confirm that there is no way you can see that email apart from the SINGLE time you give it out to someone when you attempt to friend them. You cannot see emails on friend of friends lists, or anywhere else apart from an initial friend request.

    I’ll concede the pseudonym issue to you, but the people you realid friend should be ones you trust enough to tell your real name anyhow :P.

    Cheers on the great RP ideas though ^^

    By Mirdini on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  33. Edit: By “what character you’re on” I meant to say what characters you are/play – you’ll just pop up as some unknown name with no possible way to connect it to any characters (unless you’ve given out your real name before).

    By Mirdini on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  34. No matter how much reassurance there is from Blizzard and Battlenet, as with all social networks, there is always the chance for oversight, error and lapse of judgement. Eventually someone will figure out a way around all the protections in place. I’m careful, cautious, suspicious and very smart about protecting myself online, so if I choose to use RealID, I’ll exercise all those abilities and do so without worry.

    But I won’t be using RealID.

    I have family and real life friends who play and I still will not use RealID to “keep connected” as there are many other ways to stay in touch with them. When I play WoW, I not only want to preserve my me-time, but also my privacy, and my options to NOT participate if I don’t want to, to NOT be found, to NOT be identified.

    By Llyrra on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  35. I’d like to point people to this post over at WTT:RP – it’s a good follow up! http://wttrp.com/2010/06/23/the-obligatory-wttrp-real-id-post/

  36. Your concerns with RealID are, to say the least, completely exaggerated. It’s hard for me to even believe that someone who actively posts on a blog like this could be such a neo-luddite.

    Your site requires me to enter my email address every time I want to post a comment, yet somehow that doesn’t concern me, nor does it seem to concern others who post on innumerable blogs every day.

    RealID only requires one person to share their email one time with their friend, after which neither party has ANY ability to ever see the others’ email again. If you still think that’s too invasive of your privacy, remember that RealID is very, very clear in its intent to only be used to connect friends who know and trust each other in the real world. If you don’t trust someone to that level, then you shouldn’t be using RealID.

    As for the “friends of friends” list, it gives very, very significantly less information than a simple search on your average social networking site. Name only. No email address, no information on what game/server/character the person is playing. Nothing. If you don’t recognize the person’s real name, then chances are you shouldn’t be making them your RealID friend, for the same reasons discussed above. If you’re worried that someone else will see you on a friend-of-friend list, remember that the most they can do is request to be your friend, which you can then deny. Without your permission, they won’t be able to communicate with you in game, so no worries of harrassment there. As for outside the game, they have absolutely no way to associate your real name with anything else about you: not your email, your characters, your guild, your website, your screen name for any other application, etc. And without knowing that, you are just one of countless people with the same name. Still think the person having your name is too worrisome? Well, a potential stalker could get your name, and in fact more, from a phone book, a google search, et cetera.

    The simple fact is that your “concerns” with RealID stem entirely from a lack of education on the issue at hand. This blog post is tantamount to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, when there is none. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that your post is in any way illegal (unlike inciting a panic in a theater); what I am saying is that this post is unresearched and frighteningly alarmist. Repeated use of words such as “security concerns” when the concerns are minimal, if not arguably nonexistent, is bound to confuse and scare some readers out there, and I simply cannot let that happen without at least leaving a comment to assuage their fears.

    By Falochu on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  37. @Falochu – I appreciate your concern with and for my readers, however, I do not generally allow name calling on this blog (either directed at me or at other commenters). There has been a great deal of discussion that I find valuable, both regarding the actual use of RealID and regarding its impact on RP – and I’d prefer to refrain from allowing that discussion to degenerate into the “users” and the “non-users” calling one another names. I highly suggest you read the post I’ve linked in the comment above yours, over at WTT:RP – I agree strongly with Falconesse in that post.

  38. @Anna

    I feel obligated to apologize for the parts of my post that devolve into childish name-calling, please know that my original comment was motivated only by concern for other readers of your blog.

    As for the post over on WTT: RP – thanks for the link! I agree for the most part with what Falconesse has said there, although for me personally, there is more than one person who I don’t mind sharing all my alts’ names with. As such, I am already using RealID to connect with several people, and so far am pleased with the results. To those out there such as Falconesse: I can only hope that the system will evolve in the future to allow the kind of control over accessibility that you’re looking for.

    By Falochu on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  39. Say I meet my soul mate through WoW; I’ve read of this happening. Say it doesn’t work out when we meet F2F, turns out he’s a control freak with a violent temper, and I dump him. I can’t unfriend him in RealID, can I? I could try to faction transfer, name change, server change, and he’d still be able to follow me and harass me through my friendslist. Or my friends. Or the friends of my friends.

    Blizzard says to share your RealID only with those you love, but love can turn to hate quite easily.

    But that could never happen. People who play WoW would never be control freaks, or deliberately set out to grief people because of a temper tantrum. Of course not.

    By Nina on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  40. There are people out there who have wow toons that they use to get away. I am not one of these people. Real ID works pretty well for me. Would I like to have Falconnese’s and Anna’s Real ID? Of course I would. I <3 them.

    What I am not going to do is browbeat them to try and get what I want. that's just stupid.

  41. I think you should consider that this system is all fresh and new. It almost certain won’t stay as it is for long. Blizzard is going to update and improve it, and might add features that improve privacy. I believe that sooner or later they’re gonna make it possible to have chars not displayed to your friends. At least, that’s what they must do if they want the majority of people to use the system.

    Me? I’m going to add my boyfriend, since we live together anyways so no use in hiding characters from him. πŸ˜€ There are two other friends I’ll probably add, both of which don’t play on my realm, so we will enjoy to chat ingame and not having to use a messenger or log in on the other realm.
    As long as friends see all my characters, that’s it.

    By Yangli on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply
  42. @Nina

    I would just like to take a moment to respond to your fears:

    Go right-click on a RealID friend in game at some point, and you’ll see that yes, you can remove a Real ID friend. I’m not sure where you got your information implying that you can’t. A simple right click also reveals options to report that person for spam or abuse, which is the perfect outlet in the event that this hypothetical person continues to try to harrass you even after you’ve blocked them. At that point, blizzard will intervene and block them from contacting you again on the Battle.net account level. So, worst case scenario, they have to open a new subscription to wow every single time they wish to give you the minor inconvenience of denying a new RealID friend request, and that’s it. That’s all they can do.

    I would further caution that if our example person indeed met you in face to face, I would be far, far more concerned about their potential ability to stalk you or harass you in the real world!

    By Falochu on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

Want to subscribe?   

 Subscribe in a reader Or, subscribe via email: