Real ID: Do you trust the friends of your friends?

So, today is patch day. This patch has a lot of neat features (like the Ruby Sanctum raid). One of these upcoming features is the Real ID system.  This system is designed to blend your “real life” with game life to a somewhat uncomfortable facebook-stalker level.

When the Real ID system was first announced, I thought I’d be able to get into contact with my friends & blog readers that I’ve met through the game, twitter, etc. However – the level of detailed information that the system provides to your “friends” (and the friends of your friends) makes it such that I’ll only be using the Real ID for the people I know in real life, and not likely people I met through the game (even if I think you are a great person, I may not trust your friends). That means I won’t be using the feature to it’s fullest.

They could have designed the cross-server chat to be less invasive, but they chose to reveal too much personal information in a fantasy roleplaying video game, and didn’t implement enough choice & privacy options.

Unfortunately, it’s not just YOUR friends that can see all your personal info. It’s also the friends of your friends. If I invite someone to be my friend, and they have 100 friends, all 100 of those friends can see my RL info, and that makes me very uncomfortable. So, I’ll mostly be waiting & hoping that they add more privacy options into their system in the future. If they gave us the option to disable friends of friends, then I’d like the system a lot more. Until they implement privacy options into their system, I’m going to keep my friends circle limited.

Now, there are RL friends who play WoW that I’m looking forward to having cross-server communication with, and I’m happy that I’ll be able to reconnect with them. I just wish the system was better.

Just remember to be safe about how you use the Real ID system. It’s not supposed to be a friends list that you give to everyone you ever meet in-game. (my battle.net e-mail is not the e-mail I use for this blog).

52 Comments

  1. Posted June 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Psyn. While I do understand that many people don’t want their real life name linked to their characters, I don’t really care if people know my real name. It’s not terribly hard to discover anyway, if you really wanted to.. along with my birthday, address, car registration, shoe size, whatever.

    Heck, you can find a google map to my house, and know that it’s mine because you can see my little green car (a photo of which I posted online last year) in the yard. Meh. Sure I find the idea of a stalker to be creepy – but if people want to find you, they can.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m in more danger of identity theft from someone sifting through my trash or just randomly targetting me than from a Warcraft FOF deciding to stalk me.

    They are simply copying the Facebook model. You friend a buddy from high school, and then think, “I’m a bit lazy and can’t be bothered rememebering all my classmates.. I wonder who else from high school I’d like to friend”, so you go through your buddy’s list of friends to see if you recognise them. You can’t see the personal info of those friends-of-friends, you can only see that they exist, allowing you to request they become friends with you.

    (disclaimer: unless FOFs *do* see your character names linked to your real name, but I can’t see how this would be possible, since the whole point of approving people is to allow them to see your characters…..)

    The only problem for me is that I don’t think people should be forced to show their real names. I personally don’t care, but for people like Liss who don’t want their real name attached to their in-game personas, that is entirely reasonable. However, people would need to know your real name in the first place to be able to make the connection with you. If someone on that list recognises “Emma Morgan” as being Keeva the druid, then they already know enough about me. They already know that Emma is Keeva, and vice versa. For most people, “Emma Morgan” is going to draw a complete blank.

    Lik Psyn, I’d like some more options, like being able to use a nickname rather than a real name – many more of my friends online will recognise me as Keeva, which would make FOF far more useful. I’d also like a “show as offline” feature for when I’m feeling like hiding – “busy” won’t cut it sometimes.

    All up though, I’m looking forward to it, and I’m not frightened by the prospect of my friends displaying my real name to other people. It’s not a big deal for me. But I do respect and understand the concern of people who don’t want that.

  2. Dierna
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I agree and will only be adding my real life friends with the Real ID system. I just got a request this morning from someone I only know through the game to be a real ID friend. I told him that I am only adding real life friends to the list.

    If they are my friend on Facebook, they can be my Real ID friend. I only friend people I know on Facebook. I don’t have 1000 Farmville friends. I also manage my Facebook friends so that if I notice they have a ton of Farmville friends they are in a specific privacy group that limits Friend of friend access. I wish we could do that with the Real ID system.