Posted by: Makakai | July 8, 2010

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

THE hot topic right now, RealID, has many folks upset and a few willing to give it a try; but let me give you a slightly different perspective.

Let me start with the initial implementation of RealID for cross-game communication…

I waited about a week before I accepted my friend’s requests, because as I explained to them, I use a lot of Addons and I didn’t want to be the source of a hacked guild bank. Two weeks later, after I’ve already taken the plunge because no evidence was immediately shown that the RealID could be hacked, I read about the Addon access  over on wow.com. I’ve since passed this on to my guild and instructed those who may be concerned how and what can be done to protect ourselves at this time.

In an evaluation of RealID pros and cons for “cross-game communication” I believe that the ability to chat with my friends while I’m on an alt on a different server is a really nice “perk”. However, while the ability of my friend’s friends to see my name does make me uncomfortable the nature of my fiends in the game who have my RealID are folks I trust with my Full Name, Phone Number, Email address, etc. so it’s not like they couldn’t mention my name to their other friends anyways. Overall, though I think the feature is awesome as it provides me and my friends the ability to whisper a guildie on another server to join us for guild activities or even just chat with friends that have characters they play more often on another server. The folks that I play with in my guild ALL know each other face-to-face so I am in a VERY unique situation anyways, in fact I think I have over a dozen of my guildies/friends added.

This brings us to the recently announced change to the forums…

It basically has no impact for me since I don’t read the official forums in any serious capacity nor have I ever posted on them anyways. However, the extensive breach of privacy and security that RealID visibility on the forms will bring about is a concern to me as it suggests that Blizzard-Activision (B-A) is rapidly heading toward a very open security policy for their entire business model. I’ve read enough further information on this change that I think I understand the marketing model that B-A is going for, it still seems like a rather daring choice overall.

And now for the opinion and rant part…

I predict that the official forums will get used rarely if at all for the effective discourse that they state as the reasoning behind this change. Most  educated people who actually understand the security and privacy concerns would NOT use the official forums with this feature active, as seen in the reasoned and extensive post over on wow_ladies. Therefore, no reasoned and educated comments will appear on the official forums thereby defeating the whole purpose of the feature (as stated in the original comment on the forums). Do none of the decision makers at B-A realize that the “useful comments” they expect on the forums with this feature will not occur? I say this because I suspect that only really brave people with no concerns about security and privacy will use them, which to me suggests that they either are already “outed” in the community or are and I hate to say it too stupid to know any better about the security concerns. So the only people now posting on these official forums are the people who we already know their name (e.g., Matt Lowe, Mathew Rossi, etc.) from within the industry or the type of folks who wouldn’t mind being on a reality tv show and/or in the tabloids. Maybe those two sub-sets of people will bring the positive forum comments that B-A is expecting, so I’ll definitely be interested to see how all of this unfolds.

As I’ve never posted in the forums before and I’m not likely to in the future, I doubt that this controversial situation will have any effect on me so I will continue to play this amazing game. However, if this trend continues to the point at which my Full Legal Name is visible to anyone other than who I choose to display  my name to I may have to re-evaluate my interest in World of Warcraft.

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