Real ID – Killing Immersion In Patch 3.3.5
As a lot of sites are reporting at the moment, Real ID has hit Battle.net and will be coming to World of Warcraft very shortly in it’s next patch. For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, it’s basically a cross-game chat system that lets you keep in touch with, well, anyone you want to really (provided they’re playing either WoW or Starcraft 2… for now). Initial reaction seems to be quite negative as folk aren’t very keen on the idea of fellow players finding out their real names (Real ID is linked completely to your Human Name and has nothing to do with character name or nickname) or tracking them wherever they go. I don’t blame them.
To me it’s all seems a little strange and unnecessary. Do I really need to be inter-connected with everyone I’ve ever met all of the time? Nope. Just because the Internet is great at facilitating these things doesn’t mean they should. I sometimes feel like I’ve suffering from information overload and that my brain is going to explode if I signed up to another social networking site or hooked myself into another chat system. But then I’m probably being a little over-sensitive to it all and blowing this side of things out of proportion.
The big issue that I do have with Real ID, and what I’m not blowing out of proportion, is that it completely, totally and unequivocally destroys every last drop of immersion left in World of Warcraft. No longer shall my friends be greeting me with calls of “Hail, Kilgour, Mighty Warrior!” but instead I’ll be interrupted by welcomes like “Yo, Gordo! Wassup m8!?”. Fan-freaking-tastic.
I have to wonder if Blizzard are even aware that WoW is being marketed as a massively-multiplayer-roleplaying game. Note the italics on the world roleplay. I don’t play MMORPGs to exist in a virtual world as Gordon, rather I play them to exist as a huge, stonking Warrior who’s going to smack up opponents black and blue and silly-upside-down. I play them to escape from the reality of my normal life and so, for a brief few moments, I can exist as someone else without any worries or concerns. And that’s going to become a lot harder to do when people are constantly viewing me as, well, me and not the avatar that I inhabit. Imagine paying for a bondage BDSM session and referring to your dominatrix as ‘Cindy Smith’ instead of Mistress Guinevere. It’s. Just. Not. The. Same.
Top it all with the fact that this chat system is cross-realm, meaning we can now effectively community between Horde and Alliance players, utterly defeating the point of any sort of faction divide, and we have a mechanic that has done the roleplay quality of WoW a heck of lot of damage. That is, of course, if there was any left to be damaged.
I can understand why Blizzard have added Real ID but the issue is that it’s solved a problem that doesn’t actually exist. Yes, it’s added convenience… but at what price?