RealID is ruinin' mah research

One of the nicest things about World of Warcraft is that you've a certain degree of anonymity. If you're researching, who knows who you're talking to? It isn't unusual to catch fellow researchers conducting surveys. These vary from gender studies, to psychology, to sociology, and any number of different topics. I tend to like WoW for my ability to make plenty of virtual mistakes that I can avoid in real life.

And it was good. I learnt. My virtual tentacles grew over time. I hammered my way into some raiding guilds if the fancy caught me. I explored many different servers. I at long last made a Hordie.

Then along came RealID. RealID lets you know the person's name a given account is registered under. It also lets you know all of someone's RealID friends. It can also see across Blizzard's games: I can tell when a friend is faffing about playing Starcraft.

Plain and simple, I had gone soft. While not all of my guildies have my RealID, some do, and pretty much one member of each guild I'm involved in has it. Suddenly the disembodied ventrilo voices have first and last names to them.

While it's nice to see that my circles seem different than other people's (certainly more multicultural than the average), I wonder at this new depth. How much does this knowledge change my relationships?

There was a great discussion about friending a la Facebook and twitter at a legal workshop I recently attended. Was it similar to allowing an acquaintance to sit next to you on the subway or at a dinner table? Was it more intimate than that?

This two level friendship thinking is kind of nice. I can like one given character. I can explore that and maybe foster it until it blossoms into something more meaningful. Some people never give their RealID to folks they don't know in real life, and that's probably for the best. There are probably a couple to few dozen folks that I know through RealID. Before the evils of super fast dungeon running, I used to love that Conan's friends list was full, and that his ignore list was neigh empty.

When added to the new guild system, this is not only a powerful twist for players, it's a new facet to consider as researchers. Complexity. Wealth. Depth.