Monday, July 12, 2010

Time for some cuddling and making up

The process of cuddling and making up again after this week's debacle has started.

There's a lovely thread at the US forum named "I need a hug" that steadily is growing. It's not as big as the Epic Protest Thread, but it's measuring + 1000 posts and more hugs are still incoming.

Netahaera is has joined the hugging party a couple of times and intends to come back:
"For the record, I am pro-hug and will hug again. Be warned."

And I just want to chime in and add to the hugging too in an effort to make up for whatever happened and get back things as they used to be.

Trusting Blizzard?
Over the weekend I've pondered a bit more over what was written and said the past week. I've re-read my posts and asked myself if I've been too harsh. Was it unfair of me to say that I've lost a bit of the trust for Blizzard? What part have I in the fact that the community seems to be split in half? One long-time reader said in a comment he'd never set is foot in this inn again due to my childish writing about this. Maybe he was right?

After thinking it over, I've come to the conclusion that my trust in Blizzard as a part of Blizzard-Activision company is damaged and that I stand for the posts I've written. Maybe my words were little bit too strong sometimes, but it reflects the deep concerns I've had over this.

This forum-identity incident has made me wonder if some of the people in charge of this colossus are so keen on looking into business opportunities connected to social networking, such as Facebook, that it might take overhand over the ambitions from others within the company to create gorgeous games and fantasy worlds. I know others have said this for a long time, but it wasn't until now that I fully understood what they meant. And there's your trust issue.

There are other players - not the least of the more open minded Facebook generations, who welcome this development. I have the fullest respect for you and you have every right to express this opinion. I think those who support the idea will get their way eventually. This is where it's heading and resistance is probably futile. And yet we who don't like it speak up. Because if we didn't say anything, how would they know that we cared at all?

Trusting the employees?
I've also reached the conclusion that I haven't lost my trust and my love for many of the Blizzard employees. I think they're making a fantastic job, trying to keep a steady course in the chaos of expectations and wishes from players, shareholders and others, trying to think about what's best for the game in the long run and make as good decisions as they can. Sometimes they need to compromise with their gaming ideals to make sure that the business has a sound economy. Hence sparkling ponies. I can understand and accept this and I hold nothing against them for it.

I trust the game developers. I trust the blue posters, like Nethaera and Bashiok. I'm skeptical to Bob Kotick, especially after reading so many statements about his - to me - rather appalling and strange view on how to handle his human resources - the employees. I'm skeptical to those other nameless people, not necessarily in the Blizzard building, who have an agenda which I think has very little to do with the interests of the gaming community.

In this storm that was, I believe - and I know this is speculation, but that's what I think - that many of those we trust at Blizzard secretly agreed that this was a stupid idea, but they were naturally prevented from saying anything about it.

Reading the happy, relieved posts now from the blues, I can't help thinking that they were with us all the time. They assure us over and over again that they really were listening all the time this was going on, making sure that all the feedback was sent forward into the organization to the decision makers. And now they hug us.

Views among the staff
Cruising the net I found a post that supports this view. Originally it was posted in the US thread on the Real ID issue, as post number 35 821. Since then it's been removed, I found it at a forum, thanks to a link from some blog, unfortunately I can't remember which one. Anyway. Take it for what it is: second hand information that I definitely wouldn't post if I wrote this in the role of a journalist. But I'm not. I'm a blogger and I think it sounds believable enough to refer it.

Nachtjäger, Suramar, 59 Night Elf Death Knight post 35821 wrote:

"Got in touch with my ex-flatmate, whose sister works as a GM for Blizzard, to see what the internal buzz on this was. Apparently, at the moment the employees are largely as pissed as the players, and she stated that despite attempts to keep it hushed, it has become known that the big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are. Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.

It's still going ahead, however (and here's where in-house rumours and hearsay really start coming into play): from what they've picked up, the Blizzard leads have been told in no uncertain terms that the non-gameplay-related direction of the game is working to a different blueprint now. GC and company are free to play with shiny new talent trees all they like, for example, but for the first time the decisions regarding implementation, Real ID, and plans for the general acquisition of new players for the business are no longer in Blizzard's own hands, and that's not going down too well."
If this is true, I must say that I feel truly sorry for the employees. I know they're professionals, this is what they're paid for, but it's never fun to stand up and take the shit consequences for a decision that you never supported in the first place. If you're a manager, you've probably got a salary that compensates for it. But I doubt that the blue posters have it.

About internet bullying
I feel especially sorry for those who were plain bullied by Internet jerks.

It was without doubt an act of reckless bravery and misdirected loyalty from Bashiok to publish his real name. But we didn't need to take advantage of it. It would have been easy to use it as a deterring example, stating that "I now have this, this and this information about you Bashiok, is that really OK?", without actually publishing the information or start calling for pizza.

No one - regardless of position in the company - not even Kotick - deserves that kind of Internet stalking.

US players, feel free to give Bashiok a hug from me. I can't since EU players aren't allowed there. Don't ask me why, and I won't start to argue about it either. I've had enough of arguing about the forums for a little while.

But when we're done with the cuddling I hope we remember what we've realized about the direction the MMOs are taking.

If we don't like the way they're going we shouldn't hesitate to raise our voices There are definitely people who work for Blizzard who we trust. We must keep giving them good arguments so they can come out strong in their internal discussions. What appears to be harsh criticism can in fact be a supporting hug.

Finally: if you haven't read it already, head over to Psychochild and read his take on the Real ID/forum topic from an introvert/extrovert perspective. It brings some new light to why we felt as strong about this as we did.


Jason said...

There seems to be a corporate culture shift going on there ever since the "merger" with Activision.

If what Infinity Ward is alleging is true, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of these weird moves from Blizzard in the future.

Pai said...

The people that I admire and respect at Blizzard (the artists, designers, etc) are not the ones responsible for the RealID/Facebook crap, and I understand that.

But it doesn't change the fact that now I know that there is a 'plan' being hatched over there by SOMEONE that clearly doesn't give 2 craps about people's privacy and is looking for ways to monetize my user information. That knowledge alone makes me more wary of trusting or participating in any further RealID developments.

I don't think you were being 'childish' at all.

Ardol said...

I love this game. For that reason, I will likely continue to play even as Real ID takes a direction I don't agree with. I have already activated the parental controls for my account and disabled Real ID as a way of protesting this change without protesting the creative forces as Blizzard whom had nothing to do with it, and I'll be encouraging my readers to do the same in a future post.

And just as an aside, what you lost in one reader, you gained in another; your posts on the subject of this Real ID change convinced me to start reading your blog, and I will be doing so from now on.

Klepsacovic said...

Surely this cannot be a sterotypical case of "big bad corporation ruins evrything good."

Vigorless Fragmentary said...

While it was a bit harsh what happened to Bashiok maybe, I personally still think the reaction was brilliant and I personally wouldn't call those who did it jerks. there couldn't have been a more spot on and ironical way to hit the message home to blizzard (to whom ever there that makes these decisions) but in this way, by singling out one of their own so they realize what it really means they are trying to do. I think this needs to be emphasized: what happened to him IS what they were trying to sell us and what they were trivializing too. he trivialized it himself, he wasnt forced to make his point the way he did by sticking his name out there. this is done and has been done so many countless times in human history by tyrants, politicians, bigots of all kinds that held power over their 'inferiors', hitting them with new laws and regulations and calling them 'harmless' because they arent the ones affected by them....
well, it seems it wasnt so trivial anymore afterwards and thats why it was a good thing it happened and a lot worse was prevented. he didnt come to any real harm either, so I think one shouldnt blow this out of proportion. sometimes ends justify the means and it served as an eye-opener.
and if the blizz staff was indeed silently holding their breath too, then maybe he's their hero of the season now, who knows? ;)

Keeva said...

You didn't cross any lines. You weren't whiny at all.

The simple fact is that this event has made a lot of us quite wary. That's not melodrama or whining or QQ. They did something shady, and they did it in a way that we couldn't possibly ignore as *being* shady. They'd only just weeks previously told us Real ID would be optional and they had no further plans - now suddenly - more plans, and it's mandatory.

Whoa there, slow down, tiger.

You can't spring stuff on us like that and expect anything less than a massive outcry. Real ID in your friends list was big enough - did they really think it was a great idea to announce a mandatory Real ID change so soon afterwards? Let the dust settle a bit before you throw out your next controversial plan.

Frankly - it was just plain stupid. A really dumb move. Hey, I don't run any billion dollar companies, so I'm no expert - but even I have to wonder what the hell they were thinking when they decided now was a good time to announce the change.


Anyway, like you said - still love the game, still love the majority of the staff, but my trust in the company overall has taken a bit of a knock, both now and into the future. And because of that, because of the history and the rate of knots at which they progressed from "optional" in-game to mandatory on the forums, I don't think it's an enormous leap to be wondering if they're going to pull something like that on us again.

I find myself thinking that maybe the slippery slope guys are on the right track. I don't LIKE thinking that way.. but can you blame me now?

Pai's dead on - "But it doesn't change the fact that now I know that there is a 'plan' being hatched over there by SOMEONE that clearly doesn't give 2 craps about people's privacy and is looking for ways to monetize my user information. That knowledge alone makes me more wary of trusting or participating in any further RealID developments. " - exactly.

There's nothing whiny or immature about that.

I read Ixobelle's post asking why we are high-fiving Blizzard, and I really couldn't agree more. Thanking them for sparing us, fair enough.. but toasting them for being awesome to their customers.. that's going a bit far. More than anything, I think this has shown that they are out of touch with us - or they wouldn't have tried this on in the first place.

It makes me think that in the future, we're going to have to keep fighting to keep our game the way we love it, and keep our details safe and secure.

It's hung a black cloud over my enjoyment of WoW - because for the first time ever, I'm scared that someone is chipping away at our game, out of touch with what we want, and one day, the cries of "XYZ is ruining the game" will actually be true, and as much as I love the game, I won't be able to support a company who thinks it's ok to share my information with the world.

Money is what drives them, of course, and that's just business. But when they let profit blind them, and cast aside what the customer wants.. The whole thing leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. I can't celebrate this "win".

Of course, I still want to hug the CMs, who I have no doubt mostly hated the idea, but were gagged, and could only do their best in a bad situation. I feel sorry for them, and sorry for the phone operators, too, who no doubt bore the brunt of a lot of it.

Keeva said...

I agree with VF on the Bashiok thing (and similar blog postings with Blizz employee info).

The original posters weren't being malicious. They were merely trying to show how easy it would be to abuse such a small amount of information.

Unfortunately there will always be some malicious people who go too far, and I don't agree with anything that they did, such as harassing or spamming.

But even that, as much as we disagree with it, proves the point that any "normal" person could be subject to exactly the same harassment.

Now imagine if a CM in Cataclysm told us something that we didn't like. "We've decided to erase the druid class" for example. Except now, we all have that CM's real name.

Imagine the consequences of 50,000 angry druids all focusing their attacks on that poor CM, who is merely the messenger. Or worse, some poor sap who happens to have the same name.

I really truly hope that they actually got the message - that nobody deserves to have their name put up in public. Privacy should be a choice. And if they force us to show our details, then it's now very obvious that many people will simply drop the game.

Call me a cynic, but I have a feeling they still don't really value our privacy at all, and the blogs giving out employee info had no effect - it's just the projected drop in numbers that scared them. I hope that's just me being negative :/

Anonymous said...

As someone I read out there put it, what happened to Bashiok is like showing France that terrorism is bad by bombing the Eiffel Tower.

I'm willing to forgive a lot of things, since I'm a really mellow person in general, but I will say this: if you think that what happened to Bashiok was at all a good thing, you're scum, and if there's anything that makes me ashamed of playing WoW, it's people like you.

Incidentally, the topic seems to be deleted, but here's Bashiok's response to the topic:

In other news, I am glad that people are taking the time to contemplate and consider the events of last week a little more, and I only wish it could have happened last week, so that it would have been a lot more reasonable instead of the giant angry crapstorm it was.

Barrista said...

I find it interesting that you find your words harsh. I think you always try to be fair or at least try not to step on anyone's toes. Heck, sometimes I think you are TOO fair!

As for what happened to Bashiok, he posted his full name to prove a point. People used that name to prove a point as well. They were trying to prove that it's not a good idea to just give your name out to complete strangers. Because while we do all play the same MMO, we are essentially complete strangers!

Also, what happened to Bashiok was short lived and done to prove a point. I don't consider that stalking really. I'm sure women (and even men) who have been stalked would see the difference as well. What these people did were more "pranks" and they were done to prove a point.

And I don't doubt this was mainly activisions doing. Just as I am waiting for Warner Bros. to have big ideas of how to mess up, I mean, "improve" LotRO. That won't be Turbine's fault, but at some point we have to accept that Blizzard and Turbine do not exist as they once did. They are both now part of larger corporations that will try to exploit them and their customers for more profit.

Anonymous said...

I think that "" pretty much spoke for me.

Larísa said...

@Jason: Good heavens. That link was… ugly. I suppose I should be happy not trying to make a living in the game industry.

@Pai: Yeah, I’m trying to make a distinction in this post between the decision makers in the company and the employees. It’s been quite a black and white week and before I could let the topic drop for this time I wanted to clear it up a little.

@Ardol: Welcome to the inn Ardol! I’ll slow down on posting and there will probably be a little summer break for a few weeks shortly. But there’s some 500+ posts to catch up on if you miss me .

: It actually might…

Fragmentary: Actually the thought has struck me. What if Bashiok did this on puropose, knowing perfectly well what would happen? What if he wasn’t trying to prove his point to the forum posters, but rather sending a message to the decision makers at Blizzard? THIS is what will happen, sort of?

We’ll never know. But it could very well be the case. It was very well played in that case.

@Keeva: Thank you for your very thoughtful comments, which I basically agree on. 50 000 angry druids… WoW. It’s funny but I can’t help seeing them as anything but an enraged Fangorn. Scary, to say the least.

: Well… I don’t know of any blogger that is doing their blogging as anything but a hobby. So sometimes it takes a little while for us to think things through and above all –formulate something over it that we’ve thought through. But to be fair: I think there were many, many extremely well written blog posts last week that were pretty civilized, although of course sharply critical. If there were things that went overboard it was mostly on forums (sic!) .

: I guess I’m just overly self conscious and very, very self critical. I’ve worked hard to make the inn to the kind of bar I enjoy being in myself and I don’t want a temporary rage issue ruin this atmosphere.

I get the feeling that there’s two sides to big corporations owning and running the major games. On one hand it grants muscles, steady finances, continuity as opposed to a small, independent game you don’t know if it will be around the next day or not. On the other hand you risk mess-ups like this and a game community and culture that becomes more and more… diluted if you get what I mean..

: That post was epic and deserved all the attention it got. I bet someone at Blizzard read it too, and that it hit them at their heart.

Holycrepe said...

The comment you quoted was from the Instance blog. Larissa how naughty not to give the source.

I think it should be taken with a large grain of salt as it could just as easily be someone's theory which of course is much more plausable if prefaced with I know someone...

That said Real ID has not been scrapped and Activision-Blizzard will still be looking to deliver the WoW player base to the advertisers.

It has had an effect on me, this weekend I did not look forward to logging into WoW for the first time. The whole thing has left a bad taste in the mouth.

In the end I spent more time playing a new non-mmo I had downloaded from Steam.

There are still a number of blogs exploring the wider implications of recent events, even if the forums are now full of let's kiss and make-up

Is this dead...?
With the launch of the new, it’s important to us to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment -- one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships.

Greyshades blogged "I play WoW to kill internet dragons not to engage in social-networking" And I am totally in agreement with that.

Larísa said...

: nah, i don't read their blog, I just download the episodes. So it must have come from somewhere else. I always give proper linklove whenever I can, I assure you.

And yeah, I hope the grain of salt I added was enough.

Authentic or not though - I'm convinced that there are people inside Blizzard who don't like the development where we go from a game to a social network. And if we agree with them it's a good thing to support them, showing that at least a part of the playerbase hasn't asked for and doesn't approve of this change of direction.

Vigorless Fragmentary said...

Ha, yeah it could be. that would really make the whole thing even more brilliant!
I guess we call that a martyr then. ;D

Anonymous said...

I feel the greatest commentary, by far, was posted HERE: said...

I'm sure they will push forward.

My last remaining hope now is that they realize there is a difference between self-censorship Parental Controls) and privacy settings.

Stabs said...

I have enormous sympathy for the grunts in the trenches who may well have opposed this move internally just as vocally as we outside did.

As a company Blizzard just isn't the company I've been a fan of since Warcraft 1 and never will be again. It took this to make me see it.

I'll be fighting to remove all information about me from their system and may never play another Blizzard game. If I do decide to play one of their games it will be under a false name.

Valdu said...

Hey Larisa, Valdu here.

Thank you for the great blog, which (to my shame) I've only recently discovered.

I meant to get back to you earlier by way of thanks for your quoting my forum post in your July 8 piece 'Failing in trying not to think about it'.

Thank you.

It feels as if we're sitting squarely (or 'roundly' might be more apt) within the eye of a hurricane right now... the devastation having passed over our heads. We've constructed temporary shelters, grateful for a chance to escape the thing; clutching onto our fellows... but still mentally prepared for further trouble.

Like you, my own trust in the 'Blizzard' part of the company is slowly being restored (temporarily?). It will take some time and goodwill from both sides of the fence to get things fully comfortable again.

As far as Activision, and the soon-to-be two headed monster of Facebook/Activision are concerned, my feelings remain overwhelmingly negative.

I'm wondering exactly how 'opt-outable' the entire Facebook thing will be, once it goes fully live?
How long before a Facebook account is required in order to access certain features within the game?

However ridiculous and absurd it may seem, I still await the in-game product placement with interest. Let's just hope they're subtle about it.

Hatch said...

I don't think you went too far at all Larisa. Even though we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, the fact remains that Actiblizz tried to betray us and only backpedaled partly. Tycho of Penny-Arcade put it best:

"You should be careful about any kind of celebration, though: the third paragraph tells you why. They're still tying incredibly useful functionality to it, so this is the Public Relations equivalent of Aikido."

There's also no way that all of the Blizz staff was on board with this decision, and clearly the design team and artists are kicking ass and hard at work. IMO, the only people we should be mad at are the top executives. But the company as a whole is untrustworthy, and that's a natural reaction, because the awesome designers and such aren't in charge of the decisions around our personal info.

Dwism said...

Even before this whole thing, I think a lot of bloggers where aware that there was a growing difference between the people at work for blizzard, and those behind the scenes.
Maybe that was the good thing that came out of all of this? :)

I also want to add, that even though I felt (and still feel) tremedously bad on behalf of Bashiok, I doubt anyone put a gun to his head and forced him to post with his name claiming: "nothing bad can come of this". That is like going up to a 7 year old and saying: "i'll bet you can't eat all this ice-cream"... or saying that to me.

@hatch; i could not agree more.

Larísa said...

: That would be a good step forward. I wonder though if it solves everything. What I think I’d like to see is that you had to opt IN for the social network thing. And that the default setting would be NOT taking part of it. I wonder how many that would go for it if that was the case?

I have an uneasy feeling that for instance having many Facebook friends will give you in-game advanteges I the future. That kind of stuff. That the social network thing actually will change the gaming experience eventually.

@Stabs. It feels a bit unfair that if you want a false name you have to start from scratch on a new account. I so wish I could get a false identity for me and keeping my Larísa mage that I’ve put so many hours into. But alas – it seems impossible. :(

@Valdu: Valdu!!!! I can’t believe you found your way to this little corner of the universe. How cool isn’t that? You are SO welcome. I thought your forum post was great and deserved a bit of attention. You wrote that you doubted anyone would read it at all. I don’t know if the Blizzard people read it, but at least I could bring it to the readers of the PPI, and I was happy to do that.

Your description of our temporary shelter is beautiful. I think you have a talent for writing. Ever considered starting a blog? Anyway, if you won’t, it’s lovely to have you hanging around here.

Yeah, and about product placements… Tessy just wrote a fun little blogpost about a future equivalence of Spotify in WoW.

It’s not entirely seriously meant, but it’s thought provoking…

@Hatch: Aikido indeed. That’s what PR people do… I do it myself and seeing it with my professional eyes that was a pretty elegant manoeuvre tbh. Even though I don’t approve of it from my consumer/customer perspective.

@Dwism: As I said above, I even have a nagging thought that his real name posting might have been for a very different reason. But we’ll probably never know unless he grows famous and publishes his biography one day. And probably not even then. I believe the NDA covering the Blizzard staff is pretty serious business.

arewenewatthis said...

I have doubled respect for you for two reasons:

1. You found it in you to question your opinions and your actions and see if you had been wrong.
2. Despite this refreshing introspection, you realized you believe in what your had said and stuck to your guns. Bravo!

Secondly, I have been away for a week because of a job switch. But I am almost glad I missed most of the commotion... it seems I managed to avoid a lot of drama and mudslinging!

Sven said...

Thanks for bringing that Nachtjäger post to my attention. I guess we have no way of knowing for sure how accurate it is, but it feels plausible.

Talarian said...

I applaud you for sticking to your words, Larisa, and I don't believe that you were too harsh at all. To the poster who thought it was childish and won't come back, that's his right, and his loss. You won't please everyone, and honestly, you should be writing for yourself anyhow, not to placate others.

And I agree with the other posters: keep a close eye on Activision Blizzard. They're not done with the RealID stuff, and we need to watch they don't try something that removes any pretense of choice again.

Wiggin said...

I think the shock you, and many others felt, was due to Blizzard having set their own bar too high.

We as gamers put Blizzard on the highest pedistal in gaming. Leaps and bounds above most, it was as if, Blizzard could do no wrong.

I think we all at one time felt "I trust Blizzard will do the right thing." Sure, there are times when something might make us aprehensive, but in forsight, we see the advantage.

We saw the benefits of Real ID, but some of its aspects were too troubling. Some of its potential was too far. And for the first time, many of us realized, Blizzard is not infallable.

It isn't so much the single occurance that worries us, but the fear that our once divine Gaming developer was, in fact, mortal, capable of being persuaded by, what looked like greedy interests.

Stabs said...

@ Larissa You should be safe for now if you activate parental controls and disable RealID. I'm really not sure how long that will last as a work-around in the future though. If they get a lot of advertising revenue but advertisers complain about adults using an opt-out meant for children they could conceivably stop you doing that at some future date.

A slicker response might be to use the same surname. For example if you are Astrid Penny Smith but everyone knows you as Astrid Smith make an account for Penny Smith and transfer Larisa over. Make a separate penny smith gmail. There you go - an ID which isn't fake but which no one would recognise as yours. And your real world ID would prove that you are indeed Penny Smith should you need it to. And if someone spams every website in Sweden with news about what a ninja Penny Smith is just act shocked along with everyone else.

Gronthe said...

If you were being childish then so were a lot of other people, including me. Obviously I don't think you were, and I think it's alright if you don't have the same level of trust or confidence as you did before.

Usually rumors, whether the end product is true or not, often have some basis in reality. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot of internal debate and many Blizzard employees were none too happy with the Activision strong arm side of the company. The artists and designers didn't create or push RealID, they're trying to make a great game for us to play.

Whoever within Activision thought RealID was a good thing and making WoW into a social gaming experience was great are the idiots that have the right to be mistrusted. Anyone within Blizzard who stood up for the player has no trust to gain back, at least from me, because they didn't lose it.

It's ok to not paint with a wide brush.

Larísa said...

@Are we new at this: you’re not the only blogger to miss out this. I don’t know if I’m to congratulate you or regret it ;) Anyway: thank you for the kind words.

@Sven: Well, there’s no way to know. If it’s a fake it’s very well done. There was something in the way he put his words that made them sound credible to me. But then we don’t know if his source has the whole picture either. That’s the problem with this kind of second-hand-rumour sources.

: thanks. Yeah, I share your view and that’s what I answered him too. I write because I love to write and if there are people who like to read it – the better. But getting x number of readers isn’t what keeps me going. I have no ads and therefore no economical incitements to get overly worried about guests coming and going. I know I should be thick-skinned enough to not bother. Just look at Gevlon – how many angry I-quit-reading comments doesn’t he get, and he takes it with a shrug. But since this guy had been reading almost since the start of the blog and I recognized him very well I guess it still hit a nerve somewhere. I wanted to re-check and see if I in the heat of the battle had written stuff I really didn’t mean. But I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t.

@Wiggin: Actually I thought I was clear of that they are mortal before this happened. I think I’ve written about this in quite a few posts. How we want to believe, but in the end we know it’s business. But somehow it apparently still hadn’t sunk in to me entirely. Otherwise I wouldn’t have become this upset and emotional about it. I would have been far more cynical. I think that’s the sad thing about the entire story. It has added a little bit more to my cynical layer. It might be good to have but the cosy pink fluffy layer was way more comfortable.

@Stabs: I have disabled Real ID and gosh, it felt so weird to appear as the parent of myself. Kind of humiliating, I can’t pinpoint why. I so wish that they had made it the opposite way: if you wanted the Real ID stuff you would have to become parent of yourself and make a huge effort to make it work. It would make more sense. Because using it really should be something that you think over.

My problem with the surname is that there are 25 people in the entire world that carries my surname. And I’m the only one with my first and last name… Not much of an option.

@Gronthe: Well, obviously we were a bit childish since we now have to get into parental controls to get out of the Real ID…. The irony… While I suspect that many of those who were vocal about this belonged to the older part of the player base, we’re the one who technically have to become children now to be supervised not to use Real ID.

Anonymous said...

So I don't play WoW or any MMO (hell I only have time for iPhone games these days) but l find subcultures fascinating and have followed your blog off and on for a while.

If I can make an observation: you've been moving away from WoW for quite some time. It seems like you have consistently tried to reignite the spark of the game that captured your heart so long ago, but ultimately that doesn't seem to be working. I don't doubt you are alone in this, thus the gradual loss of harcore players over time and the overall feeling that WoW is in its twilight phase.

In any event, I have to question how much the "when" of this debacle has impacted the community reaction and fallout. To be sure, this was a real issue and yet another sign, to me at least, that as a culture we're about to push back against this public sharing motif in a big way. The pendulam is swinging back big time and the blowback and media exposure from this incident shows that many, many people are uncomfortable with relinquishing their control over their online identity.

However, beyond that, the hurt and sense of betrayal mixed with the outrage strikes me as being the last gasps of people that are finally being forced to accept that the game they loved is for all intents and purposes, over. Summer camp has ended. Or four years of college have come and gone and staying a few extra semesters can't extend the good times from freshmen or sophomore. It's like the Simon and Garfunkke song, April She Will Come. (aside, the use if that song in "The Graduate" was nothing short of brilliant by Mike Nichols.)

Anyway, I'll just give you a virtual hug from a total stranger who doesn't even play or really understand these games. I like your writing and your love for the game and pain at all of this really comes true.

If I can offer any advice, not that I was asked, it would be to say, remember that you pay for this game and experience. What that means is, if the drama and outrage and uncertainty becomes too stressful or upsetting, it's probably time to move on to another game or another pastime. Now, I'm pretty certain the subculture drama and politics is part of the appeal (it's why I read...I don't know what the hell a tank or a paladin or a mage is but the drama is fascinating to watch nonetheless, until it becomes clear stuff goes too far as with this), but the point of WoW is that it should be an outlet from stress, not something that causes stress.

Chin up. Enjoy LoTR and life.


Larísa said...

: I'm amazed and deeply touched that you find pleasure reading a blog totally dedicated to a game you even don't play or know about. If I even managed to get through and write something that is meaningful and interesting to a dedicated wow-player I'd be happy. And this....

But when I go to myself - yeah, I can find it fascinating too to peak into subcultures I don't even participate in. I just didn't know there were more people around who enjoyed that kind of sneaking around. In the end I suppose it doesn't matter that much what shell you put on it. We're all sort of fumbling around trying to understand who we are and what we're doing and what it's all about. We do it when we're 14, we keep doing it at 42 and I'm pretty certain we haven't got the answeres even when we've dinged 80 in real life.

There might be something in your observation that is true. You're not the first one to comment on the melancholical tone in my posts.
Maybe it is the WoW twilight that saddens me and so many others. We don't want the saga to be over quite yet. It's like when you read a good book and when you turn the last page you cry because it's the end. When I was a kid I actually - occasionally - reread the entire book instantly because I wasn't ready to separate from it quite yet. Maybe that's what we're doing with wow. Reading it over again.... but it won't sparkle quite as it did the first time. Diminishing returns (not sure if you get that term as a non-player.)

Maybe Cataclysm will be a cataclysm of wow and bring back the sparkle. Maybe it won't. We'll see. I guess what frightens me a bit isn't just to say farewell to the game, but to the community around it. The blogosphere. Everything.

Well... We'll see. When I'm ready to let go of WoW - be it this year, be it in 3 years - I'll think back of you. The reader who didn't eve play wow, but who probably understood me better than I was capable of myself.


Pai said...

Holy crap, you hit the nail on the head (for many of us, I think). WoW was the first MMORPG I played, and the guild I am in was the first and only guild I ever joined in it (still with many of the original members in it). There's a lot of sentimental feeling and ties that come from those two things.

And it -is- sad when you start realizing that somewhere along the five years of playing the game, something's been slowly lost. Whether it's the game changing or us changing, who knows? A bit of both perhaps. But it's sad, nonetheless.