Playing WoW for real

The decision of Blizzard, maker of the World of Warcraft, a blockbuster MMO game of the last decade, to introduce real ID in game wasn’t a big surprise for many (that doesn’t mean, though, that it didn’t annoy quite a lot of people). In response to the growing number of phising, spams, scams, and other type of abuses Blizzard forced the merges of the WoW accounts with battle.net, where the players had to use their real email addresses as the log-in information (and some people have immediately questioned the safety of this step itself).

I can’t really comment on the security issues, but I do know that such moves do impact the game experience itself. I remember similar debates (and actions) in Second Life, a virtual world by Linden Labs. There too the registration of the avatars became impossible without linking it to the credit card numbers (= real personal identity). I argue that it eventually destroys the whole point of games as imaginary transformative spaces. It will leave them, of course, as mere entertainment platforms (i.e., how they are seen by the majority of people, both outside and even inside the game-worlds). But their capacity to provide a new places for experimentation, including experimentations with your identity (-ies) might be lost, very unfortunately.

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