Consider the following two statements on a guild application:
- To facilitate contacting players as needed, all raiders are require to add the raid leader as a friend on their real world Facebook account.
- To facilitate contacting players as needed, all raiders are required to add the raid leader as a RealID friend on battle.net.
The former statement would probably raise some red flags with most people, though Uncle Ferrel's stories from his days as an elite EQ1 raider suggest that they're not unprecedented in MMORPG history. By incorporating the functionality into the default UI using the Battle.net RealID friend system, along with newly announced Facebook integration, Blizzard has legitimized the latter (which effectively leads to the former).
I've written before about real world privacy consequences of linking your gaming to your real life identity. This new push - all character alts in all Blizzard games will be included - adds in consequences for your virtual life as well. Spinks observes that we may be seeing the end of the virtual identity.
For some players, this type of functionality might be a good thing. I would be happy with allowing the raid leader in my WoW guild to contact me on my WoW alts in the event that there's a vacant slot in a raid that needs any warm body (the only circumstance under which I would potentially be worth bringing along). However, this would expose my real name to all of his realID friends, which I would be less thrilled about. And, as with any social networking oversharing, the consequences of making the "wrong" decision may not be immediately obvious at the time the player makes them, and may be hard to correct in any discreet fashion.
The unfortunate part is that there is nowhere for players to hide. Every game out there has its own web portal these day, and we can expect sites like Sony's Station, Turbine's my.game.com (my.ddo and my.lotro), and Bioware's version (used in Dragon Age and presumably SWTOR) to include Blizzard's new features ASAP in a push to gather more marketing data. If the genre is changing for the worse, players have no alternative other than to give up gaming and go take up books (until someone starts releasing iPad and Kindle-only books that require Facebook integration, which may not be that far off either).