TogethernessJuly 13, 2010
As we all know, last week Blizzard made their dubious announcement to implement Real ID on their official forums, prompting consumer outcry and so much gamer rage that they quickly and astutely rescinded the decision a mere couple days later.
Before I continue, I just want to make it clear that I feel they did the right thing for reconsidering. I’m still a strong advocate for using caution when revealing any kind of personal information to anybody on the internet, as you can never really know how it can be used against you. But the anti-Real ID opinion was so negative and pervasive for a while there, I know I for one was starting to convince myself that the only people who exist on the internet are sickos and freaks who are all out to get me. Don’t get me wrong, the sick freaks are certainly out there, but the reality is, the majority of strangers you encounter on your online journeys will probably turn out to be perfectly normal people.
I think back to my own experiences, and for the most part, playing World of Warcraft has led me to meet some pretty decent people, some of whom I even call my friends. This shouldn’t be too surprising. When you take a group of individuals with a common interest, sometimes friendships bloom. And sometimes, you fall in love. It’s no secret to regular readers of this blog that I met my husband over WoW, and we’re definitely not alone in this. “WoW couples” are becoming more and more commonplace, and there are three of four other ones in my current guild alone. Truth is, I’ve seen WoW match more people than eHarmony. But here’s the difference between an online game and some dating site — first of all, you certainly don’t start off planning to fall in love, and you can’t choose who you might fall in love with. In my case, it just happened. And he happened to be American.
God knows it would have been so much easier if he had been a nice Canadian boy who lived several towns over so we could just move in together, keep our jobs, our friends and everything else in our lives intact when we got married, but noooooo. We’re both on the east coast at least, but while I’m aware our situation is better off than say, a WoW couple from United States and Australia or even a couple from California and Vermont, having to frequently commute across an international border to be with each other was still a royal pain in the ass and obviously wasn’t something we could sustain forever. As much as it’ll hurt to leave all my friends and this beautiful and beloved city that I’ve called home for the last 15 years (tears come to my eyes just to think about it), a mutual decision was made for me to move to the United States.
Earlier yesterday, I had my interview at the US Consulate General to conclude the final step. The consular official of course asked how the two of us met, and we answered honestly “Playing World of Warcraft” coupled with sheepish grins. The CO who was a really nice guy looked at us and smiled, said “You’d be surprised how much I hear that, though I gotta say you two don’t look like your typical WoW players.” I was so tempted to ask him what he meant by that, but the conversation turned to WoW in general. He asked if we still played, joked about how interesting it was that I’m the woman and I play the tank (sigh, can’t escape that anywhere), and how in this day and age it’s becoming more common to meet your spouse on the internet and even in online games. MMOs, he said, with their emphasis on cooperation and interaction are especially good at bringing people together. I couldn’t agree more. The times have changed indeed; just look at the way WoW and meeting my husband has managed to turn my life completely upside down. But it’s all good, definitely good, even if it’ll mean absolute hell for me in the next week as I deal with the dreadful chaos and logistics of packing and moving all my crap across the border (as such, gaming time and thus blog posts may become a little sparse).
The CO asked me a few more questions after that just to make sure everything was in order and then told me I was approved. So it’s official. I’m moving. I turned to my husband and gave him a big hug, looked him in the eye and thought to myself, sometimes getting to know people in WoW can have good outcomes too. It also made me realize once again how unnecessary Real ID is. I’ll never opt in for it because I don’t believe you need real names to form and foster relationships, even the most committed and serious ones. Let people use the anonymity of an online game to build those connections on their own terms, at their own pace, by their own choice. If Blizzard wants to turn their games into social networks, fine…but I feel the best relationships are always going to be the ones you least expect.