July 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Real ID on their official forums, prompting consumer outcry and so much gamer rage that they quickly and astutely rescinded the decision a mere couple days later.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.


  1. We’ll miss you, but the US is a great place, too. Yes, I’m probably one of the few Canadians who think that.

    What’s surprising is that you guys were separated geographically even after you got married? Whooooaaaaaa……

    • Well, separated most of the time, but thanks to the relatively short distance between us and cheap flights, we were able to see each other almost every weekend. Essentially, yes we were separated, but I also realize that what we had was lot better than most long distance couples can manage. It was still stressful though, and this has been going on ever since we first met, so I’m glad it’s finally going to be over.

    • Oh, P.S. I’m going to miss Canada but I’m sure I’ll be visiting a lot…my brother and friends are still here, after all.

      I’m also going to be raiding the closest Tim Horton’s and buying up a ton of boxes and tins of tea and coffee before I leave. πŸ˜› I heard they closed down a lot if not all of their stores in the States this past year.

  2. This story made me smile. πŸ™‚

    Honestly though, I couldn’t imagine living away from my spousal unit if I was married.

    So *hugs* to you. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ We’d been doing this for a long time, so now I’m sooooo happy.

  3. The simple fact is that online, identity and your name are not inextricably linked the way they are in real life. I am Dhalphir on WoW. However, I am not always known by that name in other games. However, its still the same person behind the screen. I still enjoy talking to the same kind of people, and make the same kind of friendships. Knowing someone by a pseudonym does not automatically prevent strong friendships forming where you eventually share real names, nor does sharing real names automatically mean a strong friendship.

    At the end of the day, whether you use a pseudonym or a real name to identify with someone you speak to online, that person being your friend is totally separate to the name you use to identify them.

    In many of my guilds, we all knew each other’s real names after a short period of time of the person being in guild. Some people were referred to by that name ingame. Some were still referred to by their pseudonym. It just felt normal, and it makes no difference to the actual relationship you have with that person, be it friendly or romantic.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s never about the name (real or pseudonym) for me; what matters is the person behind it. In light of this, real names, fake names, Real ID, none of it actually matters when it comes down to it. The fact of it is, MMO players already know how to form strong relationships and networks with the people they play with, there’s no need to install a system to make a game more like a social network to “help” us along. Something like facebook integration just seems superfluous.

  4. At the risk of sounding all soppy and destroying the manly image I’ve being masquerading behind on the web, I want to say that your post was truly beautiful and moving. And you’re dead right: people are already finding each other online, why do we need something like Real ID to force identity exposure on us? My feeling is that by taking away the safety of anonymity and the ability to decide who we want to share our information (and lives) with would be more hurtful to the community than the trolls on the forum.

    I don’t know what the US immigration laws are like but if it’s anything like the UK then I can appreciate the hoops you’ve had to jump through πŸ™‚ My wife is on a spouse visa here and will be applying for permanent residency soon which involves taking a “Life In the UK” test to determine if she understands the rules of cricket, when the appropriate time for tea is and the history of our monarchy. The crazy thing is, I’m not making any of that up πŸ™‚

    • Well, I’m happy to hear that you appreciated my post and that it touched you πŸ™‚ And no wonder, as it sounds like you and your wife have been through some kind of immigration process as well.

      US and UK laws might be different, but am I correct to assume that you had to go through a mountain of paperwork as well? πŸ˜› Because we certainly did! So many forms and documents and letters and certificates and oh my god. The process took us a year from beginning to end, and while I understand why it is is necessary, I admit sometimes the frustration got the better of me.

      Anyway, I’m not sure, but your wife sounds like she’ll be going through something that would be the equivalent of naturalization in the States to become a citizen. That’s not something I have to worry about for a while, but the thing about cricket and tea time sure is funny! πŸ˜€

      • The visa she’s going for doesn’t give her citizenship but does allow her to live here forever without restriction. It’s a good compromise because she can keep her Japanese passport and nationality.

        Paperwork was a bitch as have been the costs. The next visa is going to cost us over Β£1000!! Crazy…

  5. I’m glad for you and a little jealous as well. My WoW to real life adventures haven’t turnoud out really well. Grats!

    PS: you did the move the wrong way! you needed to bring him over here

    • Oh believe me, there were a few moments where we considered having him move here to the true north strong and free πŸ˜› But in the end he has a lot more ties to his home than even I do up here. Thus it was decided.

  6. You know what one of the nice things about knowing someones real name would be? You wouldn’t date a woman for a year or more and then find out they are a man or something.

    Grats on getting accepted and welcome to the United States. We aren’t perfect, but I’m sure we get something right. πŸ™‚

    • LOL!

      And thanks, you’re actually like the second person to welcome me to the USA (after the CO of course) πŸ˜€

  7. Wonderful. Awesome! I am so glad you two are able to be together. I know the immigration process is long, my brother went through it with his wife.

    My GF and I met on eHarmony, but played WoW extensively for a while, instigated by me. We were apart for a while, long story there, and the account she played on is not active; though she was asking this weekend about playing again. We live about an hour apart, and the distance can be rough, especially given my travel schedule.

    But congratulations again. πŸ˜€

    • Thanks, I remember you asking a while back about the move and the progress and I really appreciated it.

      With us, we definitely used WoW and vent as our primary means of communication when we were apart. Sure we could have used a chat program and talked on the phone, but being able to see an avatar and do things in-game together made us feel closer for some reason πŸ™‚

  8. its 900$ to fly from NS to AZ, but I guess that isn’t why it didn’t work out. Glad you two could keep it together.

    • Ouch, 900 bucks? Yeah we were a lot more fortunate…have you heard of Porter (they do flights out to NS too I think)…we had it much easier because of them.

  9. The problem isn’t so much the exposure of personal information, you want to share, go for it. It was the apparent lack of thought and the removal of choice by Blizz on whether I released my and the implications for their direction in the future.

    (Met my other half online, she moved 9,000 miles to marry me 13 years ago πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, I don’t think Blizzard thought it through at all before they announced it, and that’s a problem because it does indicates to me a disconnect between them and their customers.

      And congrats to you and your wife for 13 years πŸ˜€

  10. congrats. finally!

  11. I met my wife on the Internet. I think the way we met, and how we shared about our lives made this probably the best way to meet someone.

    And we are both avid MMO players now. (lol)

    I think being “social” means we need to have some skill. Whether in person or online…but, in our OWN way. I personally was never trained as a stalker, but RealID felt like a gateway drug to me. Imagine the capability to find out more about the people you game with, and without their permission? Sucks.

    Internet relationships can work…but, on OUR grounds, and not because someone decided to rat us out.

    • I know what you mean…I think in the case with a lot of my friends on the internet and in games, I find out more about their history and personality long before I find out about their real names. Kinda goes back to the whole argument that it’s the identity that matters, not the label. In fact, real names can end up actually affecting a way a relationship can form because it can reveal gender, ethnicity, and a slew of other information if the person is inclined to google it, leading to preconceptions. In most cases I think our screennames are sufficient in allowing people more of a chance to know each other for who they really are, sometimes just “reading” a person’s personality and mannerisms online can tell you a lot.

  12. Welcome to the States! πŸ™‚

    Try to focus on all the cool stuff you’ll be getting once you move. Like Hulu and easier shipping for Amazon stuff. πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and meeting through the internet is definitely more common now. My wife and I met through Match.com about six years ago (ish) and even then, I don’t recall having anyone comment on it as being strange.

    • Oh and don’t forget Netflix. Streaming Netflix πŸ˜€

  13. That was a particularly cool story. You are right that we’ve been forming relationships behind our silly screen names for a long time. Anonymity has even made it easier for me to come out of my introversion and make friends sometimes.

    • That’s a good point too. It reminds me of a comment I heard the other day mentioning how WoW is like a halfway point or a stepping stone to forming friendships, because you sign up for it to have fun and play games, and not necessarily to make friends…but when the friendships do happen, they happen on their own and not because you’re under any kind of social pressure to attract or impress others.

  14. Great stuff, gratz and welcome.

    (Shhh, don’t tell any of my countrymen but…. turn back, turn back now. Or can I have your vacancy spot in Canada. : p )

  15. I completely agree with your premise. I met some really great people in WoW, some of whom I still keep up with even though I haven’t played in a year. The social apects of the game works just fine as is. I find cool folks and avoid letting asshats know who I am.

    Congratulations, and good luck, on the move πŸ™‚

  16. Great story and good luck with the move and getting adjusted.

  17. I’ll probably be the only one to say it. But with trolls on every corner on WoW’s forums, and the fact that people get haxxed everyday of the week over that game, if they’ll take steps to protect your account that way, why not trust them with your forums. They’re just forums for petesakes. I’ve seen STO’s forums and they’re outta control with just brazen hatred for NO OBVIOUS REASON.

    Sure, this is rampant in forums everywhere, but there’d be alot less loud mouthed, hair brained, bitch made assclowns trolling around if everyone could figure out where to find em and where to stick their spiked bats. It would make feedback much more comprehensive, and for those who wanna be E-Thugs and such, if your balls are really that big, go for it.

    The ones who outcried were the normals along with the annonymous nubs, so they had to shut it down, but in all honesty, it wasn’t that big of a deal for the normals, it’s supposed to help them out more than it does harm them, though i can see the good and the bad with it, i say the good outweighed it….what a tragedy.

    P.S. Nice story πŸ˜› But soooo mushyyyyy, ewwww. I got my Ex-Gf to play WoW with me and it only caused SOOO many problems with trust, protecting her in vent with so many misc. people hating on her Mut-Rogue Skillz, and her peace of mind, i think it contributed to our downfall, but it’s a long story.

    • Aww, and here I thought I downplayed the mush πŸ˜› Trust me, it could have been a lot worse, I’m as sentimental as they come πŸ˜€

  18. A touching story and a new beginning it seems too. WoW is really a strange world indeed.

  19. Congo Rats. πŸ™‚

  20. Hey there! I finally caught up in reading your blog! I’m SO happy to hear that everything went well at the interview!! I love you both! Big hugs! πŸ™‚

    • Hey Marcela, thanks! Yeah, I’m so glad we’re finally together for good πŸ™‚

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