Blizzard Announces Real ID

One of the commonalities of an online presence is the ability to choose a new identity for oneself. It can be very freeing to conduct activities behind the facade of an avatar. However, that can also act as a screen for untoward behavior. Regardless of the particular behavior, it’s clear that people can and do make real relationships online, and many of these occur as a result of gaming alongside each other.

Blizzard Entertainment, creators of the most popular MMO ever made, World of Warcraft, understand this phenomenon, and have announced a new program designed to ” … (provide) you with advanced ways for forming and maintaining meaningful relationships with your friends on the service.”

Essentially, Real ID is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a way for friends to see each other’s real names alongside their game character’s names. Blizzard is hoping that this will encourage deeper relationships among users, though knowing someone’s real name alone probably won’t do that. What might be more influential is the way that Real ID friends will be able to see each other’s friends list of names, and have the option to send friend requests to those people as well.

If this isn’t exciting you, there’s also the ability for Real ID friends to message each other in-game across realms, across factions, and even across games — users will be able to speak to friends in Starcraft 2 from within World of Warcraft, for example. They will also be able to set status messages of what they’re currently up to in-game, so people won’t interrupt an important raid or other event.

Real ID is scheduled to launch with World of Warcraft patch 3.3.5, which as yet has no launch date.