Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

I was a pretty late adopter of cell phones. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and phones at the time were just that – a bit big and clunky, nothing like the smart phones of today. They didn’t have games or any other distractions. I finally gave in to the cell phone trend when I moved away from home to go to college. My Mom insisted I needed one since I was moving to a larger city, as a safety measure. I got a “Pay as you go” type and hardly ever used the minutes on it.

Moving to the city was in itself a transition for me. I came from a town of about 70,000 people and moved to my city just as it was marking its millionth citizen. It’s not the biggest city, but it was a pretty large adjustment! As I made my way around my new city, exploring the downtown, taking the train and the buses, I was struck by a feeling: No one knew where I was. This wasn’t a scary realization, rather, it was liberating. In my old town, you couldn’t go to the grocery store without running into at least three people that you knew. This used to drive me crazy, especially because my mother worked at a school and knew hundreds of kids and their parents. It used to irritate me because I just wanted to go through the cereal aisle or whatever without having to always stop and chat. In my new city where I knew so few people, I could have a coffee, go draw in the botanical gardens, spend hours wandering around on my own and no one would bother me. I loved it.

I still carried my cell phone with me. But my distaste for it was driven home after an altercation with my father. Frustrated that he couldn’t reach me, he complained: “You never answer your cell phone! What’s the point of even having it?” I told him in no uncertain terms that I had a phone for emergencies and in case I needed to reach anyone. It was not a guaranteed way to get in touch with me. I wasn’t going to be at anyone’s beck and call. This was over ten years ago, mind you. Since I first reluctantly brought my clunky phone in my purse, smart phones and constant internet access have become an expectation. Twitter, e-mail, text messages, Facebook messages, instant messages and cell phones give people almost immediate access to each other. The introduction of Real ID into the Blizzard family of games lets you play with all of your friends – and don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic. But there are a few drawbacks.

The stoic refusal to introduce an invisible mode into Real ID (and now, I assume, Battle Tags within Diablo) has been a constant thorn in my side. Like when I first explored the city unattached, sometimes I want to play a game without someone knowing where I am. Suppose I wanted to roleplay on another server for awhile – all of my Real ID friends can see my character name, server, and zone. If I want to login to my bank alt and just spend some time auctioning, everyone can see that too. Even if I just want to make a silly lowbie alt and play quietly by myself, I can’t do that. I’m far from the first person to bemoan the lack of an “invisible” mode with Real ID. The counter-argument is, “Why are you playing an MMO if you don’t want to talk to people? Just don’t use Real ID if you don’t want anyone to bother you.” But that seems really ridiculous to me, and overly simplistic. A person might go to a coffee shop by themselves in real life and read a book or just sit. It’s not expected that anyone will just walk up and sit at their table and talk to them. “But why did you go to a coffee shop if you didn’t want to talk to people?”At another time, you go to a coffee shop with a friend to chat and catch up over a hot drink. You shouldn’t have to choose that you ALWAYS want to go for coffee only with friends, or that you always want to go for coffee always alone. If it wasn’t for Real ID, I wouldn’t be able to run five-mans and raids with friends from other servers and factions. I love Real ID. But there are times when I also hate it.

Because solitude doesn’t necessarily have to be anti-social. There should be room for stillness in every day life. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometimes. I really struggle with this because I get messaged a lot in Real ID. And the people I have in Real ID are my friends, so it’s not that I don’t want them there. But sometimes I just don’t feel like talking – and this even applies in real life. Voss knows more than anything, because he is more extroverted than I am. Sometimes I’ll be reading something quietly and he’ll be talking to me and after a few minutes of “Mmhm,” or me not responding he’ll say wryly, “You’re ‘peopled’ out, aren’t you?” He’s usually right. Being social takes energy from me. It’s possible to overdose on it. At those times, I really wish that Real ID had an invisible feature. It’s possible to manage your status with “Busy,” and “Away,” but that requires that people pay attention to your status and also respect it. It can be hard to tell a friend, “I just don’t feel like talking now,” without hurting their feelings or making it seem as if it’s something to do with them.

Now that I’m adding Battle Tags in Diablo III, it’s my understanding that the tags will carry over to the Real ID system in WoW, and I’ll be honest, I’m wary. I’m not quite sure why I need to be able to connect to to be able to just play Diablo by myself (as sometimes, I am going to want to do just that). Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to be able to play with a wider range of people than I had available to me on Real ID. I’ve met so many great folks via blogging and Twitter that I’d love to game with. But if I have you on either of those systems, don’t be surprised if someday I’m set to busy and I don’t respond to your messages, or I don’t tweet back at you right away, or immediately answer your e-mails. Sometimes I may deliberately let my phone go to voice mail, close my Twitter client, and sit quietly by myself. Since the days when I played Super Mario Brothers and Bubble Bobble, gaming has been an escape for me. I could sit for hours and play – and sometimes I’d play for hours with my Mom or a friend, too! I love shared gaming experiences, and I love solitary ones. With our current expectations of connectivity, it can seem radical or selfish to say “I’m not available at the moment,” but trust me – sometimes everyone needs a little space to get lost in the world, virtual or otherwise. Diablo III seems like it’ll be a blast to play with other people, and also solo. I promise to respect your “Busy” tag if you’ll respect mine, since it doesn’t seem like invisibility is on the horizon anytime soon.

Comments on: "Solitude and the Advent of Battle Tags" (34)

  1. Real ID/BattleTags are an odd thing for introverted, socially awkward folks like me. I have both my guild officers, a couple coworkers and one tweep on my Real ID list, and other than the guildies, I never use it. I actually got into an argument with a friend a couple years ago because even though I have tons of people on my GoogleTalk/AIM lists, I will not IM anyone. I’ll gladly sit and talk to people for hours, but they have to IM me first. Otherwise, maybe I’m interrupting something or maybe you’re busy or maybe you just don’t want to talk to me! Right now I’m posting this comment while my D3 character is stuck at a boss fight, and although I have two BattleTags friends logged on, I’m scared to death to IM one of them and ask for help. Who knows? Maybe my D3 career will be over before it even started since I’m too scared to ask for help. What’s an introvert to do?

  2. I whole-heartedly agree with everything you’ve said here, and I definitely understand the small-town “everybody knows you” feeling. My home town only has a population of about 19,000 and *both* my parents were teachers. I am lucky, however, in that most of the people that I have friended understand that when I’m set to Busy that I’m, as you put it, “peopled out”.

  3. Bubble Bobble! ❤

    I love this post so much. Like you, sometimes when I log in I just want to do my own thing. I hate it so much when I get a tell the minute I log in from someone if I'm in a mood to just be alone. I would love the option to be invisible to everyone outside of my guild sometimes. Not that I don't love people, I do, just sometimes I want to veg and don't want have to worry about pleasantries or conversation – and I don't think there is anything wrong with that!

  4. Count me as another “agree” person 🙂 I don’t have much to add beyond that; it’s just nice to know there are others like me out there. It’s taken me 30 years but I’m finally starting to realise that it’s not unusual to want to be alone sometimes.

  5. You and I are a lot alike, I think. I only carry a cell because of work, and since you know my type of work, you know why I prefer times when I can’t be found.

    I would love the invisible capability of Real ID, because there are times when I do want to mess around without anyone knowing what I’m up to. Right now, my only solution is to simply not login to WoW or any other Blizzard app. I’m fine with that –there are other games, after all– but I’d like the capability to do that in a Blizzard game too.

  6. I love the post, and couldn’t agree more with it. So far the best we have is “busy”. Like you, the best I can do for now is respect others when it’s set, and hope they respect mine.

  7. Indeed, I have been wondering what I should do with my battle tag since it got generated. So much of my time spent in the previous versions of Diablo was solo and so immersed in the story and the mood that I failed to notice the passage of time in the real world, that I bristle a bit at the idea of somebody being able to interrupt that. I would hand my battle tag out freely if there was an offline mode to the game. But being online only now, I wonder what to do.

  8. Jennifer said:

    Another +1 here.

    I’m actually very lucky with my real ID. I only have 4 RealID friends – two hardly ever play, so when they do log on, I like to be able to *tackleglomp* them. Another is my aunt and a third my best friend. My aunt hardly ever whispers me unless she has a question or wants to know why I’m online and not at work >.> and my best friend knows that I like to do my own thing sometimes – for that matter, he does, too. But I’m also very reserved about who I give my RID out to. My aunt has several mutual friends on RID and I should be excited to get in touch with them since I am now on a different server, but I haven’t been willing to. I’m on a different server for a reason and though they were not that reason, it’s still a clean break that I want to keep clean.

    As for D3, I don’t plan on using the battle tags except with Brandon (my best friend). Somehow I don’t think he’s going to let me play D3 by myself. 😉

  9. I feel the exact same way! There were times back when I still played WoW where I would restrain myself from logging in because I wanted to be on my alt, alone, doing quests. So I would go on another game where I knew I could play by myself without having to answer multiple /w. I play SWToR now and the Friend List is managed the “old fashioned way”. You want to play on your own? Create a new alt and don’t give his/her name to your friends just yet. I miss that alternative in WoW…

    For now, I haven’t registered my D3 copy yet, and I am still wondering if I should create another account or not. I do need some “alone” time once in a while and I know most of my friends will be on D3 almost 24/7 for the next months or so… I do like to play with them but some are … well… they are demanding too much attention some times…

  10. I have no problems with no “Invisible” or “Appear Offline” feature with RealID/Battletags. Diablo 3 and WoW are multiplayer games by nature (Though one could argue differently for Diablo – I wish there was an offline mode if not for the fact of “What if I’m on a plane or somewhere with no net?”) so it makes sense that when you log on to play that you’re available and visible for other people on your friends list.

    Imagine before you when RealID/Battletags didn’t exist you had a friends list of people on your server. Now if you had an “Appear Offline” option you’re not online according to their friends list… lo and behold they’re able to run up and see your toon right there in game – which means that having an appear offline feature useless.

    I understand that you like to have your “me” time and to “get away” from things, but you really can’t use that as any sort of excuse when you log onto an online oriented game. I certainly have those moments as well, in that case I simply choose not to log on and go do something else.

    For example when you play Bubble Bobble, you have the option to play by yourself or with someone, but they’re right beside you and you’ve more than likely invited them to play. Unlike WoW, it’s not you control Bub while someone across the country is controlling Bob and that’s the way it has to be played. The entire premise of WoW is to communicate and play with other people, I don’t think it makes sense for you to be able to completely shut yourself out from that world.

    The last thing you said should just be common courtesy. If someone is flagged as Busy I won’t message them unless it’s of absolute importance.

    • The “appear offline” option used to be secret alts. There’s no such thing with Real ID.

      There’s also a difference between wanting to play a BG or LFD with strangers and being visible to people who know you. Sometimes, I want to play with other people; I just want to do it anonymously.

    • Although WoW is an online multiplayer game, a lot of the activities invented by the playerbase, and even encouraged by the developers, are solo-oriented. Just look at the sudden disappearance of group quests in the revamped zones! When you log in you’re in an online community, like if you went to, say, a gaming convention, but being online doesn’t suddenly strip away your privacy, just like you can expect to walk around a convention without people accosting you every other step. You make yourself “available” IRL by approaching people or doing something that invites comment. You make yourself available in game by messaging people or joining group activities like dungeons. The point of the game isn’t to interact with others via chat channels – if it were there wouldn’t be a whole game designed around it. It’s possible to play the game without interacting with anyone at all, and sometimes that’s what people prefer.

  11. I’d love to maybe play some games with you, if adding will be possible (but it should, it’s Global anyway -but can’t login right now so… :S

    Oh and I know how you feel, I’m very much the same. I love talking to my guildies and my friends but there are times where I just want to be left alone to relax or leveling an alt or whatever I’ll wanna do alone.

  12. I think that was one of the biggest drawbacks for Real ID in the beginning, and why I didn’t friend anyone that I didn’t know IRL for most of the first year that it was available. I just didn’t want people to know who my bank toons were. Or who I was playing on any given day. There are times when this actually bothers me even today.

    There’s always that friend who sends you messages even AFTER you tell them you’re busy. They keep spamming you with 3-5 word messages, cause typing doesn’t seem to happen in anything but short bursts. And then you have those people who always ALWAYS message you right as you pull a boss and even after DBM tells them you’re in the middle of something, they insist on just… y’know, chatting anyway.

    An invisible mode would be amazing. So amazing. And the nay-sayers who think you should just not use it as the only other option to implementing an invisible mode… Really? It shouldn’t be an all or nothing option. Thank you for writing this.

  13. Back when I was the main tank/guild leader/raid leader for a 25m guild, I had no escape. I needed to be available most of the time to do my job for the guild, but I also needed some time to get away, for my sanity. After struggling with being *too* available for a long time, the way I resolved it was to simply make it extraordinary clear that if I had something along the lives of “Private Time” in my status box, I was off-duty, and not to be bothered: any messages were to be sent outside of the game, or via mail, which I could check at my leisure. It didn’t always work, but a quick explanation when someone ignored my request usually took care of things, and it went a long way towards allowing me to have a bit of breathing room.

    That said, there’s really no excuse in my mind for not allowing you to play in offline mode, or deactivate RealID without removing everyone from your list.

  14. I 100% agree with the sentiment that sometimes you want to play with others, but sometimes you want to be alone. I get people’d out as well. :/

  15. I kind of agree, there are sometimes when I really wish I could just log in and not be visible so I can just muck about without anyone knowing I am there, and honestly there are times when I don’t log in when I want to play because I just don’t want to have to talk to people. I totally get the ‘sometimes I just wanna game all by myself without having to interact with anything but the game.’

  16. shaenus said:

    The solution is to set yourself to “busy” or “away” or whatever the label is and just not worry if people try to contact you. You’re not being rude for ignoring them if your intent was to be alone and I seriously doubt anyone will take it that way. Those who do get offended by the lack of response, despite the clear signs that you don’t want to be bothered, well, screw ’em. They’ll get over it. 🙂

    That said, this is the precise reason I don’t seek out a legion of online friends. The only ones I’ve added to my ReaID and other various “HEY LOOK I’M PLAYING A GAME ONLINE!” services are those who I consider actual friends and not just people I know. Even if I like a person I frequently interact with online, that doesn’t automatically move them to my list of people who I care to make aware of my activities.

  17. I’ve solved this by having one person on real ID (my best friend who understands my need for alone-time and is also in my raiding guild) and keeping a set of toons on another server where I have not made friends. This lets me play mostly alone when I want to.

    I do think Battle Tags are an improvement over version 1 of real ID but I’m still not going to add people to my list until they allow me to login and put about all by myself.

  18. I can’t agree with this enough. This is exactly why I never shared my Real ID with anybody. And yet, it was painful, because it’s like so close and yet so far…being able to connect with friends would have been wonderful. As long as you don’t mind never having privacy again. :/

  19. Frigidus said:

    I haven’t played WoW or Starcraft II for about half a year now, so the whole Real ID thing had almost slipped my mind. Now that I’ve bought Diablo III, however, I’m once again visible to everyone I know in real life that has played a Blizzard game. Even if I were to accept Blizzard’s assertion that MMO’s are designed to be social games (there’s a difference between being social and being in contact with someone 100% of the time I’m playing something) I shouldn’t be forced to show up as online when I’m playing through the campaign in Starcraft II or when I just want to play solo in Diablo III. I can’t think of any other service in the world does this. Even Facebook gives yourself the ability to privately browse. I am genuinely baffled by their stubbornness on this issue.

    I’ve heard the argument that I should just not add anyone I don’t know personally, but what should I do about acquaintances I’ve met in real life asking for my Battle Tag? Should I say, “whoa, I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment”? Why is having awkward conversations about how I don’t want to spend time with people a prerequisite to being able to have a friend’s list (to my knowledge there’s no way to have a friend on Diablo III without them knowing your online status)?

    Sorry if I come off as frustrated, but it just wears me out. I’m not exactly a social butterfly.

  20. Being social takes energy from me. It’s possible to overdose on it.

    ^This so much…
    I’m also an introvert so I can relate to your feelings; but unfortunately, most people are extroverts (according to statistics)… and the problem with extroverts is that most of the time they just can’t comprehend how is it possible to find the company of people you love tiring.

    After strunggling with this problem during my teenage years, I finally came to the conlcusion that if I don’t want to talk, I will simply tell people “Sorry, I feel like being alone at the moment.” It takes a bit of courage ~ but if those people really care for you, they usually try their best to understand that it’s not personal and leave you alone without feeling offended.

  21. JD Kenada said:

    I’m another one among the masses who would just the same like to be able to silently log in on occasion. I have a pretty large Real ID circle and it’s incredibly rare anymore for me to log on without at least 1-2 other people on (sometimes many more than that). I love them all dearly but might just be on to do the cooking daily, or check my bank alt.

    One minor solution for me was Trial WoW. I signed up for it ages ago when the idea of not paying to play first crossed my mind. I made the discovery one day that I can run MogIt on the trial version and it still shows me all the data from the game (gear 1-85). So if I’m doing MogIt stuff for Amateur Azerothian, that’s usually where I’ll go. When you’re on trial you can’t use Real ID. It’s not a full on solution, but it is an immense help when I don’t want to be rude or bothered…or need some quick stuff for a blog post.

  22. I just wrote a blog post myself on this very thing. I do wish for an “appear offline” or invisible status for times when I want to just play alone or don’t want to commit.

  23. Aralosseien said:

    While most of my RealID friends are guildies, so we can all keep chatting while we alt (or play a different game, now!), some are from Twitter or RL friends. I’ve been really lucky not to feel pressured so far, but I did turn the ‘joinable games’ option off in Diablo and I’ve started setting it to ‘busy’ more often. Doing that used to feel rude but I’m slowly realising it’s not at all. I’d still love an invisible setting though – even the silent presence of RealID/battletag people who know what you’re doing can make it feel like you’re never alone!

  24. While, technically speaking, choosing not to participate in Real ID is an option, it doesn’t account for the times where you may want to be more social. Having an “Appear Offline” type option for Real ID/BattleTags would be able to accomodate everyone.

  25. meaghan4306 said:

    I totally wish they would add invisible mode…. Sometimes I just want to play a game by myself without being pestered. Even if I’m doing a LFR or a LFD or a BG, I just want to get lost among the strangers and play ‘alone’ if that makes any sense? I don’t want that guy in my guild asking why I didn’t invite him along for LFR, or those others constantly asking if I want to do BGs or a dungeon, or if they can come along when I’m trying to do mount runs in old raids… Sometimes it seems a bit selfish, but that’s how it is.

    When I first started dating my fiance, whom I met on WoW, actually, I had some toons that I wanted to play by myself. I was in that stage where I didn’t want to do everything with him, and I still don’t all the time, especially considering he doesn’t play anymore. Yet at that time, before battle tags were released, I remember that feeling of him finding out that I had a toon he didn’t know about… haha. 😛 It’s a bit silly, but we’re all silly in relationships. That even goes for friends who you play a lot with. It’s like… “you’ve been online and I didn’t know!? you don’t want to hang out with me?” *:o* And I just don’t understand how they can’t understand alone time! Secret, alone time.

    There is oh so very little of it in this day and age…

    Oh cursed Real ID.

  26. […] a few days ago Vidyala over at Manalicious posted about RealID. It’s a really well done post about how RealID has impacted her and how she plays. In the comments there are quite a few others chatting about it, mostly […]

  27. They purposely decided to leave it out.

    It was a calculated decision, im sure the weighed the risk of pissing off customers to the benefit of constant free player to player cross realm advertising with no invisible mode.

    Starcraft 2 players asked for this for a long time as well, blizzard completely ignored them too.
    Its ridiculous because I know many amateur and professional starcraft 2 players who had to buy 2 cd key’s so they could train/practice in peace. Blizzard knows about this and im sure they looked at it as a good thing since it forces some players to buy 2 copies which means more money.

    They are trying to repeat it with diablo 3, they know we’ll probably eventually stop complaining, and even if we do quit buying blizzard products, the amount of new customers they will get with the ceaseless spam of hundreds of thousands of players spamming each other to “buy this new blizzard game” will make up for the loss and then some.

  28. I understand what you mean, and when I want to play alone I tend to set my status to Busy and respond to play requests with “No thank you, i just want to play by myself”.

    I’m a clinically depressed introvert that works retail. After a shift of working in the public, I just want to click-squish on my own — just because Diablo 3 is online doesn’t mean I should have to make myself available for everybody. It’s online mainly for Auction House connectivity, and since I paid for the game, it should be my choice of what to do with it — just like it should be my choice what to do with my WoW time, whether it’s solo questing or dungeon-clearing, achievement hunting, or choosing (CHOOSING) to join a group and do something.

    So yeah, I feel you there, and I really wish there was an invisible mode in WoW and in D3.

    I’m glad I still have Diablo 2 for this purpose, as well, and other online games where people don’t know who I am.

    I feel the same way as you do re: living in the city, btw, and it makes me intensely uncomfortable having people know exactly what I’m doing all the time.

  29. […] Vidyala‘s post: – Solitude and the Advent of Battle Tags […]

  30. […] much you are willing to share as well as talked about her decision to disable real ID. Vidyala has pondered how real ID has interfered with her “me” time, when she just wants to be alone and Rohan questioned how an invisibility system might cause problems, and offered some […]

  31. […] in May when Diablo came out, I wrote a post  bemoaning the lack of an “Invisible” feature on Battle Net. Well, today I arrive with good news: They are going to be implementing an invisible feature for […]

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