‘Real’ ID

Having let my World of Warcraft subscription lapse for a little while, it’s taken until now for me to experience Blizzard Entertainment’s Real ID system first-hand. I am not in the least bit amused by it.

Since money is tight, it’s taken my friend’s kind donation of a StarCraft II guest pass for me to try this strategy game sequel out; these 14-day, 7 hour trials are included in retail copies of the game. The installer is a hefty download, but once set up it allowed me entry to a thoroughly polished game.

“StarCraft II” ‘s profile screen and Real ID rollouts.

Real ID, Blizzard’s new cross-game social system, comes into play quite early and is integrated heavily into the game’s UI. I was asked to sign in with my established credentials when the game launched, was invited to create my ‘character name’ (“Sinnyo”, naturally), and found myself signed in to the Real ID service. The tool appears in the bottom right of each screen, and works like most other IM messengers. You can view your contacts list, set away statuses, broadcast messages and create chat sessions with individuals and groups. These groups can also form multiplayer games, making it a powerful tool for co-operative skirmishes and competitions online.

Real ID also displays my ‘real’ name to the internet without my having a say in the matter.
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Coming Out: Serious Gaming

I’ve not really dealt with serious games before, on this blog or elsewhere, but an idea has struck me and I hope you’ll indulge me as I share it. Many such games deal with political ideas through education or simulation. There are very few which deal with social issues, possibly because they are a complex matter. Some such issues do appear in more generalised games, however:

Half-Life 2 deals with repression, both in its cyberpunk storyline and a thoroughly disadvantageous few minutes of play at its start. I’m sure most people will remember the City 17 station ‘metro cop’ who knocks a can to Freeman’s feet. In the mocking tone of one holding the high ground, he orders Freeman to pick it up. The player has the option to throw it back in his face, but Freeman is unarmed and easily bludgeoned with a cattle prod for his insolence. This short encounter sets the tone for a whole game about overcoming dictatorial power.

Beyond Good & Evil has a more political angle, exposing the perils of state-controlled media in a fantastical setting. Protagonist and freelance photojournalist Jade falls foul of the military during a vicious alien attack and winds up with a rebel network, out to expose far more than the government is letting on. Who’s really behind the Domz attacks, and why are innocents being abducted from the streets?

Of course, this is no less than what film is capable of dealing with, and film has the power to highlight more personal issues. What if games were tackle ideas like betrayal, love and social injustice head-on?

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Hello, Trade

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I had quite a delightful morning in World of Warcraft today. A school-age kid logged in, greeted we who lay dormant in the inter-city trade… Read More »Hello, Trade