Yet More Privacy Ruminations

So Overwatch is out and it is amazing. I love it. I play it basically as much as I can. I’m playing Lucio primarily, but am also enjoying Widowmaker and have dallied with Junkrat, Reinhardt, Hanzo and would like to play around with Mercy and McCree.

I typically play the game with friends, because friends make things a lot more fun and you also have a much higher success rate if you’re all on a voice chat together (we haven’t really used the in-game one, but I hear it’s not terrible) and there’s chatter. “There’s a Reaper top left window!” “Got it!” is just one example from a recent match wherein we were defending Hanamura Point B.

However, not all of these people are really my friends.

There’s Majik, of course, plus my brother, Fog.

Then I also play with Majik’s brothers, Sephden and ChaosMarine. Sephden used to be a raider with us in Apotheosis way back in the day, so I’ve known him for a while. I’ve only really known Chaos for a few months — although I did meet him at Majik’s wedding three years ago.

I also play with Palantir, who was also a raider of ours in Burning Crusade, and was Majik’s college roommate. He and Maj came up to Montreal a few years ago and so we hung out and we’ve played together a lot — but not for a number of years. (Although we did walk down the aisle together at Majik’s wedding.) He and Maj and my brother play a lot of League of Legends together. (Which I do not. For a lot of reasons.)

Then I play with three other people, all friends of Sephden’s or Chaos’. C, E and JollyPenguin. I think E (I could be wrong) was a short-term raider in Apotheosis in Burning Crusade, but I don’t know C at all and I only know JollyPenguin because we also played Minecraft together.

I even played a few rounds with Fusionsnake, who’s a friend of Sephden’s, who was a badass rogue of ours in Burning Crusade. (It was nice to chat with him for a bit.)

I am probably known for being extremely protective of my privacy and my BattleTag, yet I have recently decided to let a few, select people get added to my BattleTag list. At first, it was just Maj’s brothers. Then I added Palantir. My thinking is — hey, I’ve met them all “in real life”.

Fusion and C had requested I add them and I declined those, because while it’s nice to play with Fusion and I don’t mind playing with C, it’s like… I don’t really know you. Do I really want you to be able to see what I’m doing in Blizzard games at all times? No.

In fact, I don’t want anyone to see that at all times.

The more people you add as a BattleTag friend, the less privacy you have, period.

“So I saw you were hanging out in Stormwind,” Palantir said to me this weekend. “Making gold?”

Awkward. Yes, I was hanging out in Stormwind, yes, I was making gold (or trying to). But how did he… oh, right. We’re Battle.net friends now. As such, he can see:

a) if I’m online
b) what game I’m playing
c) what WoW realm and character I’m using and even which zone I’m in

True, I can see the same info of his, but I remain uncomfortable that anyone of my BattleTag “friends” can see detailed information. I posted my ideal solution, oh, four years ago, and it’s disappointing that essentially nothing has changed.

In fact, it’s gotten worse, because our BattleTags are clearly evident in the various official Blizzard forums. I’m never going to post on the official Overwatch forum because with one click, you can see all of someone’s posts — under their full BattleTag. True, you would have to accept the invitation, but I’m very guarded and I don’t want to be constantly spammed for invitations by random people. Would this definitely happen? No. But I’m long-winded enough and critical enough that it could happen.

Hell, Palantir spammed me by requesting to be friends over and over again. Thankfully, I only saw the one invitation, but if I’d declined each, I’d have gotten new ones repeatedly.

And those invitations follow you everywhere. You see it when you log in to WoW — so and so and requested to be friends.

You see it in the BattleNet app.

Yeah, I get it — someone requested to be my friend. Now knock it off.

And I’m not even someone who has problems with people stalking them. What about those people, who live in actual fear of people with malicious intents? Just having that information out there might not be a problem for you, but it is a problem for some.

While I appreciate the free BattleTag change (yay!) and I appreciate being able to play cool games with my friends, I would urge Blizzard, again, to please look into refining the system. Sometimes I don’t want my friends to know I’m playing WoW on a little-used alt. Sometimes I want to snipe people in Overwatch without my friends seeing I’m playing the game at all. Sometimes, I just want to play and not think about how I might offend someone if I didn’t accept their group invitation.

As I said in that old post, there’s no reason we should have to deal with these inelegant (at best) tools when it comes to human interaction. Blizzard can do better and we should encourage them to do so.

 

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