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Privacy Games

Blizzard Adds Timestamps To WoW Armory 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-your-boss-doesn't-know-your-character-name dept.
Kharny writes "In a move that could cause serious privacy problems for players of World of Warcraft, Blizzard has added timestamps and an RSS feed to the game's online armory site. This new feature will mean that anyone can follow 'real-time' developments in a World of Warcraft character, which display the exact time and date, so that others can see that person's playing habits. Many players have already complained about the fact that there is no opt-out setting, and this opens very big possibilities for online stalking."
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Blizzard Adds Timestamps To WoW Armory

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  • by Poobar (1558627) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:32AM (#30817598)

    Situation: I am being "cyber-stalked".

    Solution: Log off WOW.

    Solution 2 (If you really need your MMORPG fix): Switch to a different character.

    Why would a person knowing where you are in a fictional landscape ever be a problem anyway? Surely there's some kind of ignore button in WOW (correct me if I'm wrong, I only played the free trial before getting bored), so even if they knew where you were, they could... what?

  • It seems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:32AM (#30817600) Homepage
    I think there will be two SHOCKING REVELATIONS!

    1) Most people play waaay more WoW than they admit
    2) There's a lot of botting going on

    There, you're shocked now. aren't you! Hello?
  • Job absentism (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:42AM (#30817636)

    So you were ill enough to stay at home instead of working, but it didn't prevent you from playing 9 hours.

    9:03 - Killed arthas
    9:10 - Equip new pix
    10:41 - Achieved ... ... ...
    18:30 - logged out

  • by 0x000000 (841725) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:50AM (#30817670)

    Maybe now is the time to stop playing WoW and instead do something with your life. I've lost too many friends to the game known as World of Warcraft with too many of them turning down social interactions to instead go raiding with their groups. I had a room mate in college that played so much WoW that he ended up dropping out of school just so that he could continue to play WoW. His dad came to pick him up from our apartment at the time and he looked extremely disappointed. I will never forget the look on that mans face when he realised his son had become so addicted to a computer game that he was unable to complete any of his classes that semester.

    I've never understood the draw and allure that WoW provides, and why people get addicted to the point that they drop out of schools. Maybe I am one of the few people that is lucky and doesn't require simulation from an online fake environment to further foster my own mind.

  • Asked for comment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:54AM (#30817690) Homepage

    Asked for comment, the involved parties responded "Wait, you thought that information was private before?"

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:55AM (#30817700)

    I mean this could work for stalking their character, but there is no tie between a character and the person behind it unless you choose to make one. This really doesn't change anything. If you reveal your name, address, etc to someone then sure they can use it to stalk you. However your WoW character doesn't reveal that. Just don't go telling random people on WoW who you are and there isn't a problem.

  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:06AM (#30817738)

    I've never understood the draw and allure that WoW provides, and why people get addicted to the point that they drop out of schools. Maybe I am one of the few people that is lucky and doesn't require simulation from an online fake environment to further foster my own mind.

    Most of us WoW players are casuals, dropping in for an hour or two each day that would otherwise be spent on television. The rest of the time we work, spend time with our wife/husband/squid/mollusc and lead normal lives. My wife and I are having a child soon, we're moving house, I work too many hours in the office and still I find time for reading books, sleeping relatively normal amounts and playing WoW.

    It's just a game. Most of us find balance in our lives.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:11AM (#30817754)

    . I've lost too many friends to the game known as World of Warcraft with too many of them turning down social interactions to instead go raiding with their groups.

    Sounds like you're the antisocial one, not playing with your friends.

    "Mah friends don't play with me, they're all doing the same thing together!"
    "Why uh...why don't you play with them?"
    "Because they're not playing with me!"
    "Yeah but I mean, why can't you play the same thing they do?"
    "Because it's stupid!"
    "Uh-HUH."

  • by Jorth (1074589) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:13AM (#30817774)
    WoW has changed a lot over its five years. I have been playing since day 1 EU, I started out with 2 real life friends leveling to 60, this was back in my 2nd year of university. Since then I've made many new friends from all over Europe, had one pretty successful relationship from the game with a Swedish girl (I'm English) she moved to England etc etc, and I talk to people from variety of places that I do intend to visit now that I have a job and money. I think anyone who is socially average can balance a game and normal activities. I make sure I am a member of a guild that doesn't raid Friday/Saturday, those nights and my weekend are free and I spend most of it out of the house drinking and doing the kind of things a 26 year old bloke does...

    Raiding originally took a lot of hours, Molten Core the first instance was a sprawling dungeon that my guild achieved Alliance first Rag on the server, so we were pretty hardcore back when no one really understood raiding (WoW brought in a lot of people that had never played an MMO before even at the begining). That place would take 4 hours or so to clear, 5+ if you weren't farming it. Then Blackwing Lair, and AQ40, and Naxx, all of it was very big, and very long. TBC cut the instance size down a notch with some more single encounter raids, and the shorter "Eye" and "Hyjal" taking much much less time to do.

    Now in WoTLK the first instance was Naxx from Vannilla, easy for any old player, Ulduar was more regular sized, Trial of the Crusader was VERY short (you can do it all in 30-40mins now even in heroic mode) and Ice Crown is being released slowly. All in all I raid about a quarter of the time I used to five year ago.

    Anyway, I suck at writing these kind of posts coherently, but my main point is, WoW has been probably the most enjoyable game I've played in 5 years. I laugh, joke, and chat about all kinds of things with real life friends who I drink with on a weekend, and guys I now know from Denmark,Sweden,Norway,Germany and even Greece. Some people will always have addictive personalities, and just like gambling can ruin a life so can WoW. But to anyone balanced WoW can be a great social experience and the game isn't bad either :)
  • PvP bots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:18AM (#30817802)

    The only really annoying ones are badly designed battleground bots who just run around randomly, dragging down the whole groups' performance. It's a pity that they're so easy to make. Maybe Cataclysm's rated battleground will fix that.

  • Re:Job absentism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:19AM (#30817806)

    There's a huge difference between staying at home ill, sat at my desk within easy reach of my bed if I need it (or even in bed if I game on a laptop), staying in the warm, and not having to struggle through a 90 minute commute, and going in to the office, being unproductive as I infect my co-workers with whatever nasty little germ I have.

    Just because you're not too ill to sit at one desk, doesn't mean you're well enough to sit at another.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:22AM (#30817814)

    I understand that that's the popular perception of WoW players... but you do realize it's about as accurate, and kind, as 'lazy niggers', right? That my guild (of 100ish people) has only 3 or 4 players who kinda fit the geeky shut-in mold, and the rest are normal men and women leading ordinary lives? My mother plays WoW, and she's nearly 60. I can list off 10 couples right off the top of my head in our guild. Some players are casual, some are hardcore raiders. It's all a matter of what percentage of someone's leisure time they choose to spend playing WoW.

    Sitting on a couch watching TV is a less worthy pursuit, in my mind, than killing undead minions in WoW. But the stigma of watching TV is notably less.

  • by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:23AM (#30817824)

    turning down social interactions to instead go raiding with their groups

    That certainly can be a social interaction - just because people aren't sat in the same room talking face to face doesn't mean they're not talking.

    an online fake environment

    What's fake about it, in entertainment terms? In what ways are other forms of entertainment more real?

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:28AM (#30817838)
    There are a lot of things that are "already possible", that are made "easier". It is known as the difficulty of a problem. I don't want to build a terrorism strawman so here is another analogy: It is already possible to perform voting fraud without electronic voting machines. All you need to do is gather your closest 100,000 conspirators and rig the counting process. Introducing a centralized software that you conveniently and mostly undetectably can modify just makes it easier.

    The fact is, making some things easier make things more probable and skews "cost - benefit" comparisons towards actually doing the thing. The example you use would require a WoW account and would be limited to a few people tops. The new changes can easily allow monitoring of tens of thousands of accounts from a single ip, with a few lines of Perl.
  • Re:Stalking. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:36AM (#30817868)
    People have killed themselves over virtual stalking / cyber bullying. At the very least WOW should allow opt-out and preferably the service should be opt-in and restricted to over 18s. It's simply irresponsible to lay bare people's online habits without giving them the choice not to disclose information that they may have reason to wish to hide.
  • Re:Stalking. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:39AM (#30817880) Homepage Journal

    See my signature, I believe that people finding me by interest is more important than privacy.

    I believe the same, though I do not believe that either of us has the right to decide this for others. Blizzard has the right to publish this data, but is it right? I feel strongly that not providing opt-out is wrong, at least.

  • by Calinous (985536) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:49AM (#30817910)

    Growth-based computer games provide easy, fast accomplishments, and this in some cases creates psychological addiction. I went thru this phase several times, and it ain't pretty remembering how good it felt then.
          This works so much faster than in real life, and the rewards are (relatively) so big, real life doesn't offer anything like it (and to top it all, the games can be seen as being played for free, or almost for free - this isn't true at all, but it can be seen like that at the time).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:51AM (#30817920)

    then... err. do your job? care for your kids?

  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu. o r g> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:51AM (#30817922) Homepage

    I've never understood the draw and allure that WoW provides, and why people get addicted to the point that they drop out of schools.

    It could be that people are unsatisfied with their real life and aren't well-equipped to manage it. I know for sure I learned more than I'm happy to admit about life management (setting goals, working towards them) from David Allen and his Getting Things Done. Maybe I'm not the only one who'd do well to read some of his thoughts?

    In any case, In contrast to a poorly managed real life, WoW gives you some very clear goals ("kill monster(s)" and "fetch item(s)" are popular, I hear; they worked in Diablo II), and, if Diablo II is anything to go by, a reasonably straightforward and easy way of accomplishing those goals if you just put in enough time.

    So you have "complex, ambiguous, unsuccessful" versus "simple, well-defined, successful". What do you think wins?

    See also someone else's take on this question at http://www.pixelpoppers.com/2009/11/awesome-by-proxy-addicted-to-fake.html [pixelpoppers.com]

  • by craznar (710808) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:57AM (#30817962) Homepage
    "In a move that could cause mild to almost no privacy problems for users of Slashdot, Cowboy Neal has added timestamps and an RSS feed to the site's online forum site. This new feature will mean that anyone can follow 'real-time' posts for a Slashdot user, which display the exact time and date, so that others can see that person's posting habits. Absolutely no users have complained about the fact that there is no opt-out setting, and this opens very big possibilities for online stalking."
  • Re:It seems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:30AM (#30818114)

    I used to bot three toons at once. A couple made it to 80, and a dozen or so to 60. Mmoglider getting shut down is why I quit the game.

    Good riddance.

  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:31AM (#30818118)
    It's not surprising at all, actually. MMO subscriptions are per-month, not strictly metered use like they were in the days of Compuserve. The less you actually play, the better it is for the company-- you're drawing fewer resources, and extending the time it would take you to reach whatever milestone you set for quitting.
  • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:35AM (#30818420)

    most people who have a problem with this are people who play when they should be working or at school or something and are concerned their employer/parent will now be able to see this and hold it up as evidence against them in disciplinary action.

    Maybe, but that's really the same argument as we see for wiretaps or unwarranted searches or cameras up the wazoo - "You only have something to lose if you're doing something illegal." As has been said before around here, decreased privacy hurts everyone, not just those doing things they shouldn't. Just because so-called stalkers won't find anything doesn't mean they should be able to look.

  • Re:It seems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MistrBlank (1183469) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:44AM (#30818476)

    Someone please mod the above AC up for me.

    How can you quit a game you weren't playing to begin with. And I'm sorry but Bot players are the lowest life forms in the game. It's cheating and they need to get over themselves if they think it's anything but that.

  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:52AM (#30818548)

    As someone who has seen a number of nasty divorces go down, let me explain something to you:

    Has 1 drink with dinner => massive alcoholic in divorce speak
    Spanked a child for running into the street => beats the children
    Hugs a child => probably molesting the children
    Has had lunch with co-worker of the opposite sex => has had a torrid affair
    Has had lunch with co-worker of the same sex => almost certainly having a homosexual affair

    So...

    Spent 3 hours over a weekend late at night raiding => neglects children, wasn't ever there for us, probably having an affair with someone online

    I agree, people probably shouldn't be playing or logging in from work unless their workplace allows it during breaks, but the point is that anyone who has an agenda and an axe to grind and would use this tool to support it will certainly also be more than happy to spin things in the worst possible way. Divorce lawyers are fucking NASTY creatures, and people going through a hostile divorce can be psychotic.

  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:15AM (#30818748)

    That's scary, and you certainly shouldn't be playing these kinds of games if that's the effect they have on you.

    But other people are not you.

    While being a player of WoW, I have:

    Gotten 1 of every class, on both Alliance and Horde side, to level 70 (most to 80, still dragging ass on getting my Warlocks and Warriors to level 80 - they're boring), seen the inside of every raid, and even gotten the Lore Master (did pretty much every quest in the game) achievement when it was a little harder.

    I've also gotten 2 degrees, started work on a third, maintained a 4.0 gpa in grad school throughout that process, got a fantastic job at university, gotten promoted twice, been an author (and actually did the work) on over 20 papers, given god only knows how many job talks, been party to a dozen posters at events, dated a lot, found someone I like and we live together now, had a social life, and generally all of those accomplishments are VASTLY more good feeling to me.

    I have a sense of proportion, I guess - I'm able to make the distinction between wow levels & gear and actually accomplishing things. People who can't do that - you're right - they shouldn't play games like WoW, because clearly they can't handle it.

  • by mayko (1630637) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:29AM (#30818866)

    The problem with this is that there is no way for a user to opt-out.

    Cancel your account. When they ask their little "Why are you leaving?" survey, tell them this was the reason. If everyone did that, I'm sure they would think about including an opt-out feature.

    If canceling your account is out of the question, then you value playing the game more than game-privacy.

  • by david_thornley (598059) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:00AM (#30819232)

    Then here's a message for management: Sick leave. What's common in US companies nowadays is "leave" or "paid time off", or whatever. It is used for both vacation and sick time, and in the US there's a whole lot less than a European would expect.

    What it means is that every day you spend home sick is a day you don't spend up at the cabin in summer, or downhill skiing in the winter, or pitching in on a school project for your child, or whatever you might want to do when you're away from work and well.

    If I'm hurting the company by coming in sick, then don't make me give up vacation time to help the company. Make provisions for me to get paid by doing what's best for the company.

  • Re:Real Reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:27AM (#30819578)

    Ok, I call B.S. Nice troll, but I don't believe in the few days since this came out that you've gotten _any_ requests from employers. Even if said employers were interested, and all knew that you could hypothetically offer this service, there's no way for them to match a WoW Armory Profile with a real name. You say, "it's trivial to correlate email to character info if you, for instance, raid with coworkers," but how precisely would go about doing that? I suppose you might get lucky and have some mention their toon's name in company email, but I have a feeling that would be a rare exception rather than the rule.

    So, nice kharma whore. Stick with the truth next time?

  • Re:It seems (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:40AM (#30819744)

    We're trying to play a fantasy game here, not Robot Battle. [robotbattle.com]

  • Re:Real Reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:49AM (#30819882)
    No kidding. Firing someone based on this kind of "evidence" is just asking for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  • Re:Real Reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:08PM (#30820996)

    Keep this in mind: If your employer knows you play WoW and you have EVER played during the work week start checking the job boards my friend. They won't bother to check if you were on vacation, they'll simply red flag you none the less. There is a frenzy brewing and anyone looking for an excuse to show you the door this is a great little tool for that.

    You seem to know very little about the actual management process. Just as an FYI:

    1) Terminations are either at will (meaning no reason is required and unemployment is paid without challenge) or heavily documented. This might contribute a data point to the 'case' made against you, but unless the boss can prove they told you to STOP (followed up by multiple counseling sessions, action plans, and the like), then the RSS feed isn't going to actually count for much.

    2) If you're worried about an at will employer terminating you over WoW, you can stop. By definition they can do so without stating a reason at all. They could have done so yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that - but they didn't. So why worry?

    3) If you're worried that this might contribute to a case against you, remember that every employee generates a wide array of 'good' reasons to fire them on a daily basis. If an employer wanted to chalk them up under a generic 'quantity and quality of work' umbrella they could readily march you down the death trail until either you wise up and quit or the size of the stack means you get fired. You surf the web to much, you miss deadlines (or would if your workload were increased), you make mistakes, you make coworkers uncomfortable, you're just not fitting in - the list goes on and on. So long as they counsel you and document all the things they did to try valiantly to salvage their poor worker, they will eventually get what they want. In the end, only the cost-benefit saves an employee like this. Contrast how painful this process is for the manager, including re-hiring and training costs, with just letting the employee slide one more day.

  • Re:It seems (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brkello (642429) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:38PM (#30821428)
    A bot is something that is set up to solely benefit the person or company running the bot. They are played at the detriment to others in the game. NPCs are designed by the developers and used to enhance the experience.

    They may both be run by code instead of players, but the intentions for both are extremely different. Over-simplifying it to your level is either done out of an effort to justify the use of something selfish and unwanted by the community at large (and not allowed) or just plain stupidity.
  • by alfoolio (1385603) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:26PM (#30823194)

    Maybe now is the time to stop playing WoW and instead do something with your life.

    Oh really? Would it also be time for you to consider the possibility that playing WoW is a something to do with part (or all) of your life? Can you accept the idea that while you find it a waste of time, apparently 12 million other people don't?

    I've lost too many friends to the game known as World of Warcraft with too many of them turning down social interactions to instead go raiding with their groups.

    It must be painful to you to have someone you know in the 'real world' reject your company in preference to that of people in a 'virtual world'. I trust you understand that you are not meeting some relationship need of theirs? This suggests that you may find happiness by changing your expectations of their behavior OR by changing the moral valuations you place on how other people spend their time.

    I've never understood the draw and allure that WoW provides, and why people get addicted to the point that they drop out of schools. Maybe I am one of the few people that is lucky and doesn't require simulation from an online fake environment to further foster my own mind.

    Your failure in understanding here is directly attributable to your choice to believe in your own personal superiority over other humans. If you truly desire enlightenment here then you must first stop looking down your nose at people and raise your viewpoint to the horizons. You totally discount the reality that a multi-player game *is* a social interaction. I'm (barely) on the 'right' side of 60 and I game/have gamed with players as young as 5 and as old as 78. As Hilary titled, it takes a village to raise a child. This is part of the new village. We often spend more time discussing our lives while playing than actually playing.

    You must honor several facts: We are all unique and *may* have different desires. None of us is truly in charge of another of us. There are many differing basis for value, all but one of which are going to be different from yours. If you truly cannot look outside the "ME" box to think these things (the allure of success, friendship, etc.) through about games then you really need to read some of the forum threads with an open mind.

    DISCLAIMER: I am a WoW/EQ player of long standing with multiple characters on multiple servers. I play about 40-50 hours a week because I can. (Medical disability prevents work; no work limits income; limited income limits entertainment options; $15/mo ~ 200 hours of entertainment = dirt cheap)

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