Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chronicling a personal history

It just so happened that the first request on yesterday's open Sunday thread was also on my personal list of things I planned to post about, so as requested, here is my view on the new Armory activity feed: For those who haven't heard of this new feature of the World of Warcraft Armory, there is now the possibility to create a RSS feed which reports the main items of a characters activity, that is bosses killed, epic loot gained, and achievements gained. Thus if you would take for example the Armory activity feed for my priest, you would see that over the last week he ran Forge of Souls on normal 15 times, before giving up on the bracers that Ick & Krick never dropped, buying crafted epic bracers instead to get the Epic achievement.

The catch is that to access that feed you only need to know the name of the character and the server he is playing on. Thus everybody who knows that information can follow your activity. Although normally that shouldn't cause much of a problem, because for example your boss is unlikely to know your character name and thus can't find out what you really did when you called in sick, some people are worried about privacy issues. Blizzard should have been more privacy conscious on that one, and have at least an option to disable your activity feed if you don't want others to see it.

Nevertheless the Armory activity feed is interesting, because it gives us a hint of things to come. Game developers are slowly realizing a simple truth: People are more interested in their own characters' history than in the history of some NPC. What would *you* rather have, a website with the complete history of Arthas, or a website with the complete history of *your* characters? Just imagine a complete history "book" of your character, the times he leveled, the challenges he overcame, sorted by date, and clickable for how your character looked in his gear at that time. In a time and age where people feel the need to Twitter what cereal they had for breakfast, the heroic tales of you fantasy avatars make for a much better story. So I'm sure that the activity feed isn't the end of that trend. I don't know if it will be WoW or another game, but some time soon we will see a MMORPG offering a complete chronicle of your character's history.

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