Achievements, Anonymity and Connecting the Dots

Achieve­ments could be really interesting.

There are the obvi­ous parts, like “wow, I ran Strat all the way through 200 times?” to the nos­tal­gic “yay, I killed Onyxia when it still kinda counted” to the banal “this says I’ve jumped 350,000 times, I’m going to go re-examine my life”.

That’s cool stuff and will be very fun to play, but that’s not the part that causes me to geek out. What is really inter­est­ing is that you can com­pare your achieve­ments with other people.

There’s a wall of anonymity in WoW. Nobody knows who you are, but more rel­e­vant to this line of thought is that nobody knows which toons are con­nected unless you tell them.

My bank alt’s pur­pose is to walk between the mail­box and the auc­tion house. I have made my bank alt’s iden­tity pub­lic (in my guild) so that if I have only ten min­utes, I can log in, quickly check my stuff, and log out. Oth­er­wise, there will be times where I log on for two min­utes and the sit­u­a­tion becomes, “I’m about to con­tinue my daughter’s Amer­i­can Foot­ball edu­ca­tion via watch­ing a Patri­ots game, sorry you’re short a healer for your pro­gres­sion raid!” Or some other uncom­fort­able explanation.

I also have an unguilded dps toon for when I mind­lessly want to grind bat­tle­grounds. Some­times I want the game to be just a game, and not the big social struc­ture of a guild.

There are times where I enjoy that wall of anonymity. I sus­pect that I’m not alone.

But what if your Achieve­ments weren’t per char­ac­ter, but were per account?

You would be able to check out some anony­mous bank alt in a major city, inspect their achieve­ments, and learn “This account has a toon which has cleared X, Y, Z raid instances.” So clearly, this is a player who raids.

In fact, the achieve­ment sys­tem tracks a great many things:

  • Total dun­geon deaths
  • Deaths from fire and lava
  • Deaths in Naxxramas
  • Times con­sid­ered res­ur­rect­ing but logged instead
  • Largest crit­i­cal hit
  • Exalted with The Argent Dawn
  • Exalted with The Scryers
  • Num­ber of Jumps

…and on and on. Any sin­gle achieve­ment isn’t enough to iden­tify a char­ac­ter, but with 500 of them what we’re actu­ally look­ing at is a slightly blurry dig­i­tal ID.

I can imag­ine a sit­u­a­tion where–given a suf­fi­ciently moti­vated addon pro­gram­mer and enough users of said addon–the pub­licly avail­able data becomes col­lected and the dots begin to be con­nected. Like I said ear­lier, this bank alt is that raider.

Or more sticky (also more fun!): this raider in X of Y guild is also that raider in A of B guild.

I’m incred­i­bly curi­ous when a new L70 walks into our guild and has all kinds of good advice about what­ever pro­gres­sion tar­get we’re work­ing on, but demures as to whether they have another toon else­where. This case is obvi­ous, but I’ve seen this hap­pen enough times that I think that many peo­ple (espe­cially raiders) exist simul­ta­ne­ously at mul­ti­ple lev­els of the game. Some toons in hard­core pro­gres­sion, oth­ers in casual pro­gres­sion, oth­ers in lev­el­ing guilds.

An account-based achieve­ment sys­tem would pro­vide the tools elim­i­nate some of that uncer­tainty, which would have reper­cus­sions on the whole alt scheme.

This was a lot of hypoth­e­siz­ing for some­thing that might not be true, but I couldn’t help myself. Is any­one else curi­ous? Are achieve­ments account-based?

More Words!

2 thoughts on “Achievements, Anonymity and Connecting the Dots”

  1. Curi­ous indeed… and I hope that they are NOT account-based pre­cisely for rea­sons of pri­vacy. Per­haps if they were tracked by account, but dis­play could be turned off (chang­ing dis­play to char­ac­ter achieve­ments), that might be a good thing. Opt­ing into releas­ing infor­ma­tion is worlds bet­ter than just let­ting it all hang out, as it were.

    Some peo­ple want to show the world their, um… what­ever, but that “wall of anonymity” is a valu­able thing.

    Inter­est­ing indeed.

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