Last week we saw the introduction of “Appear Offline” mode in the newest beta of the Battlenet client. That news brought much rejoicing from me and from some of my more introverted friends. This is a feature that is standard in almost every possible messaging or social gaming service. I’ve been using it forever in Steam. Somehow it took Blizzard around 5 years to implement it.
When Bnet friends lists first became an option I stayed away. I’m extremely introverted, and one of the ways I recharge my internal batteries is to play games by myself. Having a long friends list full of people who might want to hang out with me can sometimes feel like a burden. I did eventually start adding people, because I didn’t want to lose touch with folks as I changed servers or factions over the years. However there are days where saying “sorry I don’t feel up to hanging out right now” feels like too much social interaction, and I often stayed away from Blizzard games rather than risk having to chat with one of my friends. It can be hard to explain to folks who don’t suffer from this personality quirk, but honestly the anxiety of maybe, possibly, having to turn someone down is sometimes enough to keep me from logging in at all. I actually have a second account for WoW and D3 for exactly this reason.
I think I need to be clear here that the people on my friends list are my friends. I do enjoy talking to them and playing games together. I’ve seen a lot of reactions on forums where people say things like “if you don’t want to talk to people they aren’t your friends and shouldn’t be on your friends list.” No! I love my friends! My close friends mostly know that I sometimes need to “turtle” and hide for a while to recharge. I don’t feel obligated to explain that to the various other old guildies I want to keep in touch with, or fun folks I ran a pug raid with, or various other folks that end up in my social network. Now I have a hassle-free way of making myself available when I’m feeling up to social interactions, and hiding when I just want to kill some demons in Diablo by myself for a little while.
When I found out about offline mode I joked that my friends will never see me in Bnet ever again. The truth is that they will probably see me less often, but when they do see me they can be sure I’ll be happy to chat with them, and in a good mood to hang out!