I work pretty hard to keep my online handles/gamertags separate from my real identity as much as possible. It’s not that I do anything online that I would not do in person, but I have found keeping things like that separate can just simplify a lot of things. Specifically it means that I don’t have to think quite as hard about if I post something on say twitter when I am frustrated that I wouldn’t want a boss to see etc.
However, it is no secret at work that I play games. Even the security guards at the front desk of my building know that I play all sorts of games and they definitely seem to enjoy stopping me on the way upstairs to ask what I’m playing or to try to convince me I need to pick up whatever shooter they are into that day. It’s the same with things like facebook. I will post that I am interested in or playing a game and people that I don’t actually interact with in real-life ask if I would want to play with them.
These situations have me asking a different question: At what point is it ok to cross that line and actually mix the gaming and real world friendships? It’s easy to give my handle/gamertag to people I am close to, since I know them well and usually they have similar feelings about sharing that kind of thing so I don’t have to worry about it, but when does someone cross into that category?
It’s funny, because I have no problem giving my gamertag/steam name/guild wars account name etc to people that I meet at a convention. Thing is, those are connections based on gaming, and that don’t immediately effect daily life. While I have certainly become closer friends with some of those people, when we started interacting there were no expectations and therefore it was easier to share that.
With people from work there is an extra layer of consideration. Not that I do things online that my employer would be upset about, but I have always kept a pretty clear boundary between work and personal life. I do have some people I have met through my current job that I would consider more than just a work acquaintance, and I have some very close friends that are people I used to work with but don’t actually work with now, but in general the people I meet at work I only interact with at work. Because of that, it is very rare that I give any one that I work with my handle or gamertag, even if they might be someone I could play a game with because it feels like breaking that boundary.
Then there is the whole facebook and social media side. Thanks to facebook I have intermittent contact with people that I sort of knew in high school and otherwise would realistically have zero contact with. When those people want to play games together I find I hit another wall. I start to question why, or if by doing that I will end up losing the separation that I have between the real-identity and the online one.
I’ve been trying to be a bit less closed off about it, but I don’t know that I will ever be one of those people who can just post their handle online in the same place as their real name and not care.