Why do I do this? I was sitting at work desperately procrastinating and checking in from time to time on the Pirates of the Burning Sea forums to see how launch is unfolding. For those of you scoring at home, PotBS’s Pre-Boarding Party kicked off Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific time giving pre-order customers exclusive access until the retail launch later in the month.
Even though its only the pre-order people, hey, this is this still a LIVE launch and the first for FLS. I wanted to see how it was going since I wouldn’t be able to start patching until I got home that night.
After some fumbling for the controls initially (there were some forum posting permission problems), the shiny new forums started filling up with the usual launch day stuff: “SOE patcher sucks” “Where is my Key?” “Server X is the BEST!”. I was refreshing the new posts just to see what problems were cropping up and basically watch the game come alive.
Then I got sucked into a thread (reading, not posting). It wasn’t your typical troll trap, but something that was really pushing some buttons. I’ve seen the topic before, but for some reason, it just got to me. For the benefit of all concerned, I wont link the post(s) or name the posters, because none of that is relevant. Fortunately, FLS had the good sense to lock the thread before it got out of hand as there was really nothing constructive being exchanged (Aether FTW!).
The Issue: “Foreign” (non-english) chat in public chat channels.
PotBS is not the first game to have international appeal, nor the first with communities of speakers of many languages playing on the same servers concurrently. Heck, Eve only has ONE server (ok, shard, jeez). But, unlike most other MMOs out there, it has perhaps a more direct relationship to RL national and ethic identies. By virtue of having the nations of Spain, France and Britain (and the Pirate faction), nationalism or pseudo-nationalism, or historical pseudo virtual nationalism tricity ism, or … you get the point.. seems to stay a little close to the surface. Perhaps too close. And in a much more visceral way than any Alliance/Horde, elves/dwarves, corporation x/corporation y competition.
Peeps tend to REALLY
connect identify with these factions and the tensions between them and all that is not good therein.
Without reiterating the flame war, the general gist was that non-english speakers were tired of being beat up for speaking a non-english language in a public chat channel on a US server or a server designated something other than that non-english speaker’s language. I note in most games these are geographic, not linguistic designations, but that point seemed lost on the posters, nor should it be particularly relevant. Further, the presumably U.S. english speakers (who responded) found it to be either rude, offensive, frustrating, etc. to have walls of “foreign” language streaming by in a public chat channel.
That might be taking the theme of European Powers in the 18th century a bit far, but for me it was really troubling. I’ve seen the same kind of xenophobic response to non-english speakers on WoW chat as well. I suspect its present in many games and fortunately we don’t actually see it that often.
I generally assume that if someone is chatting with someone else in a language in which I don’t understand, that that communication is not directed toward me and as such I’m not obligated to read, understand or respond. Whats actually more disturbing are people carrying on in a language in which I understand on matters unrelated to the particular subject matter of the channel and spewing bilious hate (i.e., WoW global trade chat, and looking for group before that). But being pissed off at the mere PRESENCE of “foreign” chat seems pathological to me.
Yes, I know its probably a small percentage of asshats, but FFS, its two thousand freaking eight. So at the risk of opening a can of worms, what do you think about it? How or should devs attempt to deal with multi-linguality in a game released internationally? Would you get pissed off if I went around only speaking in [Dwarvish] in Stormwind? Should spouting xenophobic clap trap be bannable?