In reviewing and analyzing the raw data from the survey results, it is becoming apparent that we all notice the barriers that restrict our interactions amongst one another. Many of the responses were critical of the language barriers within games but also praised new technologies, especially FFXI’s auto-translator and Google’s new aim at providing live translations. How developers will treat these emerging trends is still unknown to us gamers, but it seems more than reasonable to suspect that games in the near future will help foster cultural transactions. But the criss-crossing of cultures may sometimes present challenges. First, it is obvious but important to note the differences in cultures and cultural norms; how someone interprets communication will nevertheless be unique to another gamer on the other side of the world, how we cope with these (sometimes) “radical” differences to our own is daunting and mysterious, in a way.
Some respondents reported that cross-cultural interactions should not be forced upon the gamer, but instead it should be an option, or an opportunity. Some gamers may choose to stay in their guilds or play with gamers that they enjoy playing with. As some noted, isn’t that the point of a game: to have fun?
Question #4 on the survey asks, “In general terms, how do you feel about the ability to interact with players from other countries in virtual worlds? Do you view this as a good thing? Do you view this as a bad thing? Does it matter to
you at all?” Lucky for us, many view transnational interactions as a good thing, but many are critical or mildly skeptical of it. As stated, language is a vital issue when analyzing interactions amongst gamers. Gamers responded saying that they wish communication were easier and more efficient with non-English speakers. Some gamers felt that broken English took away from their gaming experience, while others praised inproper English, some referring to personal experience commenting that they used games to learn and improve their English skills. Many made friends in the process–even, get this, a couple got married after meeting through online games, take that e-harmony! (FFXI btw, I believe)
Yet, in this futuristic world we live in (yes, at least I think it’s futuristic!) the boundaries of reality and alter-reality (virtual worlds) are becoming less and less vague. Technological Singularity poses new questions for the future of humans and humankind… but an essential aspect of the survey responses suggested that gamers just wanted to play with other gamers, other human gamers. With the question of singularity unfolding, what does it really mean to be human and how will this definition change–it inevitably will?
Lots of questions surfacing with only hints of answers on the way. Hopefully more research will provide more results alluding to progress.
Posts will be published on the WRI blog and “This Blog’s World” correspondingly.