Just a little about me. I’m Ray, a Communication and Chinese Major at Trinity University. Right now, I am looking at question three of our research survey, which asked our participants to elaborate on any cross-cultural experiences they have had in online worlds. Many of the participants talked about their experiences playing Final Fantasy XI, a massively multiplayer online role playing game that utilized an auto-translate feature, which allowed players who didn’t speak the same language to engage in simplistic communication. Despite this useful tool, many of the participants also discussed the limitations of it. Many said that more thoughtful conversations could not be done with this feature, and many more said even with the feature, many Japanese players were very hostile and had this “JP-Onry” mentality toward North American gamers, which basically meant they would never play with North American gamers.
Many of our participants also speculated on this hostility. Some said that it was the different playing styles between the Japanese and the North Americans. The Japanese value the team dynamic over the individual, and work together to complete quests. In contrast, North Americans are said to play selfishly in online and not really care about their teammates.
Others thought the animosity was because North Americans were very rude, and one other interesting viewpoint was the hostility was due to the Hiroshima bombing. While I believe rudness is definitely an issue, and differing playing styles can also be a problem, I feel as though much of animosity can be attributed to the inability to communicate. For any foreign player trying to play with a english player who has no knowledge of their native tongue, collaboration can be a little difficult. Add in a couple negative stereotypes floating around about a group of players online, and it can become difficult to get players from opposing sides to communicate, let alone collaborate on quests.
An interesting thing to note is that not everyone said that Japanese were hostile, a few players, some of whom previously studied japanese, were able to have pleasant interactions with the Japanese. So clearly, not everyone is being discriminated for speaking English. However, cross-cultural interactions seem to be, as one gamer put it, 50% hate and 50% love, and there doesn’t seem to be a simple way to get rid of all this animosity. So with that in mind, couple questions to consider.
1. What are ways to improve cross-cultural interaction in online virtual worlds?
2. Should GM’s become an integral part of helping promote thes cross-cultural interactions?
3. How do we improve upon the auto-translate feature in FFXI and should it become a part of all online games?