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Posts with tag chinese

Guardian talks to Chinese goldsellers and UK buyers

UK paper The Guardian has a look at what life is like at a Chinese goldselling company. It's interesting, but we've basically seen it before -- the small room of young people working almost 24/7 to make and deliver gold in-game, the concerns about worker livelihood and the supposedly large amounts of money going through these businesses (there's one figure quoted of £700m, which is about $980 million, but that's an estimate -- no one really knows how much these companies are making).

But what's really interesting about this piece is that it seems to treat goldselling as more of an "opportunity" than anything else. The people running the companies are making money, the employees are getting a roof over their head and a steady paycheck, and even the guy making the film talks about how governments should start taking a cut of this industry. Nowhere is it actually mentioned that Blizzard considers these companies to be against the terms of service, or that many times the gold obtained by these companies isn't earned through simple grinding, but by hacking, keylogging, and exploiting. Even if (emphasis on the if) these companies are making millions of dollars a year, they're stealing accounts and cheating in-game to do it.

Rowenna Davis also did interviews with both the gold farmer and a player in the UK buying money from him (bannz0red?), but again, there's no insight at all from the player whose account was hacked and bank was looted, or the player who is able to earn as much gold as they need and have a life outside the game (there are plenty of those to go around). Would have been nice to see the issue from players who aren't actually breaking the game's terms of service.

Thanks, Bryn!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Leveling, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW Moviewatch: The Paladin's Way of William

We're getting this week off to a great start with something unusual. William Wallace created The Paladin's Way of William. He has some language barriers, being originally from the Chinese servers. However, the simple and beautiful images he's created easily transcend language, and I think has something to appeal to everyone.

The first half of the movie is hand illustrated, and that's the part that really knocked my socks off. The simple and elegant drawings, painting, and purity of movement does a great job of telling a hopeful and melancholy tale. At it's heart, the story of a cheese vendor who dreams of being a Paladin. I'm not sure I would have gotten that without being told, but the story of common-man-dreaming-to-be-more is clear and obvious.

The last half of the movie involves in-game graphics. I can understand why that happens, and how it portrays important pieces of the story. (Not to mention, qualifies the "Paladin's Way" as being machinima.) Still, the manual art was so beautiful, I found the transition a little jarring.

Overall, this was a great piece, and a wonderful way to start the week.

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ..

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, WoW Moviewatch

UC Irvine studies differences between Chinese and US players

Our good friends at the OC (don't call it that) Register have an article up about how the University of California at Irvine has received a grant to study the differences between US and Chinese players of World of Warcraft. And the differences are fairly interesting: apparently US players use many more UI mods and addons than Chinese players do. Additionally, more Chinese players play the "more challenging version of the game" (seems like they mean PvP servers to us, though that may change with yesterday's big news), and Chinese players, say the researcher, tend to talk more about color schemes and architecture than American players. Finally, the demographics are fairly different -- here in the states, women make up 20 percent of the playing audience, and in China that number is almost halved. And while people here may play with parents or even grandparents, in China, the older generation isn't interested in the game at all.

These observations seem more to be based on anecdotal evidence of Chinese players in cafes more than anything else, but the study is just getting started, so maybe with some more research they can come up with some more solid numbers (or even more reasons) showing why this is the case. But it's interesting that inspecting how people play this game in two different countries can reveal something about the cultural differences between each.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Characters for iPhone updated to 2.0

The Warcraft Characters app for iPhone that we reported on a while ago has been updated to version 2.0, and with it come a host of terrific improvements. As we were told last time, gear has been added in, so your iPhone can not only show you information about your (or anyone else's) characters, but it can now also show you all of their gear, and even reputation status. And there's good news for non-US users, too: the app now supports characters from any and all realms, not just US and EU, but Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese realms as well. The only thing that's still missing is seeing individual talents -- otherwise, it's as featured an app as you can get. Sure, guild search and stats might be nice, and there's always extra features like be.imba integration, or character comparisons, but as a portable Armory, it works great as is. We're not sure if this is all Rudi's work or a result of a teamup with Omen of Clarity (who's been working on an iPhone web app for a while), but either way, great job.

And there's a shiny new icon, too (and I like it a lot better). Characters is now available on the iPhone's App Store for the low, low price of free.

Filed under: Patches, Items, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Talents, Alts, Hardware

WoW Chinese distributor The9 dominates China's supercomputers

One thing that your average WoW player probably doesn't think about much is the sheer processing power that's needed to play the game. I don't mean your gaming rig personally. WoW's actually pretty forgiving on that front. I mean the server hardware over on Blizzard's end, the stuff that makes us miss some gaming every other Tuesday or so. Do we really stop to think about how powerful it is?

It turns out that it's powerful enough to dominate a list of China's top 100 supercomputers. The Register reports that 5 of the top 10 supercomputers in China are owned by The9, WoW's China distributor. Not only that, it also owns at least 12 of the top 100 overall, and perhaps more. That means that more than 10% of China's best supercomputing power is directed toward MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

Read more →

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items, Hardware

WOWDB introduces Simplified Chinese language option, promises more upgrades

In more international WoW news, Curse's foray into the realm of WoW database sites, WOWDB, is now available in Simplified Chinese, joining Allakhazam among the major database sites that offer the language. In addition, Curse's announcement post also hints at additional features coming to WOWDB "soon," which seems like it may be a direct answer to Wowhead's recent extensive features upgrade.

WOWDB has already been accused of copying Wowhead in the past (and, to be fair, opposite accusations have been made). Of course, Wowhead doesn't yet have a Simplified Chinese language option, so in this case, it seems WoWDB has come out ahead. We'll be eager to see if these new options coming to WOWDB make it stand out from the pack.

Filed under: Fan stuff, News items

Gold farmers arrested in China

Here in the US, you can't really arrest someone for selling gold in-game -- it's against Blizzard's Terms of Service, so they can ban you from the game or even file suit against you, but it's not actually illegal. But in China, under communism, things are apparently a little different. Two gold farmers have actually been arrested by the government for "unfair revenue distribution" -- apparently the two had a disagreement about how to distribute the over $200,000 they had made from selling gold in World of Warcraft.

Word is going around that "unfair revenue distribution" is the actual charge in the arrest, but it sounds like they just had a financial disagreement, so we really have no idea what they'd be charged with. Unfortunately, China isn't exactly forthcoming with how its legal system actually works, so who knows what's really happening here.

Their operation also sounds interesting as well -- they had been going for about seven months, and had a crew of 20 PCs and 20 employees. There's little chance that an arrest like this will make much of an actual difference in the game (and there's no way an arrest in China will set a precedent in the US), but it is an interesting case that we'll follow if we can.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy

All the World's a Stage: The passing of the Beast

All the World's a Stage isn't just a column for loony and creative geeks, playing with roles every Sunday evening.

The Lunar Festival has been with us for a few days now, and I can tell you as one living in China, the real life version of this holiday, the Chinese Spring Festival, is quite the treat. Everyone seems to walk around charged with a special happiness, traveling all around the country, glad to be reunited with family after spending months away. Shops are closed, streets have more people walking than driving, and nights ring loud with the sound of fireworks bursting from all around you.

The WoW version is a pale imitation, to be honest, but it does manage to capture a portion of the Spring Festival's spirit. While setting off fireworks is not the awesomest eye-candy, it's not that bad; also, traveling all over the world to visit the Elder ghosts scattered all around Azeroth is charming in its own way. The main thing that's missing, however, is a real understanding of what the holiday is all about.

Few Westerners realize that the annual attack of the monster "Nian" (on which the story of WoW's Omen is based) forms the mythological backstory for the Spring Festival -- sort of an equivalent of the Nativity story of Christmas. The Chinese words for "Celebrate the New Year," Guo Nian, could also be literally translated as "The passing of the Beast." If we look at the symbolism behind this Chinese myth, it can give the Lunar Festival new meaning for our characters in Azeroth as well.

Read more →

Filed under: Events, Virtual selves, Lore, Bosses, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Analyst: The9 did very well last quarter

Chinese company The9 (which is the licensee for World of Warcraft in China) saw their stock rise after an analyst posted higher-than-expected estimates of their fourth-quarter profits. In short, more people are playing WoW in China than ever before. Which isn't surprising at all, given that right before the fourth quarter started, The9 released Burning Crusade over there. And we all know what kind of effect that had on the game on this side of the world.

However, there may still be dark clouds on the horizon for The9. As you probably know, Blizzard recently merged (along with its parent company, Vivendi) with Activision. And Activision is a competitor with EA... which owns a 15 percent stake in The9. So while The9 currently licenses WoW from Blizzard to sell and service in China, that relationship may be short-lived. And you can bet that will have an effect on the stock, if and when that deal ends.

But for now, The9 is going gangbusters, and Chinese players are enjoying Outland as much as we did last summer.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade

All the World's a Stage: And your life is a mine rich in gems

All the World's a Stage is a weekly column by David Bowers, now published on Sundays, investigating the explorative performance art of roleplaying in the World of Warcraft.

For some, the whole process takes 5 minutes. They log in, click on "create new character," choose a race, a class, painstakingly compare each and every face and hairstyle, type in a name, click "accept," and they're done. Some take their time by paying a visit to the forums of each class, or asking their friends about which race is best -- but who sits down and makes up a story idea, a personality, and actual characteristics for characters these days?

Roleplayers do, of course. But how? What if you'd like to try out roleplaying but you just don't know where to begin creating an actual character, rather than just an avatar for yourself in the game? Each roleplayer tends to have his or her own way, but there are are a number of things they have in common. One of the first things to remember about designing your character concept, is to make your character essentially human, relatable, based on real experiences that you know about.

Mine your life. Think of what kinds of experiences you are familiar with, and which of them could be used as the foundation for another person's life, a new character with a story to tell, and a personality to engage other people's interest. Today, I'll give you a couple examples of how I tried to do this, and explain some of the pitfalls people often fall into when trying to make up an interesting character.

Read more →

Filed under: Virtual selves, Lore, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Chinese electronics company sues Blizzard over fonts

An electronics company in Beijing has sued Blizzard, claiming that they allegedly used five copyrighted fonts in World of Warcraft. Founder Electronics wants 100 million yuan for the alleged infringement, which is apparently the largest amount ever asked for by a Chinese company in a copyright case (Founder claims the loss cost them 1 billion yuan). The case is sitting in front of the Beijing High People's Court, and the9, which is the Chinese company that runs WoW there, is considering their options.

I'm assuming that means the9's Chinese version of WoW, which would mean the fonts themselves are for Chinese characters, so there's probably no fonts that English-speaking users would recognize ingame. However, Founder is apparently known for creating some of the most popular fonts in China, so the odds that someone at the9 used one of them (or at the very least one that looked like one of them) are probably pretty good (the picture on this post is from a Founder event, not a Blizzard event, so the obvious use of the Founder font there doesn't count). Of course it's up to the High Court to decide whether the infringement actually took place or not-- no word on how long the judgment will take.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Add-Ons

World Wide WoW: The "Blood Bar"

Can you imagine if every time someone talked about healing, they called it "adding blood" instead? In China, the word people use for "health" is "xue," which means "blood" (and is pronounced a bit like "shweh"). Traditionally in Chinese role-playing games, the health bar (or "blood bar") is red, instead of green.

Now when you think about it, having a "blood bar" does make a certain sort of sense. After all, when you get hit by monsters, you lose blood, and any healing you take from others would have to somehow restore your blood to your body as well as sealing up all the holes in your flesh. Of course without healing, all those holes in the flesh would also prevent a warrior from swinging his sword around so freely, or at least make him limp a bit. But realism isn't really the issue here -- the idea of "blood" or "health" as a measurable quantity is just something we need as a symbol to represent the video game mechanics in an emotionally meaningful way.

A game like WoW can't possibly be as complicated as real life; it would hardly be as fun as it is if it were. Instead, it needs to use real life metaphors as an access point to get you involved in the game, while in the end it's still all about numbers. Stripped of metaphorical words like "health" (or "blood"), playing World of Warcraft might look a bit like this:
Player 4837 says, "I'll reduce your unit's primary points with my unit's special 'large-scale point reduction ability!' Pwned you!! haha!" only to be countered with Player 7490's response: "Oho! but my unit can use my secondary points to exchange for primary points, and make up for this loss! Noob!"
Talk about boring! But underneath all the "fireballs" and "greater heals," this shifting of numbers around is exactly what we're doing when we play, no matter where we are or what language we speak.

In China, of course, the points and numbers are exactly the same, but it makes sense that the underlying metaphor would be somewhat different. For them, "adding blood" to a wounded teammate feels just as natural as when we say we are "healing" them -- but when you translate their "blood" metaphor into our language, it gets pretty weird!

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, World Wide WoW

Using World of Warcraft to teach English

There's a story on Gamasutra today about using games, specifically WoW, as a way of exposing Asian youth to English. As an author of English-language textbooks for students in Japan and Taiwan, this particularly caught my attention. I'll let you go read the article to understand what's been done, but I'd like to share some thoughts here on the subject.

First and foremost, I think that using a game like WoW to teach casual, conversational English is a fantastic idea. With in-game chat, as well as Teamspeak/Ventrilo, you can really expose non-native speakers to the language in all its forms. Granted, you're not going to learn high-level business English, but you are going to be able to come away with a grasp of the language and some of its conversational nuances.

I also firmly believe that language is not as severe a barrier in WoW as it may be in other games. I know that many of us have come across a member of the opposite faction, and have been able to communicate through emotes or movements, or even through how we interact with the mobs in the situation. With less of a barrier to communication from the get-go, there's less of an intimidation factor involved for someone who wants to get something across.

However, through my experience, I've definitely seen some roadblocks to using WoW as an educational tool. I think it may be less prevalent on the European servers (please let me know if this is so, or I have a misperception), but on the North American servers I've played on, there seems to be a solid amount of intolerance for people who can't perfectly communicate in English.

A lot of this may stem from gold farmers who don't speak the language, but there are also French and Spanish speaking players on these realms who may have had to endure a certain amount of ridicule before finding acceptance in a given guild.

My question to the WoW Insider community is this - if you were aware that your server was being used for cross-cultural and cross-lingual training, would you accept this and would you put forth the time and energy to help non-English speakers be a part of your guild or your party and learn the language?

If not, why not?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items

Obese gamer collapses, dies after "marathon" gaming session

Well here we go again. Reuters is reporting that a Chinese gamer has died after a "marathon," weeklong gaming session. The 26-year-old apparently collapsed on Saturday after he spent the entire week before (he'd been on break because of the Lunar New Year's celebration) playing an unidentified online game. A local teacher says the reason he played games for a full week was that because of the holiday, "there are only two options. TV or computer. What else can I do in the holiday as all markets, KTV and cafeterias are shut down?"

Be prepared, I guess, to hear about this in all future media examinations of whether or not WoW is addictive. I won't argue that this isn't a sad thing to hear-- no matter what the real cause of this poor guy's death, there were serious problems there that should have been fixed a long time ago.

But I will note that the article mentions the 26-year-old weighed 330 lbs. Why doesn't the headline say "Food addict dies"? Also of note, the last line of the article says that China considers 13% of its Internet users under 18 addicted. WoW, according to "experts," is supposed to be 40% addicts, but neither figure, as far as I can see, actually says what they define as "addicts"-- are they setting the bar for "addiction" low or high?

Filed under: Virtual selves, News items

Another Chinese Coke/WoW Ad

You might remember the Chinese Coke ad that featured the band S.H.E. as World of Warcraft characters-- it showed up here on the site a while back. Apparently that ad campaign was so successful, they're doing it again, and this time the Orc that attacked in the first ad returns with friends-- a Troll and a pretty well-done Tauren. Get it? "Well-done Tauren"?

The guy that rescues them, says Terra Nova (who somehow never saw the first ad), is none other than futbol star Cristiano Ronaldo (which explains why he kicks a soccer ball at the Orc). Also, I hear there's more of these floating around. If you see any more, let us know.

Filed under: Human, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, News items

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