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Posts with tag culture

Racialized Trafficking in World of Warcraft

Last week I mentioned an article that talked about the cultural borrowing we see in World of Warcraft, and today I ran across a post on New Game Plus that looks at the same topic from a different perspective - the commodification and trafficking of virtual items and characters.  The article points out that female avatars tend to sell for less than male avatars, leading to the question of how the racial typing may also impact the perceived value of the character.  Interesting food for thought.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Cultural Borrowing in Warcraft

Terra Nova has an interesting article about the "cultural borrowing" that takes place in World of Warcraft - the way certain races in Azeroth have characteristics shared with social and ethnic groups from the real world.  However, I do wonder whether the characterization is really a negative one when the different factions (both the primitive Horde and the refined Alliance) are shown with equal strength  and capability.  Regardless, the article does present some very interesting food for thought.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves

Breakfast Topic: A whole new (international) world

Having recently obtained an American WoW subscription to go alongside my European one, I've been spending some time playing internationally. Surprisingly, the lag isn't a factor (at least at newbie level, because--of course--I've had to start from scratch), and the five-hour time difference hasn't come into play yet.

It's a weird mix of the familiar and unfamiliar--I'm used to seeing all sorts of European languages flashing past in General, as newly created characters seek out their countrymen. That's gone, but the countryside and quests are the same. These days, General is filled with shouted insults and puerile behaviour fit more for Xbox Live than WoW. Perhaps my Live experiences should have prepared me for people's ability to be entirely rude to complete strangers--or a zone full of them--but my WoW experiences hadn't.

When I move from European server to European server, I get a sense of disorientation when I walk around the cities and miss the familiar faces. Bereft of my guild, I feel defenceless and lost. Moving from European to American servers, however, is even odder. The cultures on the servers are different, as the patchwork amalgamations making up East and West in real life are different. From new in-jokes to a new Chuck Norris obsession, it's a whole new world.

Am I just particularly unlucky, finding a server whose General channels (Elwynn and Stormwind) were filled with insults and abuse? Is it culture shock, or something more reflective of the fact that only kids would be playing at 5AM server time? Is the bad behaviour of characters likely to put off complete WoW newbies, entering Northshire Abbey only to be greeted with a 'your mom' joke?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

Murlocs as the new Crazy Frog?

With a poster on the European forums enquiring after the Murloc sound as a phone ringtone, I have a horrible vision of the future. The all-too-familiar Murloc gurgle has something of the same catchiness as the Crazy Frog ringtone; it wouldn't take much for Blizzard, or some enterprising player, to remix the humble "RRrlllllRRR" sound into a new tune of epidemic viral proportions.

With a captive audience of over five million who'd buy into the brand, will we see the Crazy Murloc any time soon? Novelty Christmas single, humorous Flash video; the world is just waiting for murlocs to invade.

Filed under: Fan stuff

Discrimination and WoW

Murmurs of player discrimination have been surfacing recently; a forum thread on Tales of Warcraft has apparently grown to over 7,000 replies with many Chinese players posting that they have experienced racial discrimination from other players. This ties in with something I linked to here recently, an exploration of our attitudes to gold farming--it seems many players are assuming that broken English equals gold farmer, and shunning others totally based on this assumption. In Nick Yee's article, he points to a case where a French speaker was labelled as a Chinese farmer by an ignorant interlocutor.

As Game Tycoon points out, this isn't a new phenomenon. However, it is a worrying one, as it seems ignorance is overtaking good sense and causing problems all round. On the European servers, which are separated by language--English, French or German--many people play on the English servers without English as their first language. I frequently see adverts for Danish or Swedish guilds, and non-English chat in General, both of which are met with huge amounts of flaming from other players. However, English speakers don't shun these Europeans because they're suspected gold farmers, but because they don't obey the "rules" of the server.

Is the anonymity of virtual worlds a good thing, providing us with a mask to hide our racism and hatred behind? Or is it simply a love of the game and an adherence to rules that cause us to strike out with such a huge backlash against those who don't speak properly? Have you experienced or seen problems like this in-game?

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends

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