I don’t know how many other battle groups there are out there like the Vindication battle group. We are a US server cluster, however in our battle group we have two servers where the predominant language is Spanish instead of English. Now, I’m sure for those of you on an EU server, this is no big deal. I would imagine that you are relatively used to potentially zoning into a LFD group where maybe not everyone can communicate 100% effectively. Unfortunately, the US servers, at least in my battlegroup, don’t seem to be as open or as accommodating when it comes to cultural diversity in WoW.
I don’t think that I fully understood exactly how poorly we dealt with the differences until yesterday when I joined a LFD with my little tankadin, Nadine. You see, being a healer myself, I have a tendency to take care of my healers when I’m tanking. I like to make sure that they are ready for me to pull. As such, I often will ask the group “is everyone all set?” before initiating my first pull. And then I won’t pull until the healer has responded in the affirmative.
Well, this past weekend as I was doing just that – and my healer hadn’t responded – I waited a bit. Then I emoted to the healer. And that’s when it happened. When the cold reality of how cruel people can be really hit me. As I was waiting another person in the group said “they probably don’t even speak English, just pull”.
So the fact that they can’t speak English means that I should just disregard them? Act as if they aren’t there, and treat them as if they don’t matter? Really? Did someone really just suggest that I disregard a person because they are…different? Because perhaps I cannot understand them, or they me? I was absolutely floored. And that’s when it hit me, we really lack respect for the diverse player base that WoW encompasses.
And my memory took me back a couple of months.
It took me back to a time where a member of my guild was in a LFD group that was entirely comprised of players from a Spanish speaking server. And she couldn’t communicate with them. And she ranted about how terrible they were and how she couldn’t understand them and it was just stupid. But I got to thinking – were they really terrible players? Or was her frustration about being different and feeling “left out” of the conversation spilling over and what she found terrible was not their level of play, but the fact that they were different and she couldn’t understand what was being said or what was going on?
And then that got me to thinking again. Perhaps what she experienced in that one group is what the predominately Spanish speaking players in our battle group feel in almost every group that they join. I mean, it’s only two servers out of what? Fifteen? More often than not, they are the ones that are left to feel frustrated that they cannot effectively communicate with the party. They cannot say “Hey, can I need that?”.
And yet, we are the ones making fun of them. We are the ones naming them “terrible”. We are the ones cracking jokes about people from “x” server. And why? Because we can’t understand them? Because they are different? Because maybe they aren’t as advance as we are? Whatever the reason, I can hardly find it acceptable.
Do we try to communicate when we don’t understand?
I have had my own share of frustrations when I can’t communicate with someone in my party. I have watched other members of my party belittle the person that can’t understand us, instead of trying to help find a solution for communication. And mostly, I’m disgusted. I fail to see why the fact that someone speaks a different language and is having trouble communicating is reason for ridicule.
Honestly, I look at it a little bit differently. I look at it, as I feel more people should, as an opportunity to learn. I have always regretted not being proficient at a second language.
I mean, be honest, when was the last time you had to pull out your high school Spanish and dust it off? It’s been awhile for me. But that’s OK. I still try. If I’m in a group where it’s clear members of my party speak Spanish, I do my best to respect that. I will always offer a “hello” in both English and Spanish “Hola”. I will always thank my group in both English “thanks” and Spanish “Gracias”. And even if I don’t do any more than that – I’d like to think that the effort that I made won’t pass by the party members unnoticed.
Finding ways to communicate.
Even if you don’t know a lick of Spanish – which you can’t even claim now, because I just taught you two words! – you can still seek out ways to communicate.
1) Emoting – this has been done for centuries all over the world. Ever end up somewhere that you don’t know the language? What do you do? Revert to hand gestures to try to help communicate your needs. Emoting can be an effective way to communicate in WoW as well.
2) Ask someone in your guild that is fluent in the language to help. I’ve certainly done this before. We have a native Spanish speaker in our guild, and when I run into a brick wall, I’ve often asked him “how can I say x”. I then copy paste the information that I’m trying to communicate, and do you know what? That tiny bit of communication helps a ton.
3) Google Translate. Sure, it’s not perfect. It’s probably horribly choppy. But you can type in what you want to say and google will translate it for you into any number of languages. Is it inconvenient? Maybe. But it sure beats treating a person like shit because they are different.
I get that sometimes it can be frustrating to be confronted by things that you don’t understand or that are different from what you are used to, but isn’t that part of what makes WoW so great? The fact that I can sit in my home in Seattle and get to experience a game with someone from Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Latin America? Shouldn’t I view the experience as a positive? Personally, I think it’s amazing that one game has crossed so many boundaries and can bring such diverse people together. Music used to be called the universal language – but I dare say that video games such as WoW, can come in as a close second. But that’s only going to happen if you let it.
The next time you zone into a group with someone that doesn’t speak your language, instead of shunning them, why not ask yourself “what can I learn from this experience”?
Oh – and the guy from my very first story above? Spoke fluent English and was fully affronted with the disrespect shown him by other members of my party…simply because they thought he was different.