Respecting Diversity   34 comments

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”.

Wait, What?

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.

Respecting Diversity

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.

Posted October 4, 2010 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts

34 responses to “Respecting Diversity

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  1. actually got people to translate common instance phrases into a bunch of different languages:

  2. It’s good to see when people are willing to try. When I was doing customer service I frequently ended up trying to help people (thankfully in person) that didn’t speak English. It’s amazing how fast you can communicate simply pointing at things.

    For a more WoW relevant version, on my Alliance Paladin, I had the help from, then tanked for a Blood Elf Mage as we both did the three Riders quests in Icecrown, then we took down Orbaz together, killing each once for the two of us. All we had to communicate with each other was base emotes, but we still understood what each other ment.

    Honestly, I’d rather have people I can’t easily communicate with on my battlegroup than Horde side Mal’ganis. I have two characters that have full ignore lists, and every single one ends in -malganis.

    Deandre - Dalaran
    • I wish more people would try just a little bit! A little effort can go such a long ways sometimes. It’s a shame that more people don’t realize that, or don’t care. It’s easier to just be rude than to try to understand, unfortunately 😦

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Respecting Diversity « Falling Leaves and Wings --

  4. I play on the EU servers and for the majority of the players people do speak English (not of course counting the non-English servers – but I never really notice getting into a group with someone from those servers, so not sure if we’re on the same battlegroup or if they’ve separated us completely).

    Once in a while though, we do end up with people in our groups who don’t seem to speak English. Not from the non-English servers.. but they just don’t seem to know English. Either that or they don’t care. Cause you’ll ask them, even using their in-game name and they won’t say anything. Sometimes I wish they’d at least acknowledge the fact that someone is trying to talk to them. Even just a “Sorry I don’t know English” (in their own language) so that I can see they aren’t just someone ignoring everything said in chat.

    I don’t make fun of people who don’t know English, the Heroics at least for now are easy enough – the only problem would possibly be not communicating if you want to do something out of the ordinary – like achievements. But really, you could just wait until next time and save everyone some trouble if one person in the party doesn’t understand what you’re talking about.

    • I know it doesn’t for the North American release, but it’d be nice if when someone linked an item, achievement, or quest that the linked thing would function like the Final Fantasy XI translator and always show in the language of each client.

      Deandre - Dalaran
    • I didn’t realize that the EU servers were segregated with some language barriers in mind. I find that interesting! That being said – with so many diverse cultures in Europe, am I mistaken in thinking I read somewhere that a fair few people speak English a bit so as to ease communication?

      Although, I think growing up in such diversity also probably goes a long ways in accepting diversity. I do agree that being completely silent isn’t necessarily the best way to go about letting people know that you don’t understand them.

  5. Well stated, Beru. Muy bueno, y muchas gracias!

  6. I’ve never actually come across people who don’t speak english at all, I’ve come across people that don’t speak the language well, but it never struck me that there may be a day where I come across someone who may not be able to speak to me (Horde not included). It makes me wonder what I’d do in a situation where no one can understand me, I mean, the obvious choice is emotes and such, but there aren’t emotes for some things like asking to roll need on [Super Pants of Offspecness] for your offspec. It would be a frustrating situation, but there are some things that are unavoidable in WoW, and most people greet these things with hostility, which results in the odd person out being treated like they are worthless.

    • There are definitely folks out there who don’t speak English 🙂 I think it’s only frustrating if you let it be frustrating. I do believe that you have control over that. You just have to be flexible and adapt to the situation. But you are absolutely right that most people don’t adapt and treat the situation with hostility. Which is unfortunate.

  7. The Bloodlust battlegroup is also very diverse. Its a mix of US and Oceanic servers and there is a large cultural mix of Aussies, Kiwis, Singaporeans, Chinese, Koreans and Americans. While I’ve never experienced someone that couldn’t speak English it amazes me how different the slang and chat tones are depending on the mix of people in the party.

    Most of the time you just overlook things that come across as offensive to you and learn to just be accepting of different peoples/cultures way of doing things. Sometimes its a little harder.

    I’ll never forget one run Cass and I did late one night and we were grouped with some Americans from Proudmoore and Blackrock. They kept calling everyone “Nigger” which was really grating to me. Eventually I couldn’t help myself and just said, “Let me guess you guys all live in the U.S hey?” they couldn’t understand how on earth I picked up on it 😛

  8. I really, really hate the language/cultural elitism that can crop up when grouping cross server. Some of my friends rolled on a Latin American server a year or so ago while their realm was down “just for laughs”. Because going around with your offensive “Spanishy” names /saying the four misspelled words in Spanish you know is really hilarious. I was super disappointed in them.

    Fortunately, nowadays heroics are silent. In your tanking situation I would have fully expected no response from the healer for any number of reasons. (I even know some people who turn party chat OFF for randoms) Emotes are good, as well as keeping an eye on the mana and activity of the healer. If they don`t seem to be afking, dawdling, or drinking, then I push ahead.

    • What I don’t understand about it all is exactly what the hell is there to be elitist about?!?! I suspect that a lot of Americans don’t realize that they are being stereotyped by others just as they are stereotyping themselves. And it’s not positive. Unfortunately so many people do nothing to dispel those stereotypes, and only do things to encourage them 😦

  9. Actually we have 3 Spanish servers: Drakkari (PvP), Quel’Thalas (PvE), & Ragnaros (PvP). (I say “we” because I originated on Eonar, though now I’m on Elune.)

    I always consider it a delight whenever I see one of those servers pop up under someone’s name in my tooltip. Gives me a chance to learn. It’s really cool if they link something, because it gets linked in Spanish, but if I click it, my client will (of course) give me the English tooltip.

    I took Latin, so I can kind of guess my way to a really bad translation, but I don’t know enough to respond. I think I will go bookmark that WoW Insider article, though.

    I just hope it’s okay that I don’t remember which keybinds give me the funky characters. (Don’t tell me anything on the numpad, because my laptop doesn’t have one.)

    • I agree that I think it’s neat to see people from other cultures pop up in my LFD groups! It amazes me how widespread WoW is, and how many people the game has an effect on. I think it’s fantastic. I also never pass by a chance to let my high school Spanish shake some rust off 🙂

  10. Want an example of disrepect of diversity? Any time someone says “that’s gay”. English is my second language, and though I am fairly proficient in it, I take no offence if someone criticises my grammar or spelling. “That’s gay”, however, pushes all my PC buttons. In a little funny anecdote, someone uttered that sentence in my last raid; I immediately asked him to refrain from using it, and just about every other person in the raid cheered me on pointing out how disrepectful, sexist, and just plain dumb it is. Sometimes, I love my fellow raiders 🙂

    • I will admit that I have been guilty of saying “That’s Gay” before. Never negatively, at least that was never my intention, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t offensive to someone else. I think I stopped using the term one day when I slipped up in my office and referred to a very feminine umbrella as a “gay umbrella” – and potentially offended one of my co-workers. It was embarrassing for me – and en eye opener. I was hugely apologetic, and dare say I learned by lesson and haven’t used the term that way again.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think that everyone is the same as me, or as sensitive as me. In the big scheme of things, I do think that a lot of people don’t see the offense in the statement. Honestly – I think that is true for a huge number of things people say without really realizing *exactly* what they are saying.

  11. I play on an EU server and when I was first learning to heal I ran late night heroics with an Italian guild that needed a healer (before lfd). I had a blast for a couple of months and even learned some Italian.
    I have been on US servers and found the racial epithets incredible that are usually not voiced in EU servers but the ones that really push my buttons are common to both. I am talking about ‘gay’ and the use of the word ‘rape’.

    I cannot see why Blizzard does not have a list of words that are considered bannable when used in trade or party chat. It is actionable to use these words in a face to face environment so why not in game?

    • Oh! I bet those Italian accents were dead sexy! I think I’m slightly jealous 😉

      That being said, I do think that a lot of people from the US are naive about what is offense to other people both inside, and outside, of their culture. It makes me a little bit sad, honestly, to see how frequently people disregard other peoples thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, this isn’t just limited to in game, it is also prevalent in many places in the US as well. I am often thankful for my humble Midwest upbringing, and parents who taught me that respect is earned, and a two way street.

  12. We have a number of Quebecois in our guild. They’re all stellar people and marvelous players, and I usually jump at the chance to group with them and cheer inside when I hear them on vent. They understand and speak English, but will occasionally drop into French to explain things to one another. I’ll react by using some of the dozen words of Finnish I remember, which usually gets a laugh from the other part-Finn.

    • We had a group of Quebecois on our server at one point (I’m not sure how many of them are still around), and they had a French speaking guild. From time to time we’d get a player that would app and be extended a trial, and sometimes it was challenging to communicate instructions with them, but we are also fortunate to have a few fluent French speakers who would help them out.

      Ultimately, those that didn’t speak fluent English didn’t stay, not because we treated them poorly, but rather, I think, because they felt left out with our dominant language being English. I imagine that it’s probably hard to be surrounding by people talking and not being able to understand what is being said, or be able to communicate back 🙂

  13. I completely agree with Beru. I use the LFD extensively on my tanks and heals (because I dont have the patience to use it on my DPS at all). I have found myself numerous times in a group where some English speakers get upset because 2 or 3 members of the group dont speak English. I dont fully understand this, but hey, I am a laid back type of individual (usually).
    Since I tank or heal these, I have made several emotes that usually help with the language barrier (I will admit I have used some of these while leveling to help dirty Alliance players take down elites, lol). Its especially useful when the Tank and Heals dont speak the same language.
    The way I look at it is this is a game, you should be having fun. We are given alot of tools to help ensure there is some form of communication between the players (even if its not ideal). The ones that usually dont want to utilize them are the ones that are using the LFD for their daily Random, and dont really want to be there in the first place, other than for their 2 Frost Badges. Those are usually the ones that end up dying a few times (because I forget to heal, or pull the mobs off of them when they pull aggro…..whoops). As I said, I am usually a laid back individual, but that doesnt mean I dont have a vindictive streak in me occasionally.

    • I also find it odd that people get affronted when they are grouped with someone who doesn’t have English as a native language. It makes absolutely no sense at all. Sadly, it’s somewhat of an uneducated mindset. I do think that a big part of the problem is that people just want to zerg through the instance for their frosties and move on. They have no interest in anything else, which considering that this is an MMO, is quite sad.

  14. Kudos to you, Beru, on bringing this subject up!

    I have to add, though, that this situation isn’t as much one-sided by english speakers as it may seem. Being brazilian with a somewhat fluent grasp on english (that only got better after I started socializing with people on WoW), I often see the same situations you described mirrored by the non-english speakers. The prejudice and anonimousity that the internet, the game and, more specifically, the LFD tool bring on people is overwhelming sometimes. I often communicate in english on the groups I get in, and more often then not (specially from people from Quel’Thalas server – yeah, I’m from Llane too), I see the same kind of desregard that you just described on your article. Sometimes even worse – I’ve once got a group where they ended up coordinating how to screw me up (I was tanking) in spanish… things like pulling aggro intentionally, or making me run all over the place to grab strays they got on purpose… after I let them die for the second or third time (but also rezzing them after the deed), I told them I was brazilian, and, though I don’t really speak spanish, the language roots are close enough to know what they were talking about. They apologized (in spanish) and the run went smoothly after that, but I HOPE they got the message that, it is not because someone spoke to you in english, spanish, french or another language than your own, it doesn’t mean that they can’t understand you.

    On the other hand, I also had good experiences, like a couple argentinian girls (also from Quel’thalas) trying to communicate with the rest of the group, and I had to act as an interpreter between english and “portu-spanish”, or another brazilian friend of mine with italian parents making friends with people from Italy… I think as far as people actually try to not let their xenophobiac prejudice act up, they can see that, no matter the language barrier, the game has everything to bring people together. 🙂

    • I actually knew that a number of the players on our server are Brazilian. I also know that a good number of them are quite skilled as WoW players 🙂 What I find a bit more interesting is that apparently this attitude isn’t one way! But I am glad that you seemed to have made an impression on some of the group you were with!

      I really do wish more folks would make an effort to try and learn from these experiences instead of reject them.

  15. I, admittedly, don’t have much experience trying to communicate with people who speak a different language within my battlegroup.

    However, just because there is a language barrier doesn’t mean people can’t be decent enough to follow the basic rules of etiquette and politeness. /sigh

  16. I’ve been a competitive WoW player for a few years now. I play on a Korean server.
    It’s funny how all of you guys say ‘they don’t understand me’. Have you ever come across the thought that it is actually you the one not understanding? The first thing about being equal is actually putting you at the same level of different people and not automatically thinking that you are the leader and you must be understand and followed.
    Remember that Americans have always being behind Asians and most of the time Europeans in WoW rankings. So I don’t understand why you guys automatically think you are the pro players.
    Now, imagine that I’m from Costa Rica and read the whole post again. If you think different now because you know I’m latino, then yeah, you do in fact disrespect diversity.

    • Actually, I’m not ssure I said “they don’t understand me”, I think I said that there was a breakdown in communication 🙂 I also am not sure that I gave the pretense that I assumed they were the odd man out instead of me. Actually quite the opposite, I think, given the example I gave where one of my guildmates was in a group where she was the minority voice.

      Honestly, I don’t know that I care so much about WoW rankings. Now – if you had offered something more concrete, such as “Americans are behind the Japanese in Technology and Science” I doubt you would have an argument from me. I also don’t think anywhere in my post I said that Americans were superior “pro” players. Quite the opposite actually, I promoted that everyone can be equally talented regardless of where they are from or what language they speak. Personally, I’d like to think that I’m a fairly unbiased person and open to a lot of things. But that’s just me!

  17. Im surprised at how much of an issue people have made this into. Maybe once every few days I’ll do a random or two, and really, no one ever talks at all, regardless of their assumed language.
    At this point in the expansion, even a tank isnt all that needed, as long as the healer is decent. (Had a tank in UP that decided to stop playing after the Blue Protodrake guy. So we finished the zone with me tanking as a rogue)

    • I really dislike how nobody ever talks in randoms, actually. I wish that there was more conversation. I feel so disconnected with the community in a PuG. I always try to pipe in and start a conversation.

  18. One other thing I have been disgusted with. I immediately leave a group when somebody wirtes “ni**a” or some other version of the N-word. I dont know what race the person may be that is typing that, but it is instantly offensive beyond belief to me (and I am sure to others). I dont care what the context is, it is offensive

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