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?