Wings Over Atreia: A rant against xenophobia in Aion

Wings Over Atreia  Return of the Rant!
You know one of the great things about a weekly opinion piece? The ability to about-face and change topics when inspiration strikes... or you just can't bite your tongue any longer. And I am going to exercise that right right now: I'm diverging a bit from my intended thoughts about more of Aion's upcoming 3.5 goodies and addressing something that has been gnawing at me for the past few weeks.

Actually, address might be too gentle of a word because the more I think about it, the more it is turning into an outright rant. And you know that it takes quite a bit for me to get riled up enough to unleash; with only three rants in over two years, I definitely lag behind in the rant department!

What could be getting my goat enough to actually fire up the ol' rant-o-matic? It's not anything that's been done -- or not done -- by NCsoft. The company is in the clear this time. It's actually the players. More specifically, it is the unacceptable attitude of bigotry and intolerance that's being heaved about in Aion against other nationalities and other languages. A great big W. T. F. here folks. Now I am not accusing all players of this, not by a long shot. But the fact that it is cropping up with any frequency is a problem.

Something needs to be said. So I am saying it.

Aion screenshot
What's the beef?

Whoa! Even if technically I'd say F is for flapjacks, where does this topic come from that makes me, of all people, actually use an acronym with a bit of a kick? It started a few weeks back in the comment section.

You see, an accusation was leveled at me that I was writing articles up months in advance and just doling them out as necessary without ever playing (*looks at my timely article on the 4.0 announcement* OMG! I am obviously secretly precognizant!). The so-called proof of this inaccurate statement? The fact that I was avoiding important current "issues" in the game, issues like the Brazilians who don't speak English are taking over the servers and ruining the game.

Well the easy answer as to why I wasn't writing about this "issue" is that it isn't one. Seriously. Not. An. Issue. A non-issue.

Of course, I could expand on the answer and remind everyone that what I as an individual think is important and what I experience in game is not going to be the same as what everyone else does. And since this is my opinion column, it's my opinion and experiences that are highlighted here. But the fact of the matter is, I play Aion and don't have a problem with folks from other countries playing alongside me. Do they exist? Of course! Have I had interactions with them? Yup. Have I ever had a problem with them? No.

Aion screenshotProblem, problem, who's got a problem?

Since that xenophobic statement by one of my own readers, I've actually made a point to watch for indications of said so-called problem, including following the LFG channel more closely, which I rarely do thanks to the prolific occurrence of trolls and kinah-sellers. I've also grouped with folks who couldn't speak English, from Koreans to Brazilians to whatever else (I don't make it a point to ask people where they live). This is what I have found:

Some folks don't speak English! Hold the presses! No seriously -- even after mulling this subject over for weeks, I have yet to find a problem with the fact that not everyone on the servers speaks perfect English... especially since that list includes a number of primary English-speakers! The fact that some people are communicating in ways I don't really understand doesn't really top the vexation charts for me.

Granted, the language barrier sometimes makes it difficult to coordinate boss strategies in a group, like against the tree boss Dalia in Esoterrace. But it didn't spoil my game. I have had plenty of instances when trying to explain an encounter to an English speaker ended with about the same results. I have also grouped with folks who couldn't say more than two words to me due to the language barrier but still contributed to some of the most successful runs in my gaming career.

I have also noticed that an influx of folks from places like Brazil means more people in the game. How is this a bad thing? They don't have to speak your language to be a target during PvP right? I mean, unless your entire ego hinges on their understanding your smack-talk, I don't see a downside. A larger population also means more folks to buy from and sell to. Again, downside? Not seeing it.

It's a small world after all

I've heard the indignant warcry by a few to have all Brazilians removed from North American servers and sent to their own. You know, as if we owned Aion or something. Wow. Seriously? For all you in the let's-keep-the-game-exclusive-to-North-Americans crowd, remember: Aion was developed elsewhere, not here! And Koreans have been a part of the North American servers since the beginning. I'd bet the back 40 on the fact that these same folks who want to exclude the Brazilians whined and cried when the elite Korean groups excluded them.

Aion screenshotBasically, small-minded folks need to just get over it because in this day and age, there is just going to be a higher incidence of nationalities mixing in games as the MMOverse continues with globalization. I am all in favor of inclusion, not exclusion, when it comes to games; I happen to highly value many world-wide friends in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere and fully intend to continue to play with them. In fact, that's actually a criterion when I look at new games to play: Can my international friends join me or not? It's my opinion that more often than not, games that segregate are going to start losing business. Expecting Aion to enforce segregation is like wishing for its demise.

Now, I know that some groups advertise for English-only members. I don't have any particular problem with this; sometimes communication is a must, especially when close coordination is critical. This is pretty much like advertising for only a certain class or stigma spec. Honestly, it's your group and you can do what you want. Legions can also enforce their own membership rules. Just don't infringe on others' rights to play the game. But personally, I'll keep right on enjoying diversity in my groups.

Stop the insanity

I am happy to report that, from what I have witnessed and experienced, the vocal few and their bigoted ideas appear to be in the minority. Seraphim Lords help us if that ever changes. There is no place for that in game; keep the "racism" confined to Asmodian vs. Elyos. Quite frankly, I think anything else is unacceptable.

I have just one bit of advice for those so intent on blaming all their woes on another nationality and calling for their removal from the servers: Shut up or shut the door on your way out.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.