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Discrimination and WoW

Jennie Lees

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?

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