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The Pestilence Trope

With the Chinese stereotype firmly in place, a familiar trope comes into play - the association between Asia and diseases. The Asian flu pandemic of 1957, and the more recent Asian bird flu crisis and SARS crisis all tie diseases to Asia repeatedly in a way that are seldom tied to Western countries and regions (except perhaps the British mad cow outbreaks). Margaret Cho highlights this trope with her parody of SARS:

I got back from Toronto, where they had a severe outbreak of SARS - you know, Severe Asian Racism Syndrome. I was in the airport and there were these big snowboarder guys and they had white masks around their necks, and as soon as they saw me, they put their masks on. So I just went "*cough, cough, cough* You wanna egg roll?" (from Margaret Cho, Revolution, 2003)

But this trope plays out on forums and player narratives as well. In the "Stop calling people Chinese farmers" thread, one reply stated:

I'll not only call them CHINESE FARMERS....I'll call them a disease that has inflicted this game.

Gold farmers are the rats of every game. They are everywhere and they multiply in a blink of an eye.


The pestilence trope then brings into forefront notions of eradication and extermination. Depending on the game and the game mechanics, this is typically a combination of systematic harassment and slaughter:

The only good kind of farmer is a dead one. [WoW, M, 38]

Yes. I enjoy killing gold farmers repeatedly. I play on PvP servers. [WoW, M, 26]

In Lineage 2 there were constantly Korea farmers and we hated them and killed them constantly. I can honestly say the way Korean players acted in that game was enough for myself and my guild to stereotype Korean teenagers, then hunt them down and kill them all. [WoW, M, 40]

In 2004, a fan video titled "Farm the Farmers Day" showed actual footage as players tracked down and massacred players they suspected to be adena farmers (see Constance's paper for more on this).

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Posted on January 2, 2006 | Comments (119) | TrackBack (0)

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Tribal design by snoopydoo. Crusader graphic by Gravity. All other materials available at The Daedalus Project are copyright 2003-2006 by Nick Yee.