Having players from other cultures in the same virtual environment might have been seen as a positive thing. After all, this is presumably why we have study abroad programs and why we attempt to teach foreign languages. In the discussion about gold farmers and language fluencies in MMOs however, responses on the official WoW forums suggest otherwise.
If you don't speak English, don't play on the US servers. Simple as that.
I still don't understand it, if you don't speak English and you are Chinese, why not play on a Chinese server?
Even in the most positive light, there is something xenophobic about these statements, but more importantly, it's hard to not interpret them as the digital variation of "go back to your own country". And beneath all that is the eerie undertone of "this land belongs to us and we prefer to keep it that way" - a digital country club where language fluency is the membership fee. In other words, even in a land of Orcs and Night Elves, some people simply don't belong in Azeroth.
The language fluency issue is also strange because many forum posts are dedicated to illustrating that players who do speak perfect English can also be just as annoying and infuriating in the game. For example, in a thread titled "Whats the STUPIDEST whisper u ever got" on the WoW forums, we can find many examples of these:
Idiot: Ok, summon Otherguy.
Me: Uh, I can't summon.
Idiot: You out of shards? We can get you more.
Me: No, I've never had shards. I'm not a warlock. Warlocks summon and use shards. Mages do not summon and do not use shards.
Idiot: OMFG learn to play ur class n00b!
Me: Seriously, mages CAN'T summon.
Idiot: OMFGLMAO mages can 2 summon. i've seen it. now summon Otherguy, b!@#$.
Me: Not only is that uncalled for, but I've trained at least rank one in every ability. No summon. Idiot: I can't believe this. Look, only reason ur here is cause we need the summon. Mages suxxor, so summon and we'll get on with it.
Druid: Hey priest make me water!
And several players described requests such as the following, all done in perfect English:
Standing in front of the bank in Iron Forge when a guy walks up and whispers: "Will you take your top off for me?"
Finally, I offer you this player's experience which I think hits at the heart of the issue of language fluency:
I don't believe I've interacted directly with a gold farmer. I've seen them in chat at times selling items, or asking for water... but that's about it. I mainly hear people yelling and complaining or insulting gold farmers with racist slurs. People seem very racist. This is much more obnoxious and intrusive. [WoW, F, 36]
But my point is that the language fluency issue is ironic given that players who do speak English can say far more offensive and annoying things.
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