Since I live in the UK and play on European servers, I’m used to guild members being from a multitude of countries. It’s quite a nice experience, actually – especially for someone from the US, where you may occasionally play with Australians or Canadians, but that’s usually as exotic as it gets.
In my Warcraft guild, we have people from all over – our guild leader is Spanish, there are people from Poland and the Netherlands, Portugal, Andorra, Turkey, Croatia, Sweden, and so on and so on…plus the odd Russian or French player who opted to stay with friends rather than piss off to those servers when they opened. Everyone has an interesting accent but they all speak and write almost perfect English (which makes me feel positively illiterate, with my one language and a few remnants of high school Spanish).
We have to plan raids around a variety of holidays, and discussions of things like Christmas traditions are fascinating. Part of the criteria for joining the guild is the ability to speak and write English to an understandable level, and having conversations in one’s own language in guildchat is considered to be rude. A shared language is important.
However, that connection doesn’t seem to carry over very easily to sites like Facebook. It makes sense, as most people have family, work friends and real-life friends on their social networks, and of course you would communicate in your home language in those areas. Add in good friends from the guild, however, and it turns into an online Tower of Babel – you have friends posting things that you can’t understand or share in.
It’s a shame, really. Most people are tending to narrow their focus down to less networking sites, as people abandon MySpace and Bebo and concentrate on sites like Facebook. Twitter exists, as do blogging – but those can be integrated into your network of choice. This is why separate gaming networks where you can share personal updates with guildmembers aren’t the best idea – too scattered. Translation tools would be useful, however – our social networking tools need to adapt and become more useful globally.
That’s what I would like to see – a Babelfish type of translation tool for Facebook, so that the one part of my life that is not connected can be. I wouldn’t add most of the guild, to be honest…but there are some that I have on my friends list, or would like to.
I just haven’t the faintest damn idea what they’re posting about. :D
2 thoughts on “Social Networking and Multicultural Guilds”
MMO’s are in a minority, from the point of view of different languages and cultures. Most people end up playing on English speaking realms because they know it’s the best place for the largest numbers. I think that given the choice people would stick to their own language realms.
If you look closely at the names of places not only in your post but generally in say WoW you will notice France and Germany most notably missing. They have a large population of gaming cultured people and they tend to stick to the realms in their language.
Ok so most of what I am saying is taken from experience and can probably be dismissed in seconds, but when you stop and think about it, generalising aside, for the most part, people tend to stick with people that speak their own language naturally and only break the rule/mould when they see it as beneficial.
Of course, we’d all like to communicate in our own language – given my extremely limited language skills, I’m just lucky that the common language here tends to be English, or I wouldn’t talk to anyone! :D But I have made very good friends in game, and adding them on Facebook just doesn’t work…which is why a translation tool would be pure win. Part of my life does tend to be lived online, which is why those game friends are oftentimes better, deeper friends than people I know from work.