Discrimination in World of Warcraft

Apparently, discrimination is becoming a problem in World of Warcraft. Some players are refusing to accept other players into their group unless they can chat in perfect, unbroken English. This phenomenon is being blamed on a widespread backlash against the practice of gold farming, which is unfairly associated with all non-English speakers in general.

There is nothing new to this. The particulars might be unique, but the basis for this behavior has always been there, lying just under the surface of all multiplayer video games. I will never forget the first time I logged onto a multiplayer server and saw one game session entitled “NO JEWS”. I joined the session, of course (in addition to all our other faults, we Jews can’t follow directions.) I thought I might learn something from the experience, but after 20 very sad minutes, all I’d discovered was a strong correlation between bigotry and the use of foul language.

Gold farming has simply become a handy excuse for some people to indulge in their darker impulses. So what can MMORPG developers do about it? 1) Don’t add fuel to the fire by publishing scathing remarks about the practice of gold farming. If you don’t like it, just deal with it quietly, fairly, and efficiently. 2) Reward diversity. Perhaps groups that are comprised of players from different countries could be rewarded with an experience point bonus? Or perhaps diverse guilds could be rewarded in some way? These are just idle thoughts, but I think the idea is at least worth considering. Bringing people together is one of the most socially-beneficial things an MMOG could ever do. And hey, you might even be able to get some decent PR out of it.

PS. If you haven’t read always_black’s famous short story, Bow Nigger, you really should.

*Update: in response to the unexpected controversy this has generated, I’ve posted a followup for clarification’s sake.

*Update 2: as promised, in response to all the controversy, I’ve written an article for Gamasutra about designing an MMORPG user feedback system, which is meant to address legitimate player concerns about bad teamwork, loot theft, etc.

132 responses to “Discrimination in World of Warcraft

  1. Did you ever have the experience where you played an MMORPG in a party with non English speaking people in it ?
    Once you overcome the communications problems you can end up being lumbered with Ninja looters who take every
    single piece of good loot with no regard for others & then hide behind “I dont understand” when you try to
    change their behaviour. Segregating them is not the way to go but there are many reasons people make groups
    with names like english speaking only, people play games for fun. Its no fun struggling to communicate with
    people who dont understand you especially if they are beahving in a manner you term “innapropriate” so Gold
    Farming is not the only problem general communications problems make the game no fun at all which may explain
    this new trend.

  2. What you could have written is an interesting commentary on online life.

    What you actually wrote was very badly researched FUD. If you had just done the basic research like checking whether Chinese people should be playing on US servers it could’ve looked very different.

    The European servers are dividedly clearly into language – English, French or German. That’s not where you’re from, that’s what language you’re expected to speak when playing on it. If you can’t speak that language, you’re not being discriminated against, you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be.

    What’s next, claiming discrimination if someone who doesn’t speak a word English can’t follow his English language university course?

  3. I agree with the fact that not being able to understand people in your group being a hinderance on the game play. I’d probably rather join with someone that can speak english because, I speak and type english. If I was french, then I’d probably want to group up with people that are french also, it just a simple factor of comunicating on a common ground. I’ve never played WoW, but I’ve played many MMORPGs that are made by european companies and many of the players all speak different languages, many english speaking players don’t associate with people who speak other languages for the simple fact that they don’t understand each other. Every group/guild/corporation I was part of were all fluent english speakers, and I don’t ever remember there being rules that people had to speak english, because of the simple fact of communicating, and in the one game we had atleast one person from every continent, except the cold one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much against racism, but just because someone speaks a differnet language dosne’t automatically mean they’re of different race either. Let’s face it, how many times have you been on tech support and right away you relize it’s someone over seas that you can hardly understand, and how frustrating is it to deal with them, I’ve had that happen to me with everything from student loan phone support to ISP tech support, and it’s extremely frustrating.

  4. Facts:

    Fact 1: English is the international business language, and the most widely spoken language in the world.

    Fact 2: WoW is gay.

    Fact 3: 99% MMORPG players live in their parents basement up until the age of 35; after that they either die from forgeting to eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, etc.

    Fact 4: Blogs are stupid even down to the word “blog”

    Fact 5: This is the stupidest link to ever appear on Digg.com

    Fact 6: Who ever made that graphic of the stick figures at the top discriminates against skinny malnurished people with big heads.

    Fact 7: No matter what language you speak, if you play mmorgps, you’re a douche.

    Fact 8: True diversity dosen’t necesarily come from the color of one’s skin.

    Fact 9: Mexican Gold farmers work cheaper.

    Fact 10: “leet” speak does not make you cool, and it never will, people hate you in real life for a reason.

    There, Now everyone is fairly discriminated against, quit the bitchery.

  5. Affirmative action in video games?, points for diversity? oh my fucking god, i cant believe this shit was linked to on bluesnews.

    Thankfully multiplayer gameplay is based on free association, so silly totalitarian ideas like this are very unlikely to happen.

  6. You know what? I agree 100% with excluding non-English players on US servers from joining my raid.

    Let me type it again.

    Yes. I fully support discriminating non-English speakers.

    Why? Sure, ninja/farming is one very good reason. (And before you argue master looter – no, sorry, there are still problems with master looter in 1.9 – especially with long queues and disconnects.)

    But an even more important issue is FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS.

    If I had a dime, no, a NICKEL for every time the raid was instructed to wait, hold up, attack this, don’t attack that, and sure enough the non-English twit did the opposite thing and caused a wipe…

    Nothing prevents the non-English from soloing, or even joining a group or raid of same-language speakers.

    But I refuse to allow ’em in my group.

    Deal with it. Learn to play. Oh, and learn English on an English-server. I certainly wouldn’t expect to log into a non-English server and have them bend over backwards for me.

  7. this is an overgeneralization. there are simple ways to weed out the players who abuse the game, and there are several moderation tools to prevent abuse from players. guilds are able to demote or promote people and the game has master looting abilities to prevent players from “stealing” or “ninjaing” items from the group’s progress.

    call it what you will, but if you just spent hundreds of hours trying to gather an item that was stolen i would submit that you’d be reluctant to invite a user back who was exhibiting the same behavior, and didn’t communicate with you or the group. a group of friends just changed guilds after working with a guild whose officers cussed members out and showed no remote sense of leadership or organization. after talking and grouping with guilds that have done a lot more end game content it’s quite simple to conclude that proper communication and maturity are absolutely necessary to progress in this game. most high level guild raiding incorporates the use of teamspeak or ventrillo, and little typing. poorly moderated guilds do not progress in this game because it demands communication, leadership, and organization. remember the game incorporates a monthly fee and a lot of groups are not going to tolerate destructive behavior. if you believe you have been unfairly discriminated against and harassed then you should use the in game help and report the offenders to a game master.

    take part in the forum community and report people who have farmed items from the group.

    i would submit that the users supporting gold farming are a bigger problem. the game has an economy that can be broken.

  8. I once went to Denny’s and they had a sign “Smoking Section (Tobacco Only)”
    I felt extremely discriminated against…

  9. Pingback: Mea Culpa » links for 2006-01-19

  10. Really, you know what I discriminate against most of all, not racial groups or groups that hold to a particular religion…

    I discriminate against twat headed self important idiots that have weblogs talking about “racism”. Yeah I really hate those morons, I mean how shit eating polically correct do you have to be in this world…

    Could it be that discrimination isn’t against a person’s background but against that person themselves? Oh.. The groups argument… Well tough shit it has always happened and always will happen…

  11. Pingback: Blog-Her » Blog Archive » links for 2006-01-19

  12. I play WoW and I enjoy it peroid. There are faults there is racism and biggotry

    I speak AMERICAN and I dislike gold farmers!

    If you really want to get down to it.. I’ve rarely grouped with other “races”
    and if I have you know what I didn’t know it and I dont care. if they follow
    instruction they stay they repeatedly BEEP-up they go.

    and just on a side note I hate people from brazil (not really) but I have
    been ninja’d 4 times this month by them.. is it racism? is it countryism. no it’s
    plain old HATEISM I hate people who steal from me, wether it’s by raising
    prices on the server or by stealing directly from me.

    Should I HATE the casual gamer too? they steal my time by not being as well
    geared as me or lacking in as much “skill” as me

    Come on people it’s a game enjoy it and play it with all it’s faults or dont
    it is UP TO YOU no one else is going to make you play a game!

  13. Erik aka "Reanimus"

    It’s common practice to not invite someone who acts immature, talks like “lol can u give me 5 gold plz or ill pk u”, or doesn’t use common English. The common English part is where the so-called ‘discrimination’ gets lumped in.

    You are right, there IS discrimination, but it is not aimed towards any nationality or group of people as a whole.
    I think the majority of WoW players would agree with me that; if any discrimination takes place; we are trying
    to weed the immature and stupid players out of our groups.

    Sadly, this also means that some players who do not speak perfect English may be excluded.

    If you run the higher end instances or battlegrounds, they require a great deal of focus and communication.
    One little mistake in Molten Core could contribute to your whole team dying(called ‘wiping’).

    Regarding the term “Chinese farmer,” I really don’t think it would be so commonplace (or even that big a deal) if they would just farm and leave others alone.

    No native American bats an eyelash when someone is called an indian giver.

    But when the majority of farmers not only do not speak English, are belligerent and even rude (demanding things like conjured food and water), and will GRIEF you by training high-level monsters in the area on you if you so much as come close, I believe they have justly earned the ire directed towards them.

  14. DavidEderysDaddy

    Dave you’re totally screwed up with the comments here. You read a post on slashdot and think it gives you the right to rip this off and try to make a story out of nothing. There is nothing wrong with controlling who is in your group. My brother runs a guild where he only allows people that they know personally and all of them are American. That’s RACIST?? I can’t believe he does that!!! Some guilds do not allow kids in their guild OH NO THAT’S AGE DISCRIMINATION!!! I’m not saying slanderous and racist comments don’t occur in games. These comments also happen in KKK protests in front of a state capital bldg. They occur all over the internet. Back to your linking of WoW and MMORPG with racism, quit trying to get some mileage out of a blank story with no content or substance.

  15. Not being able to speak English is a perfect reason not to let somebody into your group, since communication is a very important part of WoW. If players can not effectively communicate with their party members then they won’t be a valuable addition to the party.

  16. Umm, it’s a game man, relax.

    Learn2Relax and Learn2Play

  17. ur all stupid its a game and racism is a part of life get over it and just stop
    crying and about the bit of not letting people into ur party cuz they cant speak
    good enough english thats not racist at the least its called being smart
    whos gonna work better 6 people that cant cleary understand eachother or 6
    people that know exactly whats going on. The bottom line is “racism” and every
    other thing u can be upset about is a part of life and its never gonna
    b a perfect world so just deal with it nothings gonna change

  18. World of WarCraft Expansion set of new features:

    …new items
    …new character classes
    …new (no pun), races for alliance and horde
    …new dungeons to explore
    …new worlds to conquer
    …affirmative action

  19. in response to bob pumpkin;

    yeah, you’re right man, who’s the boh-zoh, who said something about bringing people together, about making the world a better place.
    What sort of hog-wash bull is that, right?

    Oh my god, people stop it! Stop trying to do positive things.

    Just ’cause the world is bad doesn’t mean it can get better. Let’s just accept things just as it is.

    My friend the Pumpkin Man got an F on his last term paper, and you know what he said, “Uh, screw it. I give up. No point in trying, I suck at English.
    That’s just the way things are, and that’s how they’re always going to be.” That’s the spirit!

    Yes, people, you know what, instead of detracting from all the negativity in this world. Let’s just re-inforce it. All together now.

    Level 60’s should all just be banned from playing WarCraft, obviously, they have too much time on their hands. Argh, I can’t stand it.

    Oh yeah, and those people who happen to exploit a gameplay issue, and benefit from it. Ah, I hate those people too! Dangit.

    Ah, I just hate the world, and my life. Who’s with me?!

    In case you didn’t noticed, I thought it might be safe to point out the fact that I’m being sarcastic, in hopes of getting my point across.

  20. Well look at it this way, if there was an in game race that say could exploit and do something that would benefit their character but hurt the group, and say 90% of that class are using it. Would you group with these people?

    Any kind of racism is uncalled for. However, its profiling, the popularity of gold farming has led to this. This isnt just in WoW though so good job grabbing attention just to WoW. I played DAOC and their was a group of chinese players that played for no other reason than to farm gold and sell it online. Say you were hunting a camp, they would just run in and kill everything and take over. The same group has done it in various games. So whenever players see these characters they tend to have bad thoughts.

    It’s human instinct. Not everything in life is politically correct nor should it be.

  21. It’s a hard game to play without clear communication. I’ve met plenty of asian people in the game (because all asians play video games as well) that were decipherable enough and actually very helpful. However, a large percentage of people located in China who play this game are gold farmers. I don’t mean to say something outlandish like 99.9%, but I’d say it is in the 40-60% range… and that is quite a lot. It is not like someone is saying that all black people are drug dealers or something to that extent. This is a recognizable, known problem. The company that creates the game themselves, Blizzard, have recognized this and banned thousands of players for things relating to gold farming. I personally do not have a problem with it, because most of the people in the game that rely on buying gold to make their characters aren’t very good or smart in the first place. Just an FYI, there are oceanic servers for the game as well that have a smaller number of Chinese players just because there is less of a market for gold there. A lot play on American servers. Of course, it’s impossible for me to say whether they are on the american servers because more people play on them or because they are selling gold. Typically in the game they are very easy to recognize due to their similar actions. These people do not do this independantly – they are part of a company so they share in behavior.

  22. In addition to the mundane issues about communication (which you really can’t dismiss the importance of), it’s worth mentioning that WoW is a roleplaying game as well. At the most basic level, that means that a lot of what a lot of people want from the game is story and interpersonal interaction. As much as I try very hard to have nothing against the average non-english speaker (having dealt with enough in person makes it easier), the default of ‘this person is a farmer/griefer/etc.)’ is surprisingly easy to come by in an MMO.

    The storytelling aspect is for me the one and only issue that is a dealbreaker with non-english speakers, however. I can’t interact with these people to tell a story any more than I could read a novel written in a language that I couldn’t understand, or even one I understand poorly. Any of these people may have a great interest to cooperate and have compelling stories to tell, but if I can’t understand them or communicate with them, it very swiftly ruins my experience. Compare it to a novel where every fifth, or every tenth, chapter is written in chinese; or where the footnotes are incomprehensible. At best, you’d skip those chapters or notes, at worst you’d drop the book entirely.

  23. Lol. That picture of the chinese with made me laugh. It’s funny too
    because it’s true.

    Also… FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Have fun complaining!

  24. you know an easy way to get rid of this problem? get rid of gold. instead, items such as food and water (and armor) will be doled out depending upon a player’s need. that should stop gold farming, and subsequently, the racism that comes from it.

  25. Akines ((A Proud WoW Player))

    The reason why many WoW players “discriminate” on players from Asian countries is for one reason is messes up the economy of their server. With this I mean they “Farm” or gather outstanding amounts of gold, sell it on many sites. When players by this gold they can basicly buy out Auction House (A place where may items are sold and bought in WoW), Putting the items on the AH or Auction house for outrages prices! SO DOWN WITH ASIAN PLAYERS ON AMERICAN AND EURO SERVERS!

  26. “See my earlier comments. Suffice to say, there are problems with the defensive logic offered here. Even if it were true that 100% of gold farmers are Chinese (which is factually incorrect), that does not therefore mean that 100% of Chinese are gold farmers.”

    Oh my god, I love the way you say this as if EVERYONE doesnt know that already and you have gained this insight through some secret formula you learned at cambridge. Its not the point AT ALL.

    Just THINK about what you are saying!
    “Someone wont PLAY with me, he violated my civil rights!”
    I cant believe this AMAZINGLY STUPID GARBAGE was linked to on AIM news.

    Ive never seen such an attention whoring, impractical, trying-to-look-smart MORON.
    Do something useful with your degree or just kill yourself now.

  27. It is simple supply and demand. People demand to buy gold. Someone will supply it. If no one bought the gold, there would be on one to pay the farmer to farm it.
    DON’T BUY GOLD.
    If everyone does this, there is no problem.

    Reality: This will never happen.

  28. I HATE DWARVES!!!!
    ELVES ROCK!!!!

  29. Mabey you should play the fucking game before you write this shit up?

    Gold farmers RUIN THE GAME. They really screw up the economy.

    Your idea to reward people that group with people of other races is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard.

    IF YOU PLAYED THE GAME you could relazise that Gold Farmers are a problem and need to be delt with. CAO NI MA!

  30. I think it’s a little difficult not to racial profile
    player’s when the truth of the matter is the majority are Chinese.

    J

  31. Full Sail Student

    just goes to show how much WoW sucks. you all have been arguing about discrimination for a game that has characters discriminating against each other. damn, get a life people. play something worth playing, get a life worth living.

  32. Aaron also a Full Sail Student

    I have to agree with my colleague, WoW is possibly the worst thing you can to yourself. Hasn’t someone died while playing that game? It is … in fact … a game, so stop crying about discrimination and move on with your vapid lives. It hurts to see such stupidity so wide spread in the world.

  33. Ma cou mi tai ni fou shou! 1000g foa yu WoW un yee $50USD!!

    on yee pyay wi Alliance fo shou mai nigga

  34. you want buy gold kk?

  35. GOld farmers fuck the game up.Roll need when they dont need it. Then you ask them wtf is there problem an dits either no reply are in chinese…….IT PISSES YOU OFF thats why we discriminate…….I dont know one person that does that that isnt a chinese farmer……and who ever wrote that shit up there….you really need a life then to bitch over us haten the chinese gold diggers.

  36. Hoi Chi Miehn

    He right.

  37. Hoi Chi Miehn

    I no know one eithr

  38. Aaron also a Full Sail Student

    I’ve got an idea “Senior”, if that really is your name, dumbass … go to school, learn how to type, learn how to spell, learn how to properly use caps locks. If it bothers you so much why not go on their servers and be a gold digger. Sounds like they know what they’re doing and you’re mad because you didn’t think of it first :)

  39. Aaron, you must not have experienced an actual farmer. They screw up the game economy so much and when it comes time for teamwork they try to solo 5 elite mobs by themselves. That makes people angry and as we all know anger can lead to frustration and frustration to hate and hate to racism.

  40. Are you all virgins?

  41. Im making my return to say ITS JUST A GAME get over it heres adivice for
    ALL OF YOU “Shit Happens”

  42. shutup you cunt and get a life, no one cares about you.
    ure story sucks btw, chinneese peeps are gay. jp onrly
    is gay and black people are gay. My favorite servers
    are the white only servers. no stfu and dirty jew
    and go stick ure big nose in sumtin else

  43. hey im back, i just wanted to say wtf.when i play a game i dont a stupid jew on my squad, they dont know anything or how to play.
    i was playin CS:S the other day and this jew ran up to be and teamkilled me. after that i fuckin screamed dirty jew and went around my house posting
    no jews allowed and then went to kkk.om and
    post dirty messages cuz jes suck monster ballz and
    whoever wrote this is a fag and a pussy care bear
    FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND WHITE POWER!

  44. whats the difference between a pizza and a jew?

    only one screams in the oven.

    what do u say at night and ure tv starts floatin.

    drop it nigger.1!!!11!!111! loller swkates damn jews get a life lol
    wow u guyz suck its only a game

  45. I dont want to say I dont “dislike” gold farmers but, they do indeed screw up sometimes… It’s vital to talk to you team and be diverse when working in a group. If someone cant speak english, than they cant take order as in “Kite General Drakkisath”
    -Just opinion

  46. I think it is simplistic to reduce problems between different cultures as racism. Could it me that there is a problem with people farming gold in World of Warcraft? Could it be that most ot the people happen to be asian? Blizzard’s mission is not to “join the world” or teach us about diversity. It is to provide a quality gaming atmosphere without people altering the game by buying and selling gold. The writer is obviously writing from information gained from other sources and not first hand. I resent those that buy and sell gold. It has nothiing todo with race! Hello, nothing to do with race. Race, gender, age are not factors. If you played the game you would understand.

  47. All i shall say is…

    1 IN THE PINK

    56867965873567854684567845684568546875685485468458679834634565475474567567548546854845845845846784 IN THE STINK

  48. I have to say, in my experience, on AMERICAN servers (blizzard, among with all other MMORPG creators, create servers for specific groups of people), the general impression in joining the American servers is that you will be playing with Americans.

    Therefore – it is not too far out to expect that the players on these servers at LEAST speak English – the language of the server. Now, this is not a statement that everyone in America speaks perfect English; however, the “Chinese Farmers” are, in fact, primarily from Asia. And the only reason that they join the American servers, even though they are from Asia, is that the online trade community in America is much larger than over on the Asia-based servers. Therefore – our friends the Chinese farmers go all day, soloing dungeons with their hunters (Yes, 98% of all chinese farmers are hunters, beast/marksman spec usually 30/21 for those who actually play WoW), and they then proceed to sell their spoils on the Auction House to American players, who, on average, are much less economical-based than the Asian players, and more focused on the player-versus-player aspect of the game. THEREFORE – Chinese farmers come to make gold which is then sold online for money. They are economists, in all actuality.

    So, while I do not agree with people not native to their country’s servers – I think that Chinese farmers have opened a new branch of economics in WoW. They are to be thanked for a majority of the great items we purchase daily on the Auction House. If they wish to join groups, though, they had better speak English, because I hate nothing more than giving someone orders in an important quest or dungeon, only to have an unintelligable response, and they do nothing related to the task at hand.

    Speak the language of your server if you wish to play with the mass populous of the server. That is my point in a nutshell.

  49. what jews do is illegal, they farm gold all day in slave shops and get payed half a cent a day. jews are money hungry grubing faggots
    they got big noses, and ae out to still our economy. i hate chinesse cuz they steal my phat loot like in BRD this stupid chinesse stole my staff. im like WTF you damn slant eyed bitch speak english or leave earth and live on mars with ure damn alient friends. i know joo serects wtf get a life u chinks. i should go to ure gay country and beat u all up. we already bomb u once dont make us do it again. cuz its the chineese workin and the money hungry jews crackin the whips. like omfg wow its not bad enough peeps play wow 5 hours a day but u play 24/7 for what?!?!?! to make warlock gear cost 1000000000000000000000 gold FUCK YOU i didnt buy any of that i wroked for it unlike you damn chinks. for black peeps, u guyz need to stop being black. omg gay11!11!1111!11!11!111 btw i beat black peeps up in my colledge and steal there lunch money lol. anyways chinks steal my loot and i get pissed , and japs say jp onrly, and martin luther king doesnt deserve a holiday and the south will rise again!!! lol

  50. Alex Williamson

    I think the idea of getting bonuses for having people in ur guild from different countries is ridiculous…..in wow it is against the EULA to not speak the native language of the server u r playing on. “Asian” farmers have ruined the economy on many wow servers and they are notorious for ninja looting. there is nothing more annoying then being whispered buy gold at iamastupidchink.com

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