What do we make of China?

Terra Nova asked a very important question the other day. They noted Blizzard’s localizing of WoW for China. When looking at the aspect of 1.3 billion new consumers potentially entering the gaming market, “What do we make of China? And what do we make of Chinese gamers, now and in the future?” Two easy answers for that one. The first? Family.

1.3 Billion potential gamers. What could we do except welcome them with open arms? They outnumber us, but more importantly they are us. Granted WoW-China will have it’s own servers, but eventually we’ll all be playing the same games anyway. What to do isn’t much of a debate; games are an excellent learning tool. Maybe this potential interaction will help us learn from each other. Maybe even more interesting, we can study how we all play and compare. After all, if we are so different, it would seem that we would be different at play as well. So, that’s what we do. We watch, we interact, and we learn. And hopefully we all get along.

The second answer is we fight. This is what will really happen. Need proof? Play Halo 2 on XBox Live sometime. I can’t go five games without being called either a ‘nigger’ or ‘faggot’. Try it sometime. Sometimes it’s enough to just make me put the controller down and walk away. Similar points were made by Brooks Brown, the Columbine student who spoke about video game violence, and the blame to be placed on children who go wrong. And think MMORPGs are different? Think players are more ‘enlightened’? I’d agree largely, but it’s not like it doesn’t exist. From the makes-you-wonder hijinks of Leeroy Jenkins to just plain name calling, it happens.

Though there was one thing that gave me hope. Pardon me while I tell a tale.

Playing Halo 2 I was on a team with three other English speakers, and four guys who seemingly spoke an Asian language. It was an eight-on-eight battle and we absolutely wiped the other team out, scoring 3-1 on Capture the Flag. Almost like it was planned the second the game started the four English speakers took the vehicles and went to get the other teams flag. We lost a guy, but we managed to come back with the flag. The second we jumped out to put the flag in the base and score, the non-English speakers were taking off with the vehicles to score on their own, and they did it without losing a guy. After that we lost the vehicles, but we all ran up the same side of the map, grabbed the enemy flag, and ran back. The enemy only took our flag once and got it half-way. (We met them on the way back the third time and killed them, leaving some guys to guard the flag, while others took their flag to our base.)

Sure it’s just one story. And it’s not a rosy picture of pleasantly working together interchangeably… But it’s a start. And it was great. The moral? Hopefully we’ll do more learning and playing, and less hating and assholing. (Yes, assholing.)