Thursday, February 02, 2006
Keep politics out of WoW
The internet is awash with a story on sexual discrimination of homosexuals by Blizzard. But on closer inspection Blizzard's attitude of not allowing a guild to market itself as being gay and lesbian friendly is quite reasonable. Blizzard is not taking a position in the culture war, it is trying to keep that culture war out of a game into which it doesn't belong.
Frankly, to people outside the USA the American culture war between the moralist right and the liberal left has become a bit tiring, and an object of ridicule. The right is quick to see moral dangers in the most harmless things, for example teletubbies. And the political correct left is as quick as labeling anything they don't like "discrimination". Meanwhile the world shakes it head on how serious people could start to get into a fight about somebody wishing you "merry christmas".
Whatever flak they are getting for that, game companies running MMORPG are wise to keep that culture war out of virtual worlds. There being no sex at all in World of Warcraft, we don't need gay-friendly guilds, nor would we need a NRA-friendly guild, a Democrat-only guild, or a christian guild. These are all concepts that only have meaning in the outside world, while being meaningless in-game.
The only discrimination in a MMORPG which *does* make sense is one of language. The recent story of discrimination against non-english speakers in WoW might well be misrepresented. If a group refuses to take on a 5th player who doesn't speak their language, it is often for the practical reason of communication, not some sort of racism. When I was playing Final Fantasy XI, which has international servers, I was often not invited by some Japanese group, because they didn't speak English, and I didn't speak Japanese. That is totally normal. On the European servers there are lots of language-based guilds, of every European language from Italian to Swedish. Who can blame the Swedes for wanting to have a guild chat in their native language?
By the way, if somebody sends me a tell of "we r goin to SM, u wanna join?", I will discriminate against him and not accept his invitation, even if I would otherwise like to join a group for the Scarlet Monastery. Not for reasons of racism, the writer of the above sentence is most probably white, but for the simple reason that I don't like to group with immature idiots. There is a strong correlation between bad SMS-style English, and bad behavior in a group.