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.

131 responses to “Discrimination in World of Warcraft

  1. This is more a response to Rage3, we bombed the Japanese… not the chinese, we’ve never gone to war or anything with them in the past. As for the farmers… it’s retarded really it is, they rob people of hard earned stuff and make the money system trashed on most servers. Alot of server are becoming the “California” of warcraft because of how high and rediculously much things are going for.

  2. I play the game myself and there just isn’t a “fine-line” WoW players won’t cross. This game is starting to turn into an AIM chatroom. It’s more about what nerd can put what nerd down more now. What’s really funny is people pick on these so called “Chineese Gold Farmers” but buy thier gold. It’s more or less young kids around 13 or so, or losers who are over the age of 20 and have never been laid that make retard comments about the farming inside the game. I see it this way, there’s a way to expose money in anything and if you’re smart enough to do it then, to each his own. I wouldn’t worry much about what these “gamers” have to say. Most have no life outside the game and are on from the moment they wake up til the monent they go to sleep. What’s so offensive about what a loser like that thinks?

  3. Here’s my 2 cents worth…
    Firstly, I think most online games actually reduce or eliminate racism, by virtue of the fact that it’s very difficult to tell what race/sex another player is. Heck, half the time you can’t tell whether the toon you’re questing with is played by a male or female player.

    I think the argument that people with poor English spelling are singled out, and treated badly as a minority in terms of race, is also rubbish. There are a large number of people that I see posting in the general channels that can’t spell very well, but it’s in no way indicative of whether they are from an English speaking country or not. Some people simply can’t spell very well.

    I don’t think that Blizzard should have to walk on eggshells when persuing people that break their terms of service. People who spend their time gathering all of the game resources in a given area, for cash profit, and restricting genuine players from questing, or saving up those extra few gold to buy their mount, need to be dealt with.

    I have to say that Blizzard is doing a good job with dealing with these issues, and of all the online games I’ve tried recently, WoW is by far the best game.

    I’ve met a lot of really cool people in the game, and made some good friendships. And I haven’t the faintest clue what race most of my friends in the game are, and don’t really care.

  4. The problem with your article is that you took 2 other articles, neither apparently written by anyone who has done any real research into the issues involved and parroted them without doing your own research. This is just sloppy reporting. The issue with gold farming has to do with the damage it is causing to the in game economy by increasing the in game prices of just about everything and the huge amounts of chat spam the farmers use on some servers to sell their wares. One is damaging to game balance and the other is just damn annoying.

    Asking for some level of English has far more to do with determining the maturity level of the player. l33t is usually used by immature players, who will whine/taunt other players constantly, and generally ruin the game experience for the rest of the team. Players who cannot use some level of communication with a team are will more often than not get the entire team wiped

    Next time, at least try to do a little research rather than posting this poor excuse for journalism.

  5. Sorry, I havent read the subsequent posts on this thread, this is just in response to the start of the thread. It is very easy to point a finger at someone for being racist, and this poster has done this. There is a thing that most humans possess which is called common sense. In my experience in WOW there are good people and bad people. Language, does not matter to me; I even run with some people who are foreign, and cannot speak correct english in vent. I don’t discriminate against foreigners, rather I discriminate against the immoral players who hide behind the web. Some players turn a G into an N a bit too often, resulting in many other sensible, honest players becoming extremely upset. When a player ninjas an item, he or she usually teleports back home, logs off, and lays low for a little while. There is no reasoning with this person, because he does not want a personal relationship or feeling come in the way of his unorthodox behavior. There is no way to reason with the ninja, because he has no face. He has no voice, in the sense that he does not want to talk to you. Too many times have i been duped out of a BOE because a player waited until the end to roll N and then hearthed. I am sick of this faceless, voiceless menace, and so are most others. It is the fact that we cant communicate with the ninja that scares us. These greedy people are the cause of most problems in WOW, since social interaction is extremely important to most players. The guildless friendless are the ones with nothing to lose, but everything to gain when they turn their ninjad items into USD (or yen). This racism is not racism at all, but is concious care to put together a safe and conducive group of people before heading out to an instance. I myself will ask a person to talk, if I notice that he has not said anything during a raid. This is one of the only current methods for discerning ninjas, much like racial profiling in the United States anti-terrorist tacticts. Next time you see someone ask a person with a name like Xiaolixiang to speak an english sentence, realize that it is more of a preventative measure, a background check to make sure that the group does not get screwed over.

  6. Just dont have them as Main looters :)…and make sure they dont roll on everything….

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  8. I think you got it all wrong. I would tend to believe there are people discriminating against people who spel lik a thre yr old. y not? coz ppl r dum. if u playd a gam wit ppl typ’n lik this all the time, u would h8 it 2.

  9. actually the chinese farmers are teaching me something , i can now speak broken english, ive been in tyrs hand the past couple of weeks , and i feel i am now one of them…xi ao wol ?…yes yes that means sell items for 900 gold ……u know how long its taken me to get 200 gold…anyway yes its a game , actually wasnt mario bro’s kinda racist as well with that dang “green’ luigi

  10. And to add another thing , i think they feel threatend by my prescence , usually if im ther more than 10 minutes or so , they do that awsome grab 30 mobs and poof kinda deal…well im a warrior and poofing just doesnt happen with me…..this tends to aggravate me 🙂

  11. Chinese Gold farmers, Chinks, better get something straight. “You better act right before you get smacked right” – Will Smith. As the United States proved on two seperate occasions, if you fuck with the USA, you chinks are going to die(remember Hiroshima, NIGGAsaki). To come into an English Speaking server and to harvest, and illegally (violating terms of conditions / code of conduct) distribute non-possessed virtual currency is pretty pathetic. There is a funny article somewhere on the net about some chink who died due to not eating because she was to busy playing world of warcraft. What a joke! Without the stupid you can’t be smart. So as long as you chinks continue to be stupid you continue to make everyone else look smart.

  12. get back to work, i will burn your feet!

  13. Why the heck would I want to play a socially-oriented game with someone who I can’t converse with? Not only do I insist on having a common language, but a little role playing wouldn’t hurt either.

  14. ‘Discrimination’ against chinese gold farmers is hardly racism – really it’s nationalism. Pegging this as racism is a uniquely american POV which really points the racism finger back at those who are criticizing. What if it were Ukranian gold farmers? Likely would elicit the same outrage but no one could play the racism card.

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  16. Your telling us to play with people that dont understand us? Listen to what you are saying. This is an online game, where communication is everything. We cant have people that dont understand english playing on english servers. We want to have fun playing, not try to figure out what these people are saying. They can join servers for their languages, i dont see a problem. Were not being racist, when it comes down to it, we dont want to wipe, get ninjad, and we just want to have fun playing.

  17. I play a Night Elf Druid for many reasons. I am also 50 years of age and find that today’s society is way to anal. Now when a white man gets in an arguement with a black man, the white man is racist. It’s that simple. People forget that it’s okay to disagree with someone that’s not the same skin color. As far as WOW and Chinese farmers are concerned – they have and are destroying the servers economies. As far as asking that people wishing to join a guild with a command of the English language is not only not racist, but it’s each guilds right to do what they want and make whatever rules they want. I saw the other day someone complaining about the character molds. Did you know that there are no young Night Elves? Is that racist? Then there’s the complaints on sexism within the game. I laughed so hard I thought I’d lose an organ from laughing that hard.
    It’s a game. No one is asking any one to play. You play at your own risk. Blizzard has made it clear that the contents are not for youngsters. Children shouldn’t be playing this game anyways. They belong outside with real people learning how to deal with society and crack pots like the ones that cry racist every chance they get.

    There’s nothing stopping anyone from deleting WOW from their hard drives.

  18. i have run in the the langueg barrier in wow. i have been an english specing person all my
    life. my problim has been becuse of dislexia. im slow to read and por at wrighting. this
    does make it dificalt to interact in the MMORPG of the world but thats becus your
    represented by how well you spell and fast you tiyp. becuse of this thair are some things
    i cant do inside of wow becus when i do people start yelling at me for the spelling.
    the only people i run in to partisipating in “gold farming” well tiyping english speking
    individuals. Tollerence dose need to be exersies for pore spelling and gramer. this
    is racely motivated.

  19. This is one of the more ignorant articles I have read in a while. How can I believe you feel so strongly about something you obviously have no clue about? Any credibility or persuasion your arguement could have had is lost by your obvious ignorance of the subject matter. If you want to spark a racism debate, fine. If you want to critique World of Warcraft, that’s fine too. You’re doing a half assed job at both which is laughable. “You know I think greenhouse gasses are very bad and hurting the earth, and I heard in WoW they have continents like we do on earth, and obviously they support the destruction of the envrioment which is just bad. So people in WoW need to act right and love the earth!” If anything all you’ve done is start a little flame war and strengthen the other side of your arguement by your uninformed comments. Congratulations, we’re all a little dumber now.

    Cao ni zu zong shi ba da.

  20. ”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”

    Cool. That proves ur a complete fucked up kid who does not know what he’s talking about. Ur really fucked up in the brain u trisexual animal fucker retard. Chinese and Black people pawns your little sorry ass. America will no longer be the most powerful nation. All those sry little american dickheads won’t do anything but masturbate.

  21. I’ve been playing WOW for 3 months now, and I’m a spanish guy playing at Aggamagan Realm. On this realm eight of every ten players is spanish, and most of them do not speak english enough for a chat (altough they can read the quests if they do it closely and so they can play). That makes that realm a ‘80% Spanish in fact realm’, but of course that is not official, and that is a problem for some english speakers who cannot communicate with 60% of the players (some of the Spanish speakers do also speak English enough).

    That have created some english-speakers guilds, and some spanish-speakers guilds, but I have not seen ever a Spaniards Guild or a non-Spaniards Guild. So it is based on the language and the capability of comprenhension, and not in racism. I am myself member of a english-speaking guild, and I’ m a Spaniard.

    I think that was a mistake made by Blizzard: they only created realms for the languages where a translation exists. Why? What happens to italians, bulgarians, Czechs, Portuguese, Spaniards, Swedish, Finnish, etc. who can read English enough to play the game but cannot write/read English so fast?

    Spelling and grammar problems? Surely, I surely commit mistakes, and I’ve been reading non spanish people in my party speaking awful english. But you just need to be patient when someone is trying to make themselves understood.

  22. Grats to the original poster for brining up an important issue. I’ve read these posts and the thing I don’t see addressed is that everyone is blaming the gold farmers, but no one is blaming the buyers. Gold farming wouldn’t exist if no one would buy the stuff, and so the buyers are half the problem. And since most buyers are American, and most Americans are white I don’t ever see any posts about a “goddamn Honky Buyer driving up prices in the AH!”. I’ve been playing WOW since the beginning and I know lots of kids play this game. If you hate gold farmers, fine, but don’t use “Chinese Farmer” as we all know that has a negative and racist connotation. To those of you who say “it’s just a game”, these words really do affect kids and the ignorant.

    And to those who of you cursing these Chinese Farmers, don’t hate the player, hate the game. If you could play video games all day long and then have some dude in some other country pay you enough to feed your whole family for a year, you’d be doing the same thing. It’s a fucking awesome business plan. Capitalist Americans SHOULD KNOW THIS. So the next time you blame a Chinese farmer, blame the goddamn honky buyer who’s too lazy to run UBRS and throws down real money to buy the Pristine Hide of the Beast.

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  24. I am the Chinese, the WOW game. I did not know why the WOW game inventor why doesn\’t let a economic potentiality endlessly catches up with the country (China) the person play such game, lets us gain to more foreign exchange. When your that purple is attaching the evil spirit the weapon and my gate PVP time, really did not know US has killed my gate is any type feeling. No, that is the discrimination. They had not thought my gate, how hasn\’t been able to appear that many game gold coin, how returns lets the gold coin depreciate, has how can let by the least prices play the family to have the best equipment. Perhaps I said too superficial, I the understanding am perhaps insufficient to WOW. But calculated does not have the Chinese to play this game. The world also is returns by such form appears. Only if the world is average. A Chinese says own idea.

  25. Oh. My. God.

    Elitism in a MMORPG? Shocking. Absolutely shocking.

  26. It makes no sense for a non English speaking person to play wow on an English speaking server. Communication in WOW is key for game play and everyone who plays the game knows this. Why would you play here if you cant speak English? There is no good reason.

    I have never seen anyone kicked out of a group for being Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, or what not. This is against Blizzards policy, and as in real life, if you are the subject of discrimination or harassment you can go through the proper channels to fight it. I have seen them kicked for either 1) Not listening 2) Ninjaing 3) lack of understanding what is being said. Discrimination is everywhere so why not in WOW. Don’t act all surprised when you find it here, for you would be naive to think else wise. I consider myself lucky to have not encountered it yet but I know its there and know my rights and the avenues to take if and when I see it.

    Now, let’s look at some facts about gold farmers:

    From WOWWIKKI.com

    According to estimates, around 100,000 people in China are employed as gold farmers, as of December 2005. [2] This represents about 0.4% of all online gamers in China. Chinese gold farmers typically work twelve hour shifts, and sometimes up to eighteen hour shifts. Wages depend heavily on location and the size of the gold farming company. One gold farming operation in Chongqing in central China with 23 gold farmers was reported to pay its employees the equivalent of about 120 U.S. dollars per month, while workers at a larger gold farm in Fuzhou earn the equivalent of about 250 U.S. dollars per month. The rising prevalence of gold farming has led to the creation of gold farm brokerages.

    Because of reports indicating many gold farmers are located in China they are sometimes referred to as \

  27. “China farmers”.

    Exploitation of the working class and imposing slave wages are whats at the forfront of this issue. Not some 8 year old kid kicking an asian Farmer from a group.So group with a Farmer and aid in SLAVERY. Help him develop his english so he can become a more efficint SLAVE. With this type of glodal slave busniess based in China and backed by over 100,000 people, when does Discrimination turn to truth? When can generalization turn to fact? Not all Asians are farmers…But over 100,000 of them are! Take what you like from that.

  28. The whole start of this was to do with the way people in mmog games play with each other but was considered to be racism and that people blame gold farmers for there own fault.

    The fact of the matter is that most of these games are played by greedy selfish
    pathetic children who\\\’s sole purpose it to get what they want and then to show off to everyone else how cool they are because they have such a huge ego and very little conception of what its like in real life at the mature end of the scale, best thing to do is to make a mmog game that is only for people 18+ who most fo the time are mature, at least to the extent it is well worth doing so people like us can play with like minded people instead of stupid greedy children who spoil the game for the more
    mature players. You other choice is to keep playing these games and simply only create groups that have people who communicate in the most commonest used language of english and not weaste time on others that very few speak compaired to the world population. I do this to elimate those that dont communicate and to where possible get rid of children, im happy that voice comms is coming out in wow, this way my groups will only be those that can speak on it so i can remove stupid children and enjoy the game properly with mature players. Also so i can make sure fair rules are followed like when gems drop in instances they go to the jewelcrafter first and formost not just a greed item, there are far 2 many greedy cunts in that game already its few and far between that you find a fair minded player.

  29. Just one question, are you really this retarded or just don\’t play many games? It is you oversensitive fags that actually create racism. The fact that we have to devote time to discussing why saying nigger is wrong actually creates the racism you so desire to fight. A few other interesting things:

  30. I back this,

    The fact that we have to devote time to discussing why saying nigger is wrong actually creates the racism you so desire to fight

    get over yourselves

    The fact is, a nigger isn\’t a race. It\’s a degenerate subculture in the USA of unproductive african americans. Just like a redneck isn\’t a race, a nigger isn\’t a race, it\’s just scum.

    Nothing wrong with black people, but if they play into the cliche of niggerdom, they suck.
    Nothing wrong with country folk, but if they are ignorant rednecks, they suck.
    Nothing wrong with latinos, but if they hit on 12 year old girls, they suck.

    All races have your cliches, don\’t play into them, and you won\’t be called a derogatory term.

    Stupid politically correct fucks, stop being naive.

  31. @tommy what you say is irrelevant because no word is anything but a symbol. The fact is that when you say those words a large number of minds conjure only images of one certain race that corrseponds to them. This is why people take offense. And you are stupid and naive if you dont understand that.

    If any one would like to share thier stories and experiecnes or non experiences of race in wow you can post them here. http://aniggaincyberspace.com

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