Category Archives: gaming

Transpacific Relations in FFXI

What follows is a rant that I almost posted in reply to a very long thread (like 250 posts over 3 months) on some FFXI forums. The thread was initiated by a high level Japanese player with the handle of Nakky in the hopes of answering some of the American kids’ questions, and of explaining why Japanese players think they are so rude. My post was meant as both a commentary and a summary of the thread’s important points, however, I have decided that since I have no real love for that particular forum, they don’t need to listen to me.


First, off I would like to confess that, yes, I am a ‘PS2 n00b’ and that I -still- don’t have my stupid subjob (at the time of writing, I am 1800xp till 18 and have had the items for over a week now).

Second, by way of establishing myself as ‘not just another PS2 newbie’ before I launch into my spiel, I have been studying Japanese for 8 years, am married, work as a unix sysadmin and programmer, have played online rpg’s since ’96, and have been writing them since ’98.

Third, I would like to thank Nakky for the attempt at opening peaceful negotiations between the warring factions.

That said, here is my (blunt and opinionated) take on Japanese/American relations in FFXI. (And yes, I am aware that there are Brits and Canadians and such playing as well, but you know what I mean)

– JE flag –

Don’t say you know Japanese if you don’t. It’s just plain deceitful. Knowing ‘hai‘, ‘kawaii‘, and ‘arigatou‘ does not sufficient fluency make, neither does watching a few hundred anime episodes. Even though I am halfway fluent in Japanese, I was still quite hesitant to switch the flag on because I am not completely confident in my grasp of the language.

I am sure the Japanese feel the same way. They are required to take several years of English starting in Jr High, but most never actually use it. How many people do you know who studied French of Spanish in school and would now be hard pressed to ask for directions to little boys’ room?

– Talking to Japanese Players –

If you don’t actually know Japanese, well, that’s what the auto-translator is for. Use it. Use it a lot. Oh, and be polite. You don’t know this person, so it is rude to come out of the blue and /tell them {you} & {me} = PT? plz lol.

Use the phrases that they tried to teach you as a kid but you have since forgotten, such as ‘Excuse me.’ Never launch right into a conversation with somebody, take the time to say Hello before asking them if they will trust you to keep them alive in combat.

Honestly, this goes for other English speaking players as well.

– Begging –

I can say that begging in online games has always been considered rude – at least, it has been since I can remember. It would never have occurred to me to ask for monetary favours from complete strangers or even from party members whom I did not have a long relationship with.

However, with the influx of these modern newfangled eye candy clients on top of games that are still basically muds, you get a hefty dose of 15-year-old morons subscribing.

Note that I have never ever been begged in Japanese 😛 Curious that, ne?

I play a white mage because 1) that’s what do, and 2) I enjoy helping people. My usual response to beggars is to /blacklist them and forget the begging ever happened. I tend to respond the same way to vulgarity over the shout line.

Today, I was called aside in North Gustaberg and almost blacklisted him because his initial tell was typical of the English speaking newbie, but I was bored so I listened – and all he wanted was directions to Bastok since he was coming from Windurst and hadn’t bought a map yet. I offered to escort him to town but he refused, saying that the directions I gave were sufficient.

Moral of story? Even Americans can get fed up with the ambient level of rudeness in their culture – but you should still try to listen if you are in a position to help. Of course, if the suspected beggar is talking in l33t and incomplete words, you are free to ignore them immediately 😉

– Romaji –

I would expect that any Japanese old enough to play the game can read romaji.

However, it’s not natural, they probably don’t use it in their daily lives unless they’re computer programmers or something. Thus, I believe that even thought my Japanese is passable, my inability to actually type the language (since the NA client won’t let me – even though I am using a Japanese keyboard) has led about 50% of all Japanese I have approached to immediately refuse my party requests with the classic {no english} sort of responses.

It is not fair to the Japanese who are communicating in their own language to people on the English client to have to use romaji. It is also kind of hard on the reader – there are two or three different systems of romaji… and it can be kind of jarring when you are a brand new student and suddenly somebody replies in a system that you are not used to reading.

In my perfect world – Japanese players would type in kana so I can read it on my TV (20 stroke kanji are impossible to decipher on that thing), and I would be able to respond in kind.

– Hordes of Shouting Newbies –

In most games, shout is not considered rude. It is often part of the game’s culture. However, FFXI’s software and culture were developed in Japan, and from day one of my involvement with the game, I noticed two things:

  1. nobody literate shouts very often
  2. the limited text window size makes life very difficult when people are being spammy

I have thus determined that while in town, it is perfectly safe to block the shout line since it’s never anything more than people repetitively advertising various goods and services (if you can call the little player-run casinos a service :P). In fact, you can probably just turn it off and forget that it exists entirely 😉

– Anime –

Yes, Japanese people are aware of anime. However, just because you are a drooling fanboy who is proud of this fancy foreign label ‘otaku‘, doesn’t mean that they are. Yes, Naruto airs weekly on a major network and the manga is syndicated in a name-brand mag… but your average Japanese is no more likely to be a ravening Naruto freak than you are to be a member of Britney Spears’ fanclub.

I watch the occasional anime, and have only -once- ever brought the subject up with a Japanese player. This was because her character was quite obviously named after an 80’s anime character 😉 Without this provocation, I would not have thought to breach the subject because, well… first off, it doesn’t matter, and second, it belittles their culture to distil it into what you have been fed by the media.

– Rampant Checking –

Oy. Talk about rude. There is a reason they tell you that someone is investigating you – it’s a minor invasion of your privacy. You should absolutely never /check people unless you have a good reason. I don’t know how some of these guys do it, consistantly checking me as they run past, before I even saw them. I’m convinced that they’re bots. That’s gotta be it 😉

Seriously though, it has got to be one of the more rude things you can do to a person (short of emote humping or whatever). If you have the habit, break it now, or I break you, eh? 🙂

[insert Taru WHM17 attempting miserably to look intimidating]

– Raise at H-8! –

I find it really fun when people shout for raises from places lower level than the Dunes of Bubu… Here’s a hint – nobody who can even cast the spell is hanging out there 😉

Again, it is just laziness on the part of low-levels. The overworld is too big for the level of interest, this is one of the few design flaws in the game.

– Griefers –

Some people’s favorite hobby is terrorizing others online. They take advantage of the relative annonymity of the internet to commit acts of lechery and rudeness that they would never dare performing in real life.

They’re sick people who need to be locked up. They have been a part of online gaming almost since the beginning – once it became possible to bump into people whom you did not already know in person. They will not go away, this is a constant problem that the maintainers of such games have to deal with. I once had to ban an entire ISP from connecting to my servers because of one griefer.

This phenomenon is not limited to Americans. I have encountered Sweedish griefers among others… There is not much you can do about it, really, just ignore them and try to enjoy the game. They will eventually tire of you and move on – and eventually they will tire of FFXI and go off to pick on people from some other MMO. (Hopefully with things like WoW and several other big-name games coming out… that eventually will be sooner than we think)

– Conclusion –

There were probably some topics of conversation in the thread that I did not address, for this I appologize. However, I guess they didn’t stick out as interesting/unique/appropriate enough for me to comment.

Yes, I can see why Nakky and the rest of the Japanese players are apt to be offended and tired of the endless stream of impolite foreigners who have invaded ‘their’ game. I agree on this point, people should play nice together, regardless of their means of communication.

However, I was also almost offended at some of the things she said – or more specifically, at the way she said them. At times, she came across as terribly impolite and condescending. It was not her fault, she is not completely familiar with Western customs and culture, but that said, I almost gave up on my (now 3-hours-long) mission to summarize the whole thread… just because of garbled communications.

If anything I said offended anyone, shrug. Just /blacklist me, I’ll return the favor if I have to.