7 January, 2007
Sometime it’s easy for us Americans to get bogged down in our own little world and forget that there are other countries outside our borders besides Canada and Mexico. I’ve written before about cultural confusion when you’re in a country that is very alien to your way of life.
So, in the interest of making these challenges a bit more active, here’s your homework: Describe a cultural difference and how it relates to games. My own bit after the break.
One thing that most people find surprising is that there is a huge board game culture in Germany. In fact, most modern board games are printed in Germany and if they do well then they come to the U.S. The game pieces are printed in the abstract, so that all you have to do is reprint the instructions for most games. One of the reasons why I’ve started taking German classes at the local community college is so that I can appreciate some of the board games better. One interesting game is Bohnanza, which has been brought to the U.S. but keeps German names for the cards.
Lately I’ve been spending some time playing Silkroad Online (requires IE for whatever reason). This is one of the “free” MMORPGs where you can play for free, but can buy items and upgrades to your character with offline currency. Since it is a free game, there are a wide variety of people playing it. Without having to worry about a central billing system, you get a lot of people able to play your game. In the game, I’ve seen people speaking English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian. I’ve also seen people speaking Polish and Hungarian. All in a Korean game. :) Note that most Asian countries have local servers, whereas the rest of the world plays on the “International” servers. But, the game also has some interesting quirks (such as misspellings and unusual grammar mistakes) common for a game made by a group with English not being their primary language. One of my favorite quirks is that you turn in some special event items to a character named Su-OK, even though there is a useless NPC named “Su-Ok” also in town. But, it is interesting to see how different cultures interact in the game like they do.
So, what’s your cultural observation? If you don’t have one, go find one. The world, especially the online world, is becoming more multi-national. No more hiding in your comfortable American ignorance. Or European arrogance if you can’t think of anything cultural to share with us hicks over the pond. ;)