2 February, 2010
I was recently talking with someone and the topic of cultural differences in gaming came up. Games made in one culture sometimes doesn’t seem to translate very well into other cultures. The example familiar to most MMO players is how Asian free-to-play MMOs don’t seem to translate over to the U.S. very well for a lot of reasons.
I’m going to be asking more questions than giving answers, but let’s look a bit at how cultural issues come into play in games.
In this post, I’m going to focus on comparisons to the U.S. market. This isn’t some form of cultural imperialism, it’s more about the fact that I live and design games in the U.S. and am therefore most familiar with this market.
This topic relates a bit to the Worldplay Project I mentioned at the end of last year. Sometimes there’s a bit of a culture clash when you play on other servers. As I mentioned in that post, it was interesting to see how the German fans of Meridian 59 were different than the U.S. fans. I didn’t play a lot on the German server since my German wasn’t very good, but attending the get-togethers in Germany and chatting with German administrators provided a lot of insight to the differences.
Board games are also an interesting example to consider. European board games have a different design aesthetic, even compared to modern American board games. German board games in particular spurred a lot of renewed interest in board games in the U.S. in some traditional gamer demographics. For many of these players, traditional American board games hold little interest. Board gaming is much bigger in the European markets; most board game designers get published first in Europe then have successful games “ported” to the U.S. market.
So, let’s hear your experiences: what are the differences between servers in different countries? What cultural issues did you run into? What generalities can you make about European (or German, etc.) players vs. U.S. players? I’m particularly interested to hear from some of the European players like We Fly Spitfires or Spinks who have played on U.S. servers, or U.S. players who have played on European servers. What cultural differences have you observed? Any experiences are welcomed, though.