Tearing Down Language Barriers in MMO Games
Google Translate API for Games
While playing an online shooter, I noticed the server had language translation in the chat. Now, I knew this wasn't a feature built into the game by the developers, so I did some searching and I discovered that it was simply a server-side plugin, utilising the Google Translate API. Any server can run it, letting gamers from around the world understand one another's smack talk just a little better. The translations aren't 100% perfect, and I think someone invited me to marry his sister's donkey, but the technology is always improving!
While searching for current MMORPGs that have language translation, I found an interesting forum thread. The original poster noted that in an early Everquest server, language barriers created tension between players from different regions. Another forum user responded:
Seriously, just go learn another language if you want to play with people who don't speak English. Servers are usually seperated by region anyway, so you really only need to know the languages spoken in your particular region.
Developers seem to feel the same way, so barriers are erected where communities should be built instead. One notable example of an MMORPG bridging the gap is Final Fantasy XI, which has an auto-translating function for their Japanese and English speaking players. Players can also select a large list of common phrases from a menu and send it to the chat.
Most Gamers Speak English?
Iron Realms games are populated with gamers from many different countries, but English is the widely accepted "official" language in the game, even by bilingual players. In fact, there are no official game rules against speaking other languages, as help files such as Language Rules only mention obscene, offensive and out-of-character language. It is entirely possible, however, that languages other than English are considered inconsistent with the roleplay universe. In Achaea, for example, a player speaks "Achaean" as their main language - and a help file for speaking "Middle (Archaic) Achaean" exists, which teaches players how to properly speak in Ye Olde English.
Of course, languages other than English can be found throughout Achaea; role play events where a ritual calls for chanting in Latin, for example. Some Houses, such as the Ashura and Mojushai, even have member ranks in East Asian languages. Some organizations within the game have chosen to invent new languages, inspired by real-life regional dialects, which is becoming the preferred method.
What's your opinion? Should game developers take the steps to close the gaps between gamers of different nationalities, and will the region-specific server continue to prove successful? Share your comments below!
Author: Alex Carlson
Editor: Tony Celentano