I met the user known as Ravenchill in a chat server on the online strategy game League of Legends. Although I had been soliciting help from other sources, Ravenchill was able and willing to aid me in my quest to study players from other cultures. Before the real questioning began, I inquired as to Ravenchill’s age, gender, and country of origin. He was more than happy to confirm that he was a 21-year old male living in Ceará, Brazil.
Considering the average age of MMO players is in the 30s, I was interested to see if Ravenchill was employed or in school, and what his opinion was on the average age range in Brazil for online gamers—though he would later say that he had no idea. After declining my offer to exchange our real first names, Ravenchill explained that he used to be an avid World of Warcraft player, with a bit of Lord of the Rings Online taking up his time currently. I offered to meet up with him in either of these games, and eventually was able to do so briefly in World of Warcraft. For some reason, my new friend was unable to stay long and had to log off, but later provided me with an in-game screenshot as well as a link to a World of Warcraft armory site with his character and gear stored in the database. Although Ravenchill is currently unemployed, he used to make websites for a living. His hobbies include kenjutsu—a sword-centric Japanese martial art—and watching anime, as well as playing video games. Ravenchill considers the fact that he can speak Portuguese, English, and Japanese fluently to be a talent because he never took any classes on his non-native languages and instead learned them through practice, the internet, watching anime, and social communication through online video games. To say that Ravenchill can speak the languages is a gross understatement of his talent; he has even done fan-subbing work on many different anime, translating from Japanese to English and even Portuguese. With so much linguistic knowledge under his belt, Ravenchill is an excellent example of a player capable of providing informed feedback on the current methods of communicating between regions in MMORPGs.
Living in Brazil, according to Ravenchill, seems to be fairly unexciting. He dismisses the country, saying that it “is not the most awesome place ever,” but it “is not horrible as well.” He further elaborates by explaining that living in a third-world country is not as bad as it may seem to someone from the United States. Perhaps this is because he is “not of the caste of people that actually suffers from being a third-world country.” He describes his family as being middle-class, neither standing too high, nor too low.
Despite offering games via digital distribution as well as through retail stores, Brazil’s main video game-related problem is the number of pirates who steal or download games illegally from online resources. Ravenchill argues that games are still very popular and socially accepted, but as a third world country, people do not have the money to afford games—leading to piracy. In fact, the Brazilian Association for the Development of Electronic Games has even “estimated in 2004 that no less than 94 percent of the country’s games market consisted of pirated merchandise.”
While Ravenchill enjoys competition, his primary motivation for playing MMORPGs is to practice his English. For this reason, he enjoys the social and player-oriented aspects of online games more so than those that relate to game design, such as exploring the game world and artistic design. If classified according to Richard Bartle’s four types of players who play MUDs—which are certainly more than comparable to MMOs—Ravenchill would fit perfectly in the category of “socializer,” although he could also be considered a “killer” when he feels like it.
Despite Ravenchill’s apparent indifference to fostering transnational play, he did provide some insight into whether he thinks several other concrete recommendations from the first Worldplay survey would be successful or not. When asked about the idea to include flags depicting a player’s nationality in the chat window, Ravenchill responded by saying that it “would not help,” but would “be nice [to know].” The problem with this idea is that it could result in “country-bashing” because “online people are THAT biased.” Moving on to the idea to include specific intercultural or transnational servers on which gamers from all over the globe could play, Ravenchill states that it would be a good idea that could assuage the language problem that many players experience, while also not necessarily abandoning those players who like intercultural communication. The implementation of an auto-translate function does not seem to resonate with Ravenchill, partly because he believes that the technology for such a system is ahead of our time, and also probably partly because he believes players should simply learn to speak the language if they want to be able to communicate. As a fansubber of anime, Ravenchill knows that there are just too many inconsistencies that come up with the use of auto-translators; there is no real way to accurately translate without knowing both languages. Despite not wanting an auto-translate feature in MMOs, Ravenchill still thinks that region-locking is a terrible idea because “competition needs to be broad” and he would not enjoy playing with “such a small niche of players.” Thus, one can see that Ravenchill very much enjoys social interactions and competition with players from other countries, but only if one party knows how to speak the language of the other.