Transnational Player Profile
Country: Hong Kong
Hobby: playing tennis
Musical interest: guitar
Favorite TV show: How I met Your Mother
Self-introduction: I am an outgoing person who studies hotel management. Hospitality is one of my features. Usually, I will feast my guests in the weekend by making food myself. I pursue decent life and the feeling of being comfortable. My dream is to open a restaurant and serve customers good food.
Social and cultural context
Basically, Hong Kong is a very busy city in which you can find integrating culture combined from places all over the world such as the UK, China, the Philippines, etc. You can pretty much find everything you want in this small city. However, Hong Kong is a money city which quite emphasizes on materialism. Most of the people there care about brand and fashion. If you look indecent with no brand clothes on, minority of the people may look down on you and underrate your ability.
Political economy and cultural dimensions of the gaming landscape
Hong Kong is a good place for video games but Hong Kong people also like board games. You can find a lot of board-game-themed cafes in Hong Kong. Some people may go to the cybercafé for online games because they can chat with friends face-to-face when playing. This helps discussing which strategy they should use and it sounds more fun to be with your friends playing the game together. Indeed when we play online games, most of the times we just log onto Taiwan or other countries’ sever because we don’t really have an official Hong Kong sever. That’s why I will say cultural interaction is not anything special to us. Some of my friends even learn some Taiwan phonetic notations which sometimes represent emotions or some Taiwan urban saying.
I think most family at least got one computer which is affordable for the majority. You can buy games in game stores or sometimes we just download games from the internet though somehow it is illegal to do so. Some parents are very opposite to online games that they even want to control their children’s use of the computer. It is just a pastime as it is in other parts of the world; even my dad plays online games such as Lineage.
Motivations for gaming
Killing time is one of my motivations to start a new character in RO which was free at that time. The game mechanics are really amazing, especially the PVP system where you can chat and enhance your fighting skills by doing a duel with other players. Personally I think the main game mechanic for RO is to level up and kill monsters with your friends together. Although there is no point for you to keep killing monsters, it is fun. I really appreciate the team spirit in my guild and the monsters are cute looking by the way. Despite I like the PVP system, I will regard myself as an achiever. I will be so amazed every time I get a precious drop items from the boss I killed.
Perspectives on transnational play
I don’t think there is any specific tactic that you can push cultural interaction in the game. It just happens. After all you have all the obstacles like language barriers and region blocking. Surprisingly, I did have some positive encounters with players from other nations. In the IRO sever, I met several French people and chit chatted with them. We were killing some monsters in the same area and then we thought it would be more efficient to team up and start the massacre. My French is not so fluent but it was a funny experience. In order to talk with them, I even checked the unknown words via online French dictionary. All I can suggest is to abandon region blocking and arrange quests which require a lot of people to complete together. In this way, cultural interactions may increase.
However, I do think that cultural interaction is hard to achieve. As I said, I have played in the IRO sever. I enjoyed my time there but guild war was a headache for me. As the majority was foreign players, the guild war was always held at midnight or even 3a.m. in the morning. I remember staying up for the whole night just to defend the castle my guild got. Apart from the time difference, there are problems like different game mechanics may appear in different severs. When I first entered IRO, though the basic layout was the same as Taiwan one, there were subtle changes, for example, the card functions were different and you had more health than you did in Taiwan sever. I spent some time on adjusting all these.
Talking about what developers can do to foster transnational play; I have come up with the idea of guiding novices. In TLBB, some experienced players will become newbies’ teacher. If they team up together and fight monsters, they will get extra experience points. When the student reaches certain level, the teacher will be praised and get a large sum of experience points. More students you get more experience points you receive. I think this formula can also apply on facilitating cultural interaction. Companies can classify the nationalities of players. If you have friends which are from other countries, you get rewards. It is the same rule as the developers adopt in TLBB.
Perspectives on concrete recommendations for fostering transnational play
Although I think that transnational play cannot be forced, there is a trend that the companies try to make their games global. Among the options on the list, I personally think that voice-chat function, emote and in-game events will foster cultural interaction.
Voice-chat function is very useful for communication. Imagine when you are in the guild war and you want to give out several commands to different parties, it will be too slow for you to type and send it to different people. It is not surprising that one will voice-chat with his/her comrades while playing. Typing is too fussy and time-consuming when you want immediate response. Basically, most Hong Kong adult players in Hong Kong possess a certain English standard so it is not surprising that they can voice-chat with the foreign players in English. Despite most of the conversations are about collaboration and strategy use in the game, it will be a great leap forward to transnational play.
Sometimes it is so difficult to start a conversation which emote can definitely do better than words. Indeed I am quite impressed how cute emote icons are in RO. The crying one can always raise others’ sympathy towards you and the cunning one is my favorite. I always show it even though nothing happens. It is fun. I am sorry for going onto a lanngent. Usually, people will notice emote icons rather than words. Besides, emotions cannot be fully conveyed through words. To me, a cunning emote icon indicates friendliness and curiosity which will lead me to a deeper conversation. Moreover, one good thing of emote icons is that you don’t need to know other countries’ languages but you can still show your feeling.
The last method which will help is to organize more in-game events which are related to festivals. For instance, there was a Christmas event which gave out Christmas costumes and special equipments as presents in RO. These types of events can always attract a lot of participants. Companies can apply all these into game mechanics, for example, RO released several monsters which look like ice wolves, santa claus, etc.
In neopets.com, you got different kinds of snow balls as weapons. Foreign companies can easily apply Chinese New Year into game mechanics like you can give out red packets as bonus presents to the players. In RO, the company even changed the layout and interface element to imitate cherry blossom in Japan. You can also find all these features in TLBB. I remembered getting a rabbit as my mount when it was Chinese New Year.
All these make players more interested in other countries’ culture.
I took this screen shot in the prison as I have just killed some bot users. You will be sent to prison if you kill someone lower level than you. See the axe above my head? You got it only when you killed 10 players. You got a knife when you killed 5 players. With either of it you will be chased to be hunt down by every player in the server because by killing you, the killer will be rewarded. It is like a punishment to those who bully other players. You can see my avatar surrounded by gout of purple light which represents the armor I am wearing. The ape beside me is my pet which helps me attack both players and monsters. Sometimes it is really hesitant that whether I should kill those bot players because being sent to the prison indicates less time to train and play.
Off the record observations
The participant shared some of his personal opinion towards online games. I asked him how he viewed the phenomenon of golden farmers. He said that golden farmers might not necessarily be Chinese but he kind of hated those mainlanders using bot to mass killed monsters in order to get the drop items and then sell them in the real world. If he encounters any of them who he is able to kill, he will be more than willing to do so.
Another thing he would like to comment is the problem of flooded “money players” (those who paid a lot to equip their characters as to bully others). He thinks those players are not really enjoying the game and it is not a sound idea to invest so much on your players just to dominate the game. “Sometimes their attitude is so unpleasant. It seems that they think they should be above us because they pay.” He complained.
Although there are a lot of ways to approach online games, he will recommend your first step is to go to a forum. “When I want to play some games to kill time, I always go to forum to have a look. You can read the comments there and sometimes people may even upload an introduction video. More comments you read more game mechanics you know. And then, you can choose which one to start.”
 As we don’t have Hong Kong official sever, we usually log onto Taiwan sever. Taiwan language is different from Chinese. There are some examples of Taiwan jargons in the game. “機車” means you are bullying someone or you are such a villain. “遜咖” means you are weak and incompetent.
 Lineage is an online game released in 1998 by the South Korean computer game developer NCsoft. It becomes very popular in Korea and is fit into Chinese, English and Japanese Version.
 PVP means players versus players. Some games allow players to decline the duel proposed by provokers. (Strangers and Friends: Collaborative Play in World of Warcraft : 4.2.4 Duels and Trades Author : Bonnie Nardi and Justin Harris)
 Achievers regard points-gathering and rising in levels as their main goal, and all is ultimately subservient to this. Exploration is necessary only to find new sources of treasure, or improved ways of wringing points from it. Socializing is a relaxing method of discovering what other players know about the business of accumulating points, that their knowledge can be applied to the task of gaining riches. Killing is only necessary to eliminate rivals or people who get in the way, or to gain vast amounts of points (if points are awarded for killing other players). (Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who suit muds Author: Richard Bartle)
 International Ragnarok Sever
Neopets is a website that allows you to keep pets. You can buy food, equipments and accessories for your pets there. You can get neocash through different activities.
 Bot is a software that allows players to attack monsters or collect materials without manual control. Usually bot users will kill the monsters in a certain area for a long time in order to get the drop items.
 Players who acquire in-game currency only to sell them in the market to get money. Usually they will use bot to keep killing certain kinds of monsters or doing the same task for many times.