Final Fantasy XI, a model of North American Intolerance

I have been playing Final Fantasy XI since release date, browsing various forums on news sites, and game specific ones, and I was really dumbfounded by what I was reading.

People are griping about the fact that they have to play on JAPANESE servers with JAPANESE players. I have seen many downright racist comments. After my initial schock I sat down a began to think how this whole scenario is a microcosm of the intolerance that we see in our daily lives in North America. Racial steriotypes, profiling, etc , etc.

I was playing the game tonight in a small pickup party, and a Japanese player joined us (he was was a previous acquaintance of one of the group members). He communicated to us with the in game translation software, and a few times it came off as one of those poorly translated signs at but it worked. We all had a blast.

He was lot higher level than us ,and he gave us each this “meatkabob” that raised our strength. Upon compsumtion there was a big red flash (like a spell effect), and I said to the party “Mmmmm… Spicey”, and he laughed. He got it… gee what a suprise.

I look at the ethnic diversity apparent in Final Fantasy XI as a definate feature, not a hinderance , and say to all the narrow minded folks out there take the opportunity to broaded your horizons. After all we are all gamers at heart.

My father spend over 30 years in the miliitary, and I had the pleasure of living all around the word, so maybe my outlook is just differnet. But the crap I am seeing in game and on message boards really makes me embarrased that people can be so blatantly intolerant. Not exactly the ambassadors to a civilized society.

Wait…you are telling me that there is no North American server?

I don’t know, I would be really suprised if FF online became a huge success. It seems to be like every other MMORPG, and the audience the rest of the FF series focused on was people who like anime (its true, compare it to DnD or VTM, it isn’t an RPG. You just play pregenerated characters with a linear storyline)

I am not trying to sound racist or anything, its just I live in Toronto and Japan is far, far, away.

Yes, all the game servers are in Japan, there are lots of english people playing though, and the lag is absolutely imperceptable. You would think that you are playing a single player game. Absolutely the best netcode (or whatever you want to call it) in any MMORPG that I have played.

I don’t know, I would be really suprised if FF online became a huge success.

I don’t know, but I know serveral of my freinds who love the FF series on consoles have started playing it and they love it. They never considered playing a MMORGP before at all. Also those who are playing who have played everything out there (MMORPG wise) seem to enjoy it as well from what I have been reading.

I think your premise that people can be xenophobic, racist or just afraid of experiencing the “other” is generally correct. However, it is not just a trait of North Americans or citizens of the U.S. if you want to be more specific. I spent some time in Japan as a naval officer. I like and admire the Japanese and their culture. They are a strong ally as well and good allies are hard to find nowadays. But like all people they can be just as xenophobic as anyone else. Does the word gaijing sound familiar. Rude behavior as well as kind behavior just happens to be a part of the human condition.

Believe me, the xenophobic behavior occurs on both ends. It was even more hilarious with Ragnarok Online. You had Korean and Japanese servers, and they both got so annoyed with the Americans that the RO guys made an English server. Then a German TV show talked about RO and all three language servers got flooded with German users and all three servers started a major campaign to oust the Germans.

Vic, you do have a good point. From my experience though, I think North Americans are in general a little more xenophobic. I attended an American High School in Brunsumm in the Netherlands (back in the 80’s), and in general I found that most teenagers my age and their families tended to do the things that they did back in the US and Canada. I.E. Rent movies, play basketball, go shopping at the PX and didn’t take the opportunity to embrace the culture and people that were all around them.

My friends and I would often go on weekend trips, bar hop, and mingle with the Dutch and German people our age, and I found that they were very interested in learning about our countries and lifestyles, as we were learning about there’s.

But that’s just my experience, and fortunatley I have fond memories of it. I know there were groups of Eurpoeans that absoltuely hated the NATO presence in Europe, and took every opportunity to cause problems.

Oh lord… :shock:

This is kind of sad… but at the same time, realize you’re dealing with a group of pre-pubescent “tweens,” for the most part, whose defining moment each and every day is how many ways they can work the word “gay” into an insult.

I would understand frustruation with the language barrier, but the players themselves? No way. They’re human beings too. Of course, we have to assume they’re all in their own secret messageboards hammering us American morons for our invasion of their game… :P

It was nothing compared to the whole Thai ordeal. Ragnarok didn’t have any sort of translation software going for it. It was a legitimate problem, since the English servers ended up with more non-english speaking people than English speakers. Lag, screwed economy, severe world overpopulation, etc. But, as far as i could tell, there were just as many American nimrods there. English players then ended up flooding the Japanese server only to act like jackasses in their comparitively utopian playing environment. It was a trainwreck. People were xenophobic basically because they could get away with being so. People all over the world were essentially pissed because they couldn’t tell whatever target foreigner to fuck off in a way that they could understand and get angry about. For example, i was once notified by a Thai player that my mother was dead and that my father was “bad”. I think something got lost in the translation.

I’m guessing that a lot of these people come from that environment, since Ragnarok drew a lot of anime/FF fans with its style. With translation software, there doesn’t seem to be a real problem with the language barrier, since these people usually aren’t prone to quoting Macbeth in MMORPGs. It’ll probably blow over eventually. Then you’ll just have the usual MMORPG bitching.

Americans being the most xenophobic though? I kinda doubt it. Many other countries have had far more time to practice it than we have. I think they can hold their own.

In my time playing the first PSO, when it was released in America on the Dreamcast, I had an absolute blast playing with japanese gamers. We had a lot of fun with the translation software and our limited knowledge of each others language, laughing at the goofy mistakes, and enjoying the chance to share a fun gaming experience with people on the other side of the planet. It was really a lot of fun. I’m hoping for something similar in FFXI.

Vic, you do have a good point. From my experience though, I think North Americans are in general a little more xenophobic. I attended an American High School in Brunsumm in the Netherlands (back in the 80’s), and in general I found that most teenagers my age and their families tended to do the things that they did back in the US and Canada. I.E. Rent movies, play basketball, go shopping at the PX and didn’t take the opportunity to embrace the culture and people that were all around them.

You’re talking about apples & oranges here. For one thing, not going out and doing the Netherlands thing the way other people of your age that are native to the country is far, far away from real xenophobia. If you were truly xenophobic, you wouldn’t even leave your house.

As for us being more xenophobic, please now - I’ve seen plenty of that all over. We’re no worse than anyone else. Lineage, Ragnarok, and PSO were all the same - ethnic groups of Asians that had a huge tendency to hate each other, much less westerners.

This is not to say it’s always like that - but it’s not exactly under the covers either.

— Alan


I live in Toronto, I don’t speak Japanese, I have an ATI 2400 XP, 9700 Pro, 256 ram and a cable modem and the game plays SWEET (all settings maxed).

No lag, no problem. I am very content with the game so far. (Just started playing it, mind you!)

First off, I’m upset that you live in OC. I grew up there and miss it almost every day :cry:

Funny (well, sad) story from when I went to Japan about 10 years ago. My father and I are walking around in Hiroshima in the middle of the afternoon, slowly making out way to the museum. We stop at a cross walk and this guy that had to be about 80+ stops between the two of us, smiles, and says “Fuck you”. Smiles, and walks away. It was strange, we were just totally frozen. To this day we half joke that “Fuck you” is Japanese for “Welcome to Hiroshima, American.” Overall the place is really cool and everyone was extremely nice to our faces (especially the rescue crew that saved us from Mt Fuji)

However, my cousin is an English & Japanese teacher and he said it was really bad at times. He lived there for about 8 years teaching english to Japanese business men, he married a Japanese women he met in the states and they moved to Japan and had a couple of kids. Their personal stories and run-ins aside, things got so bad that they had to move back to the states because life had become a living hell for their 5 year old daughters. What a nightmare. According to him Japanese born blacks face outright ridicule from all over. Something to do with most of them being the children of japanese women and american soldiers after WW2.

Anyway, ignorance is everywhere. It’s just that white people aren’t as used to seeing it first hand.

Well, unless your French. :wink:

Its funny you should post this…


In any case, its always interesting to here perspectives on this. I think some of the conceptions about racism and discrimination are misguided and some of them are right on. Like what GMicek just posted, it isn’t just white girls that experience that type of childhood in Japan, that is common for everyone, for different reasons. I hate generalizations, but TRADITIONALLY it is said that parents spoil children when they are really young and make them quite dependent and shy, then when they go to school they let them bullied and tormented without intervention to show them how hard or unfair society can be and teach them to grow up. The school is expected to take part to some extent. People will find any reason, really. The easiest on hand or cruelest, the quickest reaction is to learn to be mean back and so its hard to break cycle.

In black people’s case…that’s really tough. But there are definitely some glaring problems with people’s attitudes over here and some rather overt and nasty racism that most certainly isn’t as obvious or out in the open usually as concerned as what I found in America. However, many people assume Japanese are two-faced, but I think this is a huge, fundamental difference in our societies that is hard to reconcile and explain. So I never try. :)

People say Japan is extremely homogenized and that is true, 99% of people in Japan are Japanese…in a way…a lot of us are also partially Korean or Chinese, but…yeah. Basically in all things, there isn’t much diversity. I think this is both a strong point and negative. Its strong because I don’t believe all societies should be like America and allow anyone to come in and expect the live there reasonably. People say you have to accept certain Japanese traits in order to live in Japan, and no one is willing to change. Well, you know, I found some similar things depending on where I went in America, where there was a definite culture, and if not followed, you got pushed to the side in much the same way.

In the case of FFXI, I know many Japanese players may say things that seem racist, but I assure a great deal of normal Japanese people aren’t all that different, prejudice-wise. Without a great deal of diversity, you SIMPLY DON’T LEARN TO WATCH WHAT YOU SAY. That’s it, really. The motivations behind certain comments are a great deal of time entirely innocent and there is often no way for us to realize it. We don’t have to live with different races from different countries and different expectations and adjust our sensitivity levels that way. However, there is a great deal of diversity within Japanese culture, so its not totally stratified.

For instance, Osamu Tezuka once drew a whole bunch of African-looking tribesmen in a manga with huge lips and what looked like blackface. Without the context of blackface and the demeaning way some Africans are depicted, it was entirely innocent without knowledge of that history, and in addition, it happened in manga, where EVERY RACE, including Japanese get mangled into proportions and exaggeration for effect. Tezuka himself was a huge humanist who really was against racism of any kind, but it looks like he had a thing against blacks.

I remember thinking once in a classroom that everybody who asked so many questions was holding up the teacher and it was disrespectful and selfish, because they should just leave him to what he wants to say and puzzle it out themselves afterward. Instead they get want to know answered and the instructor can’t focus on what he or she wants to tell the entire class. That was my background, but all it takes somer easonable discussion with a knowledgeable and intelligent person to find out how others value questions to such a thing as professor as debate aiming for the truth and something that makes things clearer and challenges our perceptions on things. But this is not to say there aren’t Japanese teachers who won’t ask questions of their students or who won’t encourage them.

It really makes me angry though when people make these generalizations about Japanese, xenophobia and racism, because its almost exactly the same type of thing as those who characterize Americans as stupid. Its much more complex than that and there is no easy, “No they are angels, yes they are demons.” Same for the US.

I will say that I do notice that Americans seem to try out more unpredictable things and have an excellent value for trying to protect freedom and advance the state of things in the game, while Japanese tend to cheat a lot less and will be a lot friendlier to strangers. Then again, Americans can be a bit hard to get to like simple things and Japanese sometimes will not budge from a standard line. It always depends though.

I’m hoping Square finds success with FFXI, because I would like to see MMORPGs develop like regular RPGs have, with two, huge divergent styles that focus on different things and excel in different areas. Its not impossible, as the first Japanese-style RPG tried to mimic popular Western styles with its own flair, and then diverged and developed into something entirely different over time. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it very much, though I keep trying to. :P

I would have liked to see an FF online game that allowed you to raise chocobos and go on races, competing around the world, or join Gardens, learn for a couple of years (not real years) and then go on CIA-like missions, or only do player killing when you join a realm’s army and fight for the realm, become a theif and be able to steal from shops, stockpiles, auction houses and the like, daring not to be caught to get the greatest treasures, or become a full-time blitzball with sponsorship, leagues, championships and what-have-you. That’s what I would have liked it to be, even if it may be unrealistic, but I feel that its when people have attempted dangerous and/or seemingly unfeasible feats before that true classics have arrived and defined new horizons to plumb, that’s the type of experience I really would have been interested in playing. As it is, no thank you.


Yeah, but in japan your drivers liscense tracks back for up to 5 generations wether or not you were “from” there or you were naturalized…

I love the diversity - was in a group this weekend with two americans, a canadian, two indonesians, and a japanese player. The indonesians could type varying levels of english and the japanese player was using the translator, but we all had a great time and were even pulling off more advanced stuff like skill chains, despite any communication barriers.

I also love that there is a market for all of the junk I bring back to town. Those same people that bitch about japanese players all over certainly don’t bitch when those established players buy thousands of gil of their loot at the auction house. If there were new north american servers, everyone’s equipment would be much worse because there would be no market for all of that loot.

On a side note - We finally have our linkshell set up in game! If you see me, or any other QT3ers with a powder blue orb next to their name, hit them up for a linkshell pearl. Lets all get set up on the linkshell so that we can communicate better and organize groups.

Question for Kitsune - I can’t figure out how to get pearl sacks. I can make a lot of pearls from the linkshell, but it would be nice to hand out sacks to a few others. Can you help?

My friends and I would often go on weekend trips, bar hop, and mingle with the Dutch and German people our age, and I found that they were very interested in learning about our countries and lifestyles, as we were learning about there’s.

Yes, but that’s not quite representative. Had they not been interested in what other countries have to offer, they wouldn’t have been there (as in ‘travelled to NA’) in the first place. I can guarantee you that ignorance and intolerance over here in Germany aren’t a lot more or less common than in other countries.

There’s no question about that, and it’s frustrating and sad. PSO was a tragic example in this problem. Prior to launching in America, it was a groovy, cooperative game, without much in the way of cheating problems. As soon as the title was launched here, people began working on ways to cheat and exploit the system - creating items, creating money - even discovering ways to lock up someone’s system and delete their character information. I usually ended up just playing on the japanese servers and tolerating the lag in order to avoid the problem, or playing in locked games with friends only. It’s really sad to have to do that, in what is meant to be a social game.

I’ve personally always found the global nature of MMOs to be one of its greatest strengths. When playing EQ, I played on a server with a very high proportion of Japanese players. I printed out a page of standard English->Japanese phrases (from one of the better EQ mapmakers, who was herself Japanese) and managed to get by adequately enough. Mainly the folks I grouped with were so astonished that an American was actually making an effort to be understood.

The racism isn’t one-way. I’ve seen the phrase “NO HELP TO NA PLAYERS” more than once in FF11 already, and Lineage was notorious for being American-unfriendly on the Korean servers (unfriendly in this case meaning “killing you on sight repeatedly”). I suspect there’s more than enough cause given, sadly enough.

I’ve always liked that too. I don’t necessarily WANT everyone to speak the same language - it can be fun having genuinely mixed groups to play with, and really helps push the exploratory feel when you bump into, say, a French or German speaker in the middle of a dungeon instead of a kid discussing last night’s Xena.