[MUD-Dev] Cultural impact on Muds (was: Star Wars Galaxies)

Jacob Cord jacobc at chiefarchitect.com
Fri Jan 31 09:57:42 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Tue, 2003-01-28 at 00:36, Eric Hu wrote:

> Frankly, I was shocked when I read this "...USA currently doesn't
> to seem actually need to know that much about the cultures it
> exports to" by the creative director of the most expectant
> MMOG. Now, I cound understand why Japan videogames could seep into
> USA but Xbox failed into Japan...

When I read that, I nodded my head in agreement.  Americans on the
whole tend to know less about other countries than non-Americans.
Hollywood churns out movies without thinking first about "How will
this movie relate to a Chinese/Japanese/Korean audience?" because
those cultures have an interest in American culture and will see
them whether they are the target market or not.

I don't think game designers spend lots of time thinking how they
will bring in a large (insert country here) market because they will
be popular because they are "American" games.  And yes, this is
pretty haughty of us.

I daresay that non-American cultures are more interested in American
culture than Americans are interested in non-American cultures.  I
would like to see statistics of bilingual people in America
vs. other countries, I'd wager on the whole we Americans are pretty
far behind.

> Most oriental MUD adms could read ,write and speak english, it
> helps us understand what the western cultures are (at least, USA
> and UK). In the other hand, most MUD adms of western cannot. Of
> course, it caused by too many languages in Asia. Take me for
> example, English is the 3rd language, Japanese fourth. It is all
> right that you guys didn't understand the culture of Korea games,
> but just ignore the differences and importances of another
> culture? I don't think it is a wise man will do.

I think the biggest problem is understanding the cultural
differences.  It's difficult for someone to really understand a
culture they are not familiar with, and have never been exposed to.
Research will get you some information, both books and "market
research", but to get a finger on the pulse of a culture, nothing
short of first-hand experience is required.  The question is time
and resources, and perhaps raw numbers. Do we spend significant time
learning about a culture that may be only 5% of our projected
audience, or put those resources in to other areas? If developers
invest lots of time understanding, say, the Korean game market,
sure, they may turn out a game that will be interesting to the
average Korean gamer, but what percentage overall will the Korean
gamer be in the full population of the game?

Don't misunderstand me, I am all for introducing more culture into
the game market.  I personally have lived 3 years in Taiwan and
China, and Mandarin in my 2nd language.  I have experienced Taiwan
big city traffic from a behind-the-wheel standpoint, and it may make
a good game on its own.  It would have to be a twitch FPS game,
though. :)

> their days and nights there. Take another example, the 3rd large
> MMORPG in Taiwan-- background something like the movie Crouch
> tiger, Hidden dragon -- has more than 4.5 millions players in
> China, Taiwan, and Korea.

This sounds like something I may be interested in, what is it?

> Is the culture difference not important? I dont think
> so. Especially when you want to earn more money.

You're right, the cultural difference is important, but I think the
question is more like: Will the game attract a significantly larger
crowd due to investing more time in understand the cultural
differences and striving to create a game interesting to all
parties, or will putting our best efforts into a general
audience-targeted game be interesting to enough of those markets to
not justify the extra gain?

Did that make sense?


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