Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The new Europe

For somebody born in the west, Europe used to end at the iron curtain. Behind that lay a somewhat scary region with which one simply didn't have any contact, and knew very little about, except from history books. That also was true for "European servers", on which everybody spoke English. But playing World of Tanks on European servers today shows how much this has changed.

At the start of each battle there is a forced 30 second break to give people with slower connections or computers time to load the map and connect. And that is a good time to be polite, wish the other players "good luck and have fun" or just say "hello". Only on the European servers more often than not what you read is something like "siema", which is "hello" in Polish. Or the Hungarian, Slovakian, or other east European language version of this.

One problem with that is that not everybody understands English. So if somebody writes in chat a proposed strategy, not only does he have the problem that not everybody might agree; he also can't be sure everybody actually understood what the said. Thus strategy discussions are usually done by pinging on the mini-map, which is quite limited as form of communication.

So in the end this great multi-cultural experience divides itself into clans based on language. National border recreate themselves on the internet, because most people prefer to hang out with others who speak their language. Not so much xenophobia than xenophonia, but the end result is pretty much the same. The new Europe is closer together, but there is still a lot that separates us.

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