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Breaking Language Barriers Through Gameplay

Updated: Feb 10, 2019



A couple weeks ago, I was playing in Kessex Fields near the big lake, somehow helping poor Matlal gather his truffles by killing every creature in sight. I was minding my own business when I suddenly received an invitation from a random player to join his party. Hmmm, this should be interesting, I thought to myself, let’s see what this fellow wants with me. Little did I know, I was in for far more than I bargained for. The stranger begins our conversation with,“Hola.” To which I jokingly reply, “Que tal hombre.” (That’s “What’s up man?” for those who don’t know Spanish.) Inspired by my apparent bilingual abilities, he continues our introduction with “Como estas?” along with a whole lot more that I couldn’t quite understand.

Shaken, but not stirred, I managed to make use of my Honors Spanish 2 skills from sophomore year of high school to hold a very basic conversation. I wanted to find the right moment to ask him what he was doing on an English-speaking server and why he decided to randomly reach out to me. Unfortunately, things ended up getting out of hand. The conversation became more complex and my limited vocabulary soon expended its use. I couldn’t understand a single sentence anymore and, even worse, couldn’t come up with the right vocabulary to ask my questions. Well, this just got awkward, I thought as I tried to figure out how to proceed. Players in the chat were calling for help to fight a spider queen boss, so I teleported there, enticing my new found friend to follow suit.

The battles that followed provided a much needed distraction from our awkward situation and ended up resulting in a pretty good time. Issuing simple commands in both English and Spanish is easy and apart from those, the game requires very little direct communication in order to enjoy it. We were able to continue our adventures together for well over an hour, slaying multiple bosses with our group, and eventually returning to where we began to finish the local heart quest. The simple core gameplay within Guild Wars 2 makes it very accessible and easy to enjoy in large groups. Fighting and cooperating with one another feels instinctual. Anybody in our large fighting group could’ve spoken any foreign language and nothing would’ve changed. The game would’ve remained just as enjoyable for everyone involved.

As my part-time job shift grew ever nearer, I decided to take a big risk. I won’t know unless I try, I thought as I typed both of my questions in English. I was immediately met with four question marks from my partner. I laughed, unsurprised, and replied, “lo siento, mi amigo. No importa.” (Sorry, my friend. Never mind.) We finished our heart quest before I bade my partner farewell. While I never learned why the fellow decided to party up with me, I definitely didn’t leave empty-handed. Rather than being completely restricted by our language barrier, I was able to thoroughly enjoy a gaming experience with a party member who spoke another language. You never know where that player you meet next might be from. If he or she ends up speaking a different language, there’s no need to turn tail and run. The game will still be easy to enjoy together, and you might just leave with a unique and satisfying experience.

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