Thursday, July 24, 2008

Accents, Seasons, and Random RP Annoyances

Short post today*, 'cause things are busy at work. I'll back to my usual rambling tomorrow. Maybe.

Yesterday's post got me reminiscing about RP, and I remembered some of the things that bugged me about RPing in WoW back in the day.


We've all seen dwarves around in the real world, haven't we? So it's common knowledge they all have a Scottish accent... OK, you got me, I never met a real dwarf. But the game does reinforce this stigma, liberally sprinkling the dwarf areas with "Loch"s and "Dun"s, so unless something in your back-story explains why you're different, you're going to have to contend with a lot of "Why don't you have an accent?" attitude. But, you know, that's fine actually - it adds to the immersion by making the world feel more "real", so that's not what bother me about accents.

"So what bothers you about accents?", I hear you shouting. Well, WoW has the oft-ignored feature of letting you change the language your character speaks. Between us, how many times have you actually used it, instead of rambling on in Common/Orcish? Not too often, I'll bet. But in my old guild we used it quite a bit - it was an all-Dwarf guild, and the members were encouraged to use Dwarven whenever possible, and here's what annoys me (finally...) - Why would a Dwarf have a noticeable accent while speaking his/her native language? It's all nice and well when you speak Common, but Dwarven?

Now, the general consensus seems to be that Common and Dwarven should sound differently, and that when dwarves talk, it'll sound like Scottish - so the accent should stay. I don't quite agree with that. I mean, Common (or Orcish, if you're horde) is not English - we use English because, well, we have to agree on some language in order to communicate (and, being WoW an MMO, communication is quite important), what turns it into Common is the [Common] tag at the beginning of the line. Accents are a good way of stressing the fact that Common is not (usually) a dwarf's native language, and therefore when they speak it it sounds "different", but there's no such problem in Dwarven.

Let's compare it to what happens out in the real world**. Japanese people, having grown up and lived in Japan their whole lives, speak pretty good Japanese. When I listen to someone speaking Japanese, I don't think to myself "He's speaking with a Japanese accent". If it even occurs to me, I might think it just sounds natural. But when that same person speaks English you will, more often than not, notice the heavy Japanese accent. At the same time, when I speak Japanese it doesn't sound natural, so I'm the one with the accent.

Hopefully, you get the picture by now, since I'm running out of things to say about it. *grin* Just, you know, think about it. Or don't... I'm not going to make you.

Warrior of the 50th season.

Most of the RP-guides and guidelines consider levels "a bad thing" - You don't actually "level up" in real-life, so the concept is treated is OOC most of the time. But sometimes, you just have to relate to it somehow, so people came up with the "brilliant" idea of using seasons. What? What does that even mean? It obviously doesn't mean actual seasons/time, since last I checked time was something that happened at the same speed for everyone. The concept of "seasons" just fails miserably at relating to experience.

So what do we do? We need to talk about experience, but "seasons" doesn't quite cut it. Well, again, let's look at real-life. In most cases, your "experience" is not something that can be quantified, and as a result very subjective. What level is your drawing skill? There's no answer to that. You can say you're good at it, or bad at it, and you could be wrong***. But not everything is like that... Martial arts, for example, have "belts" and what are belts if not a different name for levels? If all goes according to plan, I'll be taking the Level 3 Japanese Language Proficiency Test this year. Yes, you read that correctly, it says "Level" (granted, in this case the lower the level the better, so you'll usually want to level down instead of up, but still...).

There's no reason something like that shouldn't be good enough for WoW - you already have to go to the trainer every 2 levels to learn new skills. May as well take it a little further and pretend he gave you a new belt. Or "kyu". Or even level. I mean, the name doesn't really matter here. They are all, at the end of the day, used for the same purpose - measure someone's experience/capabilities at something.

Do I have any delusion that it'll change some day? No, not really. But then, since I mostly play solo (time differences suck) I hardly get to do any RP anyway, so it's not such a big deal.

* At least, it was supposed to be a short post. It turns out it doesn't take much to get me rambling for hours about inconsequential stuff...

** Japan is a little surreal, but let's say it's part of the real world for the sake of this discussion.

*** "Wrong", adj.: Holding an opinion that is different from mine.


Cynra said...

Languages are fun. A while back I wrote a post on my site about how I use different patterns of speaking for each of my girls, allowing me some kind of mental hook that allowed me to slip into character a bit easier.

Regarding accents, some of my characters have them while others do not. My perky human priestess butchers Common on a daily basis. My draenei warrior speaks pidgin Common and my kal'dorei huntress has an odd way of speaking that exclude contractions at all. However, you can bet that when they speak their native languages they're fluently speaking without an accent.

Another thing that irks me is when people who roleplay characters with an accent write notes. I honestly doubt that a character actually writes her accent. My perky priestess avoids that issue entirely, however, by being absolutely illiterate (though if you ask her she can sign things with a giant letter "C" that stands for her name!").

Tal said...

Hmmm, interesting. I must admit I hadn't considered the issue of writing notes...
I think I'll have to go with "undecided" on this matter for now - while I agree that writing a note wouldn't necessarily have an "accent", unless you are fluent with the language you will most likely have mistakes that are influenced by your native one. Again, taking as an example Japanese people speaking/writing English, they will often replace 'l's with 'r's and vice-versa since Japanese doesn't have 2 separate consonants for them - it has one that is sort of halfway between them. And then there are all the times you just translate something from your native tongue literally (creating "awkward" sentences like "The weather was nice yesterday, isn't it?"). These are things that can often be encountered both in writing *and* speaking, but then other "mistakes" (and an accent is a mistake - it's wrong pronunciation) are exclusive to just one way of communicating.