I might get a lot of negative comments about this post (if someone takes the time to read this anyway), but I really have to get this out of my head. I have been thinking about it recently but I am pretty tired of that kind of abuse. It is not considered as offensive as the harassment Apple Cider Mage and other feminine MMO players (and women in general!) have been victim. It will probably never be talked about on the public scene as Martin Luther King did many years ago with racial discrimination. We will probably never see international conflicts caused by it as is currently the case with religion. And it won't make the news like high school bullying has been for the last few months. It is probably the opinion of a small group of people, but it is there and almost made me reconsider playing MMOs in my timezone.
First of all, I have never suffered from discrimination based on my sex, my race, my health or my religion. What is it then? It might be because I am a Canadian. But then again, we usually laugh, as everyone else, at the crude humor American TV shows like South Park (to only name one) uses to describe us. Most of the Americans know that Canada is not that bad and usually like their Canadian neighbors. I have met more than a few Americans who would love to come visit our country and see what it has to offer. There is however a small group that, in a certain way, even other Canadians love to hate. These people are working hard to keep what makes them almost unique in North America, their language.
I live in the province of Quebec. And as you probably know, most people living here speak French. Over the last thirty years, we have been strongly encouraged to learn English. After all, we are only a few millions surrounded by hundreds of millions of English speakers. The standard for someone my generation (25 to 35 years old), is to at least(!) speak and write in both languages almost flawlessly. Professionally speaking, it is for the best. It opens up a ton of doors that would have been closed to anyone exclusively speaking French. As an engineer, I often have to work with many people from
different countries so speaking more than one language is a huge gain. I was able to work for a year and a half in France, as well as a few months in the United States without any problem.
"Hey Gil, what the hell were you talking about earlier? You spoke of discrimination but I don't see any here!" I hear you say.
Actually, it isn't always pretty on the French side of the fence in North America. I do not want to stroll around the never-ending "Quebec VS the rest of Canada" thing, it would be too long to explain and I agree in part with both sides. Let's just keep it at being a French-speaking Canadian in a world of English-speakers.
I played WoW for many, many years and I have recently switched to SWToR. During those years, I have played on both European and American servers. I never had any negative comments when I wrote something that could sound weird to French people on European servers(we do have some weird expressions!). And you can't even imagine how many times I've heard on Ventrillo while playing in France : "Oh! Un
cousin Québécois!! Je kif trop ton accent!!" [translated : "Oh! A
cousin from Quebec! I really LOVE your accent!!"]. But being a French-Canadian on an American server is a totally different thing. Since it is my most recent experience, let's take a look at what happened to me in SWToR.
When the Early Access began, a lot of French-Canadians decided to create/join guilds on the same American server, Canderous Ordo. I did create a character on that server but, unsure if I wanted to join a big French-speaking guild or not, I decided to level my Sith in an smaller American guild. During the first days of Early Access, every guild was trying to recruit new members over any channel available. Among them, a guild composed exclusively of people speaking French was recruiting, but posting their message in French. I couldn't believe how many people just mocked them!
"Shut up french f**got!"
"Go back to the french servers"
"L2Speak English KTHXBYE"
And I've seen far worst than that... But what really pissed me off was shortly after a warzone, one member of the guild I was in decided to go all out about how Quebec is the worst part of Canada and how they should just leave the server and let the real people play.
Me : "Eh... [NameOfStupidGuyHere], why do you say that in General chat about Quebec?"
Stupid : "cause they suck"
Me : "And you know that because...?"
Stupid : "they cant speak english and they piss everyone off with that."
Me : "And what about that other guy who spoke Spanish a minute ago?"
Stupid : "dunno... missed him i guess. but its not the same"
Me : "Because he's not french-canadian right?"
Stupid : "lol yeah!"
Me : "So you don't think that they are good enough to play on this server?"
Stupid : "nope!"
At that moment, I decided to stop trying to reason with him. Unfortunately, he keeps on bashing on Quebec and my anger is rapidly taking control.
Me : "Mind if I try something?"
Stupid : "sure"
Since he is right besides me, I flag him for a duel, which he promptly accepts. He is two levels higher than me but I don't really care. In the end, I kicked his ass pretty badly. Not only once, but 3 times in a row.
Stupid : "damn youre good!"
Me : "Thx! But it's kinda weird to hear you say that! Based on what you said earlier, I should suck!"
Stupid : "huh?"
Me : In case you didn't know, I am French-Canadian. As you can see, I can speak English and I am not that bad at PVE and PVP (at least, better than you). So, I'll get down to your level of stupidity and say this: Learn to respect people, idiot!"
I walked to a mailbox and, during the 3 or 4 minutes it took me to write a message to the guild leader and open a ticket, this guy hasn't stopped bashing on me. I sent my ticket to the GMs, left the guild, logged off and started a brand new character on another server. I do not know what happened in the end and I have to admit that I don't really care. I do hope the guy got kicked out of the guild and/or of the game for a few days... That was back in December.
A few weeks ago, at the request of a friend who wanted to join a guild where he could finally speak French, I returned on Canderous Ordo, but on Republic's side. Things haven't quite changed... I still see people bash on Quebec. Not that many but still... I always stand for my province when people goes all out on us but I am slowly getting tired of it. I just feel like it will never change... Even if I am now member of a guild with more than 400 French-Canadian players, out of these players, maybe half of them do understand and speak English pretty well, but only a handful are able and willing to reply to some English speakers' hate. It does take a lot of courage to stand up to all the hate and negative comments. There are a few Americans and Canadians who also come to our defense, and I wholeheartedly thank them for that. But in the end, all this boils down to one word : discrimination.
We have seen all kinds of posts in many blogs recently about feminism. Racism, despite much improvement, is still unfortunately present almost everywhere. Even though we are far from the Crusades that took place during the 11th to the 13th centuries, international conflicts still erupt based on religion. But what about discrimination based on language? Why couldn't I use the language I want in public without being judged on it? I do not want to go play on European servers! Not because I hate them (I still have some very good friends in France), but I want to play with people sharing my own timezone! Have you ever tried to raid in a group with a 6-hours difference? It is nearly impossible, except on weekends. I live in North America, why shouldn't I have the right to play on an American server? But even if the MMO companies gives us the right to play on American servers, we still have to live underground, creating our own little guilds where we can freely speak in the language we want and stay the hell out of General chat!
"Hey Gil, I don't think it's that bad! You should still consider yourself lucky to live in a free country!"
Yes! I do think I am VERY lucky to live in Canada. But again, may I ask you this : Why do some of you make me feel like I can't FREELY choose where I want to play? And also, why can't I FREELY speak French in General chat without having some people curse at me? Don't we also have the right to look for people speaking our own language to do something in-game?
Yes, we are different. We speak a language that is not common in North America. However, I am proud of speaking French. Taking a closer look, we are not that different from our American
neighbors! Back in the 16th-18th centuries, we've been able to fend off most of the
attacks made against us by England and the United States, as you did (well... you haven't really attacked yourself but I think you get my point there). We protected
our way of life and freedom, as well as our language. We were able to keep what makes us
different from the rest of North America. On July 4th, you celebrate your freedom, waving your flag and
showing the world you are proud of living in the United States, and you are right to do so. We do
the exact same thing every June 24th, waving the "fleurdelysé", our flag, and showing the world that, even though we are surrounded by English, we are proud to still speak French!
The world we live in is made of various colors, may those be of skin,
personality, culture or ideas. We need to embrace those differences! We have to accept the fact that each of us is unique. So, next time you want to bash on people who are different, think about what makes YOU different from the rest and ask yourself : "What would my reaction be if I was the target of this bashing because of who I am?" You might be surprised by your own answer!