A Player's Right To Privacy
Letters to the editor
- Selina Kelley
Communicating on a Mud
Creators vs Players
- Anthony Peck
Denumerization of Muds
- Brad Smith
Around the World in 24 Hours
- Marcie Kligman
Use Your GDI!
- Aaron "Ajax" Berkowitz
Why use Artificial Intelligence?
- Tony Wilkinson
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Around the World in 24 Hours
by Marcie Kligman
I was doing some art homework the other day when I came to the question:
6) What does the term "fijnmaler" refer to in Dutch?
Hmmmm, I thought, I can't find this in any of the reading. Maybe someone
on the mud will know.
Map of population centers on the internet.
So I logged on to my favorite mud and chatted, "Does anyone speak Dutch?"
Immediately someone told me, "I do." I asked him, "What does fijnmaler
mean in Dutch?" "Finely ground," he told me. "Thanks," I replied, and
logged off, finishing my homework. Time taken to answer that question:
less than sixty seconds.
This wasn't the first time the amazing power of the Internet to create a
truly international community affected me. Over my two-year experience
with Mudding and newsgroups, I've talked with a South African about how
apartheid affected his childhood, an Israeli about to serve her mandatory
time in the military, a Scot about kilts, and with countless citizens of
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands,
Hong Kong, Israel, Sweden, and Americans from all over the United States.
I have long since stopped finding it strange to hold a four-way
conversation between an American, a Brit, an Australian, and a German.
The only requirement for these kinds of conversations is that all the
participants know at least a little of the same language. I've been
alternately amazed and amused by how foreigners speak English; sometimes a
truly great faux pas appears by an unknowing English amateur, and
sometimes native English speakers mangle their language far worse than the
foreigners. As an American, I've also been repeatedly baffled by the more
intricate nuances of British, Scottish, and Australian slang. Talking
about winter clothes, I once mentioned the word "muff" to a Scottish
friend, who immediately boggled at me. He delicately informed me that
this word was quite a rude term in Scotland. Although we laughed about
it, I'm sure that these "translation" problems happen all the time in any
mud community that draws players from different countries. Who knew that
the common language of English could present such hurdles?
Because my mud uses British spellings, I have been forced to grudgingly
write "gray" as "grey", "color" as "colour", "first floor" as "ground
floor" and "second floor" as "first floor", and have also been forced to
find my old metric-English conversion tables from elementary school. This
is an ego blow to an American. It's widely known (as a stereotype,
anyway) that Americans like to think of themselves as the standard by
which all others should be measured. Playing on a mud where Americans are
definitely the minority, I've learned that the rest of the world has some
rather nasty opinions of Americans. This is also an ego blow to an
American. Simply declaring myself as an American on a chat channel can
result in comments like "I'm so sorry", "I'll use shorter words then", and
"we'll try not to hold it against you". Experiences like these have
taught me that the American educational system is quite bereft of real
education about the international community, and from the media's
perspective, America can only take its place on the world stage if it's
allowed to be the star. It can be quite hard to be constantly cast as the
ugly American on muds with international communities and not take it
Mud communities bend the ideas of global time and space to the point of
meaninglessness. When people from all over the world can "gather" in one
"location" without leaving their chairs, space becomes irrelevant. The
world shrinks to the size of a computer monitor and real-life locations
become footnotes. Time becomes the real problem, because while measuring
it only in terms of the server's local time serves well for game purposes,
trying to arrange a real-life telephone call can become an exercise in
arithmetic. It can be hard enough trying to determine the time difference
between two cities with regard to Greenwich Mean Time, but add in
additional bonuses like the International Date Line and Daylight Savings
Time and this difference can fluctuate wildly. Once when trying to
determine the time difference between my location and Sydney, Australia so
I could make a phone call, I finally concluded, "They're eight hours
behind here only the next day, so really they're sixteen hours ahead,
except from April to November, when they're five hours behind only the
next day, which means nineteen hours ahead. So me calling at two o'clock
PM on a Friday reaches the other person six AM Saturday morning, so that's
no good..." I gave up at this point and wrote an e-mail.
Meeting people from all over the world on the mud has taught me more about
international relations and politics than every history and political
science class I've ever taken. Depending on the circumstances, boundaries
can disappear or cause real rifts between friends. The world can shrink
or expand, depending on how you view it. There are tremendous
possibilities in muds to encourage real learning about different cultures;
perhaps one day the "global community" politicians dream of can truly
become a reality.
November 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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