How a popular online game tackles the issue of communication among communities who speak a different language.

I've been playing Final Fantasy 14 (FFXIV) for a couple of years now. It's a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game where you can play with others over the internet. Due to ping limitations (how fast data is transferred to a server and back, which affects reaction times), I play on the Japanese server instead of the American or European servers. This means that I would, in one way or another, have to interact with non-English speaking players to tackle group-based fights and content.

While this does not necessarily mean having in-depth conversations, being able to communicate in some form helps a bunch especially when you're new to the content in the game. FFXIV has a few features that help to bridge this communication gap between speakers of different languages:

01 Emotes

They're not emojis, but they are similar in that it's a form of non-verbal communication that can express feelings and even provide direction.

Some examples are "beckon", "bow", and "hug", which are performed by the player's character and also appears in the chat in each player’s chosen language. A bow can replace a "Thank you" and players would follow if a teammate beckons to them. Players also use emotes simply for the fun of it, with actions such as "dance" and "play dead".

02 Auto-translate

Unlike a real-time translation service like Google Translate, the auto-translate feature in FFXIV allows for stock phrases covering a huge library of game-related terms and common phrases, which can be a bit inflexible. In its defense, it was developed over seven years ago and hasn't been updated to take advantage of real-time translation technology. Partially because existing real-time translation services would have difficulty translating game-specific terminology properly.

Auto-translate is accessed via the [Tab] key

Auto-translate is accessed via the [Tab] key

Sometimes auto-translate falls short because it provides an overly literal translation which fails to take into account the cultural nuances surrounding particular phrases. Take this interaction for example:

English player bidding goodbye versus its meaning when translated to Japanese "Take care!" → "Watch out!"

Sometimes it's exactly what you need: