I could read many posts about if it is good or bad to have japanese and american players playing on the same servers, about the difficulties in communication between the “two sides”, about some morons that some people met while playing FFXI, about the “JP ONLY” comments... and many different reactions from the community. They are all interesting things to read, I think.
I couldn't find though, a thread about the opposite perspective: how NA players are seen from outside USA and in particular from Japan (on the other side, there seem to be not too many discussions about NA-EU players). So I'd like to begin this thread inviting all of the players from outside USA to write their opinions too!
Premise 1: I have been living in Japan for many years, I am married with a japanese girl and played FFXI with japanese software with many different parties and linkshells, but I am not japanese (I am italian). So sorry for the mistakes in english.
Premise 2: I love the differences between cultures. The key for a succesful international communication is not to say that we are all the same, but to recognize the differences and say that they are a good thing.
Premise 3: Morons are a plague that exist in any country and throughout all the human history. I believe it would be a good thing to leave outside of the discussion some episodes we all had with stupid people.
There are many things I'd like to say, I'll try with a list in no particular order. To explain how a NA player is seen from Japan, I need to introduce you some JP cultural aspects:
JP and NA players are not the same. Some wrote that only the language is different but if we could read japanese then we'll discover that we are all identical. It's false.
You can find people online who speaks japanese who is not actually japanese (me, for example). So don't be 100% sure about the nationality of the people you play with just because you see a certain language.
I don't know if JP parties or NA parties are better players. I can tell you that LS work very efficently with JP players though. I mean that they are very punctual and meet very regularly.
I enjoy very much playing both with NA and JP players, almost always. No problem to communicate. But I can say that in many occasions with mixed parties some players on both sides didn't seem satisfied. Of course this is only a general thing!
I know maaany JP players that enjoy a lot playing with westerns, but a big percentage doesn't.
I believe that many JP players avoid to play with WESTERNS (not only NA players) for one or more of the following reasons:
a) many fear to be rejected
b) many are not used to communicate with non japanese people
c) many fear how they will be “judged” by westerns
d) many can understand english but that's not enough: we, westerns, use a different approach to communicate.
So, for all of those who wrote that the comment “JP only” is a form of racism, I want you to know that things are different. Usually NA people are not avoided for racism. In Japanese culture, when inside a group things don't go well and someone is isolated or rejected, things get difficult. To avoid troubles, one just avoids people and situations he is not used to deal with.
Again: language is not the only problem. There are other factors, for example NA players are typically more aggressive when communicate (we EU players too). Bad words, straight approach, say what you think without constrictions... This are things obvious for westerns but not for (the majority of) japanese people.
Western people are often openly hostile and don't hide it. I find it a bad habit, but that's my personal point of view. When JP players are hostiles to you, they just cut any relationship with you and don't discuss about it. You never see people fighting here, they hate it.
So, entering the core of the topic, I believe that NA players are seen from JP players as a community difficult to deal with. That doesn't mean to judge badly NA players, just to acknowledge that it's not so obvious to build up relations between different cultures and ways of doing.
Many seem surprised and offended because JP players avoid NA parties, but did you ever think about the fact that, for example, no JP player would ever shout hostile things to another one while playing? I am western, and I don't care about this things, but from Japan this is perceived as a “avoid at any costs” situation. (generally speaking of course)
Another thing. Many times I see comments by NA players saying “don't worry, he is JP and doesn't understand english”. Well, you would be surprised to know that almost always they understand what we write in english very well. It's the western player who cannot usually understand how they comment what you write...! Believe me, I saw it many times. This kind of comment lowers esponentially the opinion that any non english speaker (included me) has about who writes it.
Since I wrote different things that could seem “critics” to the NA approach, I'd like to add a good point about NA players: you can become friends easily than with a JP player. This doesn't happen only in MMO, but in everyday life too. Also very difficult topic that I cannot talk about here: the concept of “friendship” in Japan is different than from Europe and America I think.
The best relationships are always when the player is open minded and has made some studies about the culture he is confronting with. If the player shows respect and openness to the other players and cultures, things get very good and to play together is one of the best experiences you can have.
Hmmmm reading again this post I just wrote, I find it a little confusing. Sorry, I have many things I want to say but it's difficult to put them in words. The thing that I would ultimately point out is that when we play online, we all have a tendency to interpret wrongly what is happening on the “other side”. When we do this kind of error, we usually put our cultural fears into shape and feel offended by our own prejudice of ourselfs. This happens for every player in the world.
See you in september on some japanese server! ^^