Connecting With Japanese World of Warcraft Players

You’re an MMO player with a passion for Japanese. You’ve successfully converted World of Warcraft into a Japanese learning environment.  Now you want to meet and talk with Japanese players who are as excited about the game as you are. What’s your next step?

Connecting with Japanese World of Warcraft Players

Finding Japanese Players

Despite language and technical barriers, World of Warcraft is home to a thriving Japanese community. A couple of servers in particular host large, active Japanese Language Guilds. The easiest way to find them is by visiting guildpower.net, a Japanese guild directory of sorts maintained by volunteers. Here you’ll find a list of registered JP guilds and a treasure trove of info such as:

  • Name and Realm
  • Estimated weekly active players (“Pop”)
  • Raid Progression
  • And much more

As of my writing this, Proudmoore(PVE) and Blackrock(PVP) are by far the most active servers for Japanese players, so that’s probably your best bet, especially if the time difference is an issue for you (more on that later).

Joining a Japanese Guild (Recommended Level: 25+)

Knowing where to find Japanese players is one thing, but getting to know them is another. If you can, I strongly recommend joining a Japanese language guild. Not only will this allow you to get involved in activities and make friends more easily, but it also gives you the chance to learn by simply watching guild chat (and jumping in when you feel up to it!).

The first thing you’ll want to do is research. The aforementioned guildpower.net lists most of the guilds’ official websites – just click on the guild name in the list, then on the following page look next to 「ギルドHP」to find it. From there, you can read up on their rules, recruiting policies, and so forth. You can also find out how to apply for membership, and which officers to contact in-game about recruitment.

As an example, your guild application might look something like this-

初めまして。

[Character Name]と申します。レベル[#]の[Character Class]です。2年前から日本語の勉強をしている[Country you are from]人です。日本人プレイヤーと一緒に楽しくゲームをしたいですので入隊を希望します。

よろしくお願いします!

What to Expect

I was very nervous when I reached out to a guild the first time, but it ended up being a good experience. They were super friendly and were happy to answer any questions I had. I even got stuck at one point for lack of vocabulary, and they quickly got ahold of an English-speaking officer to help.

Once in, I was greeted warmly by a bunch of people and got asked all kinds of questions. What part of America are you from? How did you learn Japanese? How long have you been playing? And so on. I struggled to keep up, but I had a great time and went to bed entirely too late.

The days and weeks since have been pretty normal. We talk about all the same game-related things you would in other guilds, except with Japanese mostly replacing English. Sometimes the conversation goes a little over my head, but I learn something new every time.

Depending on the guild, you may also find that there are other Japanese learners to talk to, or even foreigners living in Japan who don’t speak Japanese, but are happy to talk about their experiences there.

What to Watch Out For

Two quick warnings before you dive in.

1. The difference between your local time and JST can be a problem. If you’re in the US, Japan’s prime playtime is your prime sleeptime. You probably won’t have much overlap with your new friends’ play schedules on weekdays. I still manage to have fun despite this, on weekends especially, but I’ve also accepted that I may never be able to attend a raid at 10pm JST.

2. Keep in mind that while you’re there to have fun learning, most everyone else is there just to have fun. Try to not treat your new friends like free language tutors. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask questions about Japanese (they’re great conversation-starters!) – Just be a little bit careful not to overdo it.

Language Tips

Politeness

In my experience, guild chat occurs mostly in 丁寧語 (polite form – です・ます etc). This isn’t an ironclad rule, but it’s a good place to start until you feel comfortable straying. In the case of party chat and whispers, it varies a lot with how well the participants know each other. Use your best judgment and don’t be afraid to err on the side of polite if you’re unsure.

英単語 (English Words)

Japanese players lean on English terms to talk about game-related things much more than you might expect. This is a huge advantage when trying to communicate, so don’t be afraid to leverage it. Some types of things that 英単語 is used for:

  • Character information, such as stats, class, etc
    • Ex: Pri, Dru, DK, ハンター; Agi, Str, Int
  • Items and Professions
    • Ex: BS, Engi, Alch; Arcanite Reaper, Gloves, (item) Drop
  • Character and Place Names
    • Ex: Thrall, Maladaar, リーロイ; Skyreach, Highmaul
  • Activities
    • Ex: PVP, BG, Raid, フォロワーミッション

You’ll see these appearing interchangeably in original English as well as Katakana forms, but either way it’s the most natural way to talk about the game in many cases.

Net Slang

A few common things whose meaning may not be immediately obvious:

  • おは、ちわ、ばわ、おつ、etc
    • The Japanese are masters of abbreviation. Even when speaking somewhat politely online, it’s common for things like 挨拶(あいさつ) to take on more convenient forms. Handy when you want to greet someone while you’re in the middle of a fight. Of course, different people do it to different degrees – you’ll get a feel for it after a while.
    • The above are just some examples of shorthand for おはよう, こんにちは, こんばんは, and おつかれさま
  • w
    • Shorthand for “LOL” derived from 笑い(warai).
    • You can also add more w’s to show greater amusement. Ex: ww is roughly equivalent to “ROFL”.
  • 落ちます
    • “I’m logging off.” (as opposed to the literal meaning of falling)
    • Commonly preceded by いったん in the sense of “I’m logging off for a bit”.
    • Bonus: The transitive form, 落とす, is sometimes used by healers to talk about failing to keep a party or raid member alive. Ex: Matt落とした!(we “dropped” Matt!)

Give it a try!

If you decide to take the plunge and join a Japanese guild, I hope this information helps you out. It’s a big challenge, but also a great opportunity to learn and make friends. Good luck!



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Matt V

Matt V

Video game designer and lover of JRPGs.

Comments

Connecting With Japanese World of Warcraft Players — 4 Comments

  1. Heyy again!
    I was waiting for your new post.

    I’m very excited to try this, but I better wait a few months until entering in a Japanese Guild. Since I’ve been studying for only 4 months, I feel like I won’t understand most of the things they’re going to say. But until there, I will be practicing a lot, to be prepared to do so in a month or two.
    I know it might be a huge experience to practice Japanese!

    What level would you say is theoretically good enough to enter in a Japanese Guild? I believe I’m currently between level 8 and 10, and I feel like I have a huge gap in vocabulary.

    Thank you again for sharing your experience!

    • Thanks for your interest! =)

      This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I’d estimate my level somewhere in the low 30’s right now and it’s quite challenging for me, but part of that is just pushing my limits to try to have more complex discussions. I think you could still have a good experience even at a lower level.

      I’d say that more than vocabulary, the big thing you want to have going into this is a solid handle on grammar. Even with a dictionary to help with unknown words, if you can’t parse the grammar you’re really going to struggle.

      For me, I don’t think I began to truly feel comfortable with grammar until I’d wrestled with J-J for a while. Getting used to the process of explaining things in Japanese builds vital connections that make complex sentences feel way more intuitive. So if I had to give a recommendation, I’d say the point where you start to “get used to” J-J is a great starting point for being able to actively participate in a JP language guild. That probably falls somewhere in the level 20-25 range.

      I will add, though, that many guilds will accept you regardless of your language ability. There’s a guy in my guild who’s still early in his studies, and for now all he does is read chat and try to build up his understanding. I imagine he’ll start to contribute once his abilities grow and he feels more comfortable talking. That’s totally OK to do if it appeals to you =)

      Hope that helps. Good luck in your studies!

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