If You Can Read This Headline, You Are One Of The Lucky Ones

If You Can Read This Headline, You Are One Of The Lucky Ones

Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail reminds the world in this piece — well, those of us in the English-speaking part of it at least — that the fact we speak English has us at a big advantage when it comes to video games and the internet. Pointing towards the gaming industry’s almost total reliance on English (outside of a few Japanese companies), he raises an excellent point about game development in the rest of the world.

As a half-Arab, I want to take a moment to consider the effects that has on our industry. Even our most inclusive efforts tend to exclude those that do not speak English, incapable of learning it for any reason, or that have the added advantage of using a different alphabet. It’s the purely English content of most of our talks at conferences, but also the fact that most chatrooms and forums simply do not allow any conversation in languages other than English. Bad grammar is frowned upon, eloquence in the language is considered a sign of professionalism and your ability to speak at events, gain any press traction or make any useful contacts is directly correlated to your knowledge of the language.

“Even with the amazing steps forward we’re making in our struggle for diversity”, he goes on to write, “it might be a good idea to realise that the language barrier is probably one of the largest invisible barriers that exists in our industry right now.

I can tell, using my superpowers, that many will respond to this with “well, learn English”. That’s a line I only ever hear from people privileged enough to have been born into the language in the first place.

Know that Rami’s post isn’t a call to arms. “Having access to English and the Latin alphabet is a tremendous privilege in our industry, whether it’s the fact that you were born with it or had the opportunity, time, education or money to learn it”, he says. “That might be something to keep in the back of your head.”

I want a little moment stand still by the fact that English speaking a enormous advantage give in this world. [Rami Ismail]


  • There isn’t a need to learn another language in Australia, unless you are coming here from another country. It is highly promoted in the Citizenship Test. In Europe many people learns multiple languages, and English is usually among them. I guess it depends on who your neighbours are and how well you want to communicate with them. Spanish seems to be quite prolific in some parts of the US as well. I don’t know if it’s so much of an industrial privilege as opposed to a cultural necessity.

    • Its actually pretty shameful in some sense. A lecturer in archaeology spoke of how she and another Australian were the only two Aussies on a dig in Greece paid for by the ??Dutch??. The site had multiple European archaeologists all of who would speak German or Dutch plus Italian and French. They spoke German for the most part until the Aussies came along and then everyone switched to English to accommodate them. Obviously in Australia we don’t need German or Dutch but we don’t have any foundation or prompt to learn a second language at all unlike many other places, especially Europe, where two, three or four languages are encouraged to aid communication. English, Spanish and Mandarin are the top spoken languages in the world. We should learn at least one of the other two and possibly Chinese due to proximity and trade relationships……having said that, die hard “we speak Australian” type people won’t like to hear this because they prefer their insular little world they live in.

      Personally its kind of arrogant to assume everyone will learn to speak to us, even when we are tourists in a foreign land yet we expect tourists here to speak English and speak disrespectfully if they don’t. Visit a European country and they will happily speak English to help and will do so with a big friendly smile on their face.

  • I wouldn’t care whether it is English or some other language but we really need to away with all languages bar one. My mothers family speak Pidgin(PNG), Chinese and German as well as English. It is ridiculous because they only bothered teaching me Pidgin(PNG) and basic Chinese.

    Instigate galactic basic I say.

      • That’s cool. I didn’t even know there was anything like that. I assumed but never looked into it. Our biggest failing is that during school they tried to teach French, Latin, German, Italian & Japanese. We need to pick a secondary language and stick with it. Esperanto sounds like a great idea.

        • Chinese (mandarin) would be more beneficial. Mandarin, Spanish English are the most spoken and our neighbours and business partners are more likely to know Mandarin than Spanish.

  • English won the language wars when the internet was invented. Until the aliens invade its not changing.

    • Actually it’s the aviation, the aviation industry world wide adopted English as the official language. It’s also the language of choice in trade.

  • oh well better have some guilt thrown down our throats. Suppose its our privilege. I am sorry that the English speaking world is more progressive than the Arab world.

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