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.”