Testing where feeds go.
While looking over the patch notes for Minecraft 1.2.4, I noticed a section under the known bugs labelled "Translation Related". There, in addition to a lot of notes about Spanish translations that mostly seemed to involve correcting names (including some interesting juggling of the terms castellano and español that might be deserving of its own post), I found this curious and rather amusing line:
The translation [Quenya (Arda)] has "Lever" labeled as "Mechanic Pen*s"
A quick check reveals that Minecraft is actually available in three constructed languages: Esperanto [listed as "Esperanto (Mondo)"], Quenya ["Quenya (Arda)"], Klingon ["tlhIngan Hol (US)"] ... Why Klingon's listing is US and not some term for the Klingon Empire or their homeworld Kronos/Qo'noS I wouldn't know.
The trivia on Minepedia's Language* page does not redact the term, so I presume that some joker did indeed name the Lever element "Mechanical Penis" (Minecraft uses a crowdsourcing site for translations, and it has gotten them in bigger trouble than this.), however, the problem was apparently fixed, as when I jumped in the game using the Quenya UI and made a lever, the mouseover text read "Turolwen" as shown in the image below.
I can't vouch for the accuracy of any of these translations of course, though the Quenya is obviously incomplete, as a few English words and phrases are still being used. Of course, I'm sure that many of the words Minecraft needs would not be in any canonical Tolkien source, and I think the Elven language people tend to be a little touchy about coinages -- it's just one of the things that can get them arguing.
In any case, it's cool to see people having fun with some conlangs. In addition to the proper conlangs listed above, there is also a hilarious joke language called Pirate English in the options, and it's pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be. And of course, there are a wide array of natural languages, too, which will of couse benefit Minecraft a bit more.
*Which, as I write this, does not list Esperanto, though I'm sure that will be corrected.
The reasons given for taking away the materials are that Dungeons & Dragons "promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling." I'm going to work through those backwards:
- Gambling: I'm not sure where this even comes from. I've never heard of someone betting on a role-playing game. I kind of wonder whether someone saw that it uses dice and assumed gambling was involved.
- Addictive escape behaviors: I can see this. Just about anything can be addictive, and games have been in a spotlight. I don't know how much that applies to D&D, though: as far as I understand most addictions don't absolutely require a social group (even a sex addict can pursue his craving by himself). It is, however, almost definitely a from of escape, and if I were in prison I think I'd like something escapist to do.
- Violence: There is violence associated with the game. There is a reason why the most fleshed-out rule system in D&D and other role-playing systems is the combat system. But I don't know that it inspires violence any more than any other media. Perhaps someone could think it dangerous to have in a prison, where there will be people who are predisposed to violent behavior. I don't know enough psychology to pretend to know about that.
- Competitive hostility: Ah, possibly. This one depends entirely on the type of game. AFAIK, most D&D campaigns involve the group working together toward a common goal or against a common (non-player) enemy. There is such a thing as competitive play, and even in a standard game there is sometimes an adversarial relationship between the game master and the players, but that's not an essential part of the game itself.
- Fantasy role playing: This is the one that I don't understand at all (and neither did the guys on Fear the Boot). Yes, D&D promotes fantasy role playing, that's what it's for! It's a fantasy role-playing system. But why is fantasy role-playing (or just role-playing) a bad thing for the prisoners? Why, exactly, would occasionally pretending to be a wizard that can throw fireballs have a bad influence on anyone, let alone someone who has actually killed people. Do people really still have that prejudice that D&D is "satanic" or somesuch?
There is one other thing I want to discuss. According to the article, among the materials confiscated by the guards was a 96-page custom campaign. That's a pretty big work. Art and writing can be used as forms of therapy, creating a D&D campaign can essentially be considered a kind of writing. Would it be the same if what was taken away was the manuscript for a 96-page novella? Note, I'm making no judgement about content or value of the work, I haven't seen it or played it. But, is it normal for prisoner's artwork or writing to be confiscated? If so, why? If not, would that fall under "cruel and unusual punishment"? I do wonder about that.
On another note entirely:
If there are any gamers reading this who are charity-minded, I also happened upon this on Drive-Thru RPG. Basically, if you donate $20, they will give you almost $1500 in RPG PDFs. Mostly supplements and lesser-known systems, but that's (hopefully) not why you're giving the money (well, not the only reason) -- it goes as a matched donation to Doctors without Borders to be used in Haiti.