Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-03-04 12:39 JST)
A message in Elden Ring saying “fort, night” has left Japanese players confused and international players reacting on social media. Perhaps spreading memes with the game’s message templates is harder than we all thought.
Elden Ring is the latest action RPG from FromSoftware. Not only does the game feature online battles and cooperative play, but there is also a messaging system that helps bring players a little closer together on their difficult journey. The system allows players to combine predetermined words and phrases to create their own messages to leave for other players across the game’s world.
While the words and phrases players can use are fixed, there are still plenty to choose from. You can combine two different kinds of phrases or leave behind a gesture, the game’s version of an emote, for others to see. Part of the fun is not only sharing tips with other players but combining phrases to make dumb jokes and puns.
The system also allows other players to rate your message and each time you get rated, you recover health. This has players all around the world leaving messages around Elden Ring as they please.
Messages are also shared with players across different languages and each set word or phrase is assigned an equivalent in each language. So if someone uses “dog” in their message, it will be converted to the predetermined corresponding word in other languages. Because of this kind of language conversion, players can share their message globally regardless of language.
But this kind of word conversion can lead to some mysterious messages. One that’s getting special attention on social media is a message saying “fort, night,” which can be seen often in the Fort Haight area of the game. If you took it at face value, you might think something special will happen if you visit the fort at night. On Twitter, we can see perplexed Japanese players saying they waited at the fort until nighttime, but nothing happened. That’s because the message is a bit of wordplay left by English players that doesn’t really translate when converted directly to Japanese.
The “fort, night” message is a reference to the popular game Fortnite. The similarity between “Fort Haight” and “Fortnite” seems to be almost daring players to make the reference. But when that English wordplay based on a game title gets directly converted to Japanese, it becomes a message that makes players think something happens at the fort at night.
It looks like players in the English-speaking world also noticed Japanese players’ bewilderment at the message when Japanese to English translator Andrew Hodgson posted about it on their Twitter account. The tweet let the world know that a simple joke was being taken as a serious hint when converted to Japanese and misleading players.
Hodgson’s tweet received over 10,000 retweets and drew a large reaction. There were also players unaware that messages were converted and sent to players playing in other languages. It sounds like English players had no idea their joke would cause Japanese players to wait around a fort… at night. It’s not only confusing Japanese players, though, with one Spanish language user responding, “I spent a very good 30 minutes wandering through the whole fort waiting for absolutely nothing.”
Another message from English to Japanese that doesn’t quite translate is “But hole.” When converted to Japanese, it loses its allusion to—well, you get it. It ends up being a more mysterious message closer to “However hole.”
There are messages from Japanese players that don’t translate so well when converted to English either, such as “Grass.” The Japanese character for grass (草) is used similarly to something like “lol” online, and one player commented, “In Scotland a ‘grass’ is a snitch so I thought it was about a dodgy NPC.”
Players seem to be having fun discussing the discrepancies born from these messages and the odd way it allows us to communicate.
While the automatic message conversions have troubled some players who were unintentionally misled by memes, it is an interesting phenomenon. It’s a story born from Elden Ring’s high degree of freedom and social features. If you see a message that’s difficult to decipher, maybe it’s best to assume it was an international player when trying to guess at the meaning.