To speak, or not to speak?

Voice chat is probably the way of the future in MMOs; actually, it may be the way of the now, and I’m just stuck in my old-fashioned ways. I am not an enormous fan of voice chat, for several good (rational) and less good (not so rational, but actually more compelling) reasons.

One, everyone always makes fun of my English — oh sorry, British — accent. That won’t change till I move back to the UK, and since that’s unlikely, I’d better stop letting it bother me. One-point-five, people used to invariably exclaim something along the lines of “well f*** me, you really are female!” That’s not so common now, and almost nonexistent when one picks one’s gaming buddies judiciously. Still, it contributed to my general unease with voice chat.

Two, those chats I did get involved with often ended up with inane chatter that really, utterly, totally didn’t interest me one bit. The chat output then becomes something like random background buzzing, only more distracting. It feels rude to leave such chats, especially because I fully understand that what may bore me clearly doesn’t bore others, and vice versa. People have a perfect right to express themselves in voice chat in any way and on any acceptable subject. I just wish I could say “Ok guys, this really doesn’t interest me, I’m going to turn this off and if you need me, just send me a tell in game.” Maybe in CoW-voice we’ll be able to do that; I’ve tried it previously and despite my attempts to be as … non-dramatic? as I could about it, it still caused a few ruffled feathers. I really don’t see why; not everything is interesting to everyone, and if you still think everything you say will fascinate every conceivable listener, you need to look away from the mirror for a while.

Three, and this is the thing that bothers me most because it seems the hardest to prevent or palliate, in my experience, extensive use of voice chat seems to kill guild chat, or indeed typing of any kind. Once you stop paying attention to typed guild chat it’s not long before you stop paying attention to any typed chat whatsoever. I was in an otherwise very nice guild that ended up this way, and it was disheartening. For me, a large part of MMOs is still seeing those various coloured chats scroll across the chat window. It’s not an MMO if there’s no typed chat – it just isn’t.

This last reason is a large part of why I strongly resist voice chat these days, and get a little stroppy if anyone even intimates that it might be made compulsory. For one, I don’t like to be compelled in general, and for another I think it’s unhealthy.

I suspect I’m part of a dying breed, and that within a few years chat windows will be optional and voice chat will be integrated (and expected) in all MMOs. For all its fantastic advantages (immediacy, a little more reality, etc), I’m not sure voice chat uber alles is something I’m looking forward to.

4 thoughts on “To speak, or not to speak?

  1. I don’t have a British accent and no one has ever said “Wow! You really ARE a guy!” to me, but I’m with you 100% on all your other points.

    Plus even though I’m not a role-player really, I do definitely like to immerse myself in the lore and feel of a game to escape the outside world. I *do* (usually) take the time to read quest descriptions and in WAR, the Tome fascinates me. I don’t want my head filled with voices talking about the Olympics while I’m trying to lose myself.

    Plus, I don’t live alone and I just think its rude to subject other people to 1/2 of a conversation constantly.

    I’ll do Voice Chat when there’s a good tactical reason for it, like a big RvR raid or something, but not “day to day.”

    So you’re not the only “dying breed” type in CoW.

  2. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to take the “voicechat is the wave of the future” argument with more than a couple grains of salt. Sure many groups use it, but even most of those don’t have 100% usage rates. Integration may well be a given, but wholesale replacement is unlikely at best.

    It we consider the basic requirements of text chat we get:
    A Keyboard (needed to play game)
    Literacy (needed to play game)
    Enough attention span to read .5-5 sentences. (really helpful for playing game.)
    An Opinion (comes standard with humanity.)

    For voice chat you need:
    A basically quiet environment. (No loud music)
    A microphone.
    Either nobody around, or people who don’t mind you doing the equivalent of talking on a cellphone in front of them for three hours straight.
    A certain amount of comfort level with total strangers judging you by your voice.
    AND Everything from regular chat between using it and getting it all set-up in the first place.

    Honestly, even though I do use it, voice chat is a huge hassle compared to typing.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly! However, I think even at a minimum voice chat is going to be an increasingly large part of games, and I’m trying to lessen my discomfort with it.

    What I want is someone to comment in favour of why it’s so wonderful, heh — though I’m a little surprised to see how many *other* people also find it a pain in the backside and/or a little intimidating. (Edit – by “many” I’m including commenters elsewhere. I’m not a goblin (one, two, many!).)

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