Voice Chat in MMORPGs

Wired has a great little post about how Voice Chat Can Really Kill the Mood on WoW.

There are a lot of folks who swear by Ventrilo, and of course raiding guilds won’t let you in without it. I’ve steadfastly refused to use it, for exactly one of the reasons put forth by the guy writing the article–I’m a woman. When I’m typing in text I find it fairly easy to use language that’s ambiguous in terms of its sexuality; people almost always assume I’m a guy. I like that because I don’t get hit on and I don’t get folks condescending to me just because I’m female. I’m also naturally introverted, and as he pointed out, shy folks tend not to say much on voice chat–which leaves everyone listening to the locker room banter of the raucous teens in most guilds. That’s just never appealed to me; I can’t imagine why.

One of the downsides to the included voice chat in LotRO, I’ve found, is that folks are less tolerant of your not using it even in the simplest of quest fellowships. I’ll have folks making pointed comments about how I really should use it not because we actually need it for anything we’re doing, but because someone in the fellowship doesn’t feel like typing. I’ve taken to telling them my mic is broken. I definitely enjoy the game more when I can’t tell that the bearded dwarf is a 10-year-old, and he can’t tell that my hobbit guardian is a woman old enough to be his mother. Unless I’m getting to be friends with someone on-line I honestly don’t want them to know my gender and age, and if I had a 10-year-old kid playing one of these games I wouldn’t want him chatting away with midde-aged strangers.

I’m glad voice chat is available; I always loved listening in on the snarky jokes when my husband went raiding (he’d leave the output set to speaker so I could listen in). I just think it would be nice if folks would respect the wishes of those who don’t want to broadcast their voice–and their identity–to everyone else. Obviously that isn’t always an option when raiding, but in lesser circumstances it shouldn’t be an issue.

Speaking of raiding, as Foton notes over at AFK Gamer Blizz has started nerfing some of the attunements. It seems they’ve finally realized they’re alienating all but the most hardcore of raiding guilds with much of their complex end-game content and making it hard for even those guilds to bring newer members up to speed. Unfortunately I’ve found I’ve already gotten kind of fed up with the end-game content over there. I want to continue playing, but every time I think about logging in I consider what I could do when I log in and how many times I’ve done it before… and I log in to LotRO instead. Of course, as Van Hemlock notes, there are bunches of other games out there to try too, and his reminder got me to download D&D online last night just for kicks. So far it’s fun but I doubt I’ll want to pay the subscription fee for it. It has the feel of a standard single-player boxed game in which you just happen to run into other people, whereas WoW and LotRO feel as though they’ve taken advantage of the massively multiplayer environment to become another beast entirely. Still, that’s a rather unfair judgment for me to make at such an early stage, so I’ll keep playing it for the rest of the trial period.

Today’s review: Just as a note, today’s book review is The King Arthur Flour Company Whole Grain Baking Book.

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Posted in Gaming
2 comments on “Voice Chat in MMORPGs
  1. Chessack says:

    A lot of people shy away from voice chat for the reasons you stated. I personally find it very immersion-breaking in a roleplay environment. When I see a character using text chat I can imagine their voice sounding appropriate. Voice chat tends to kill that.

    That said, there is now starting to appear on the scene, some software that can help. One that I got turned onto by the community over at The Movies Online, is Morph-Vox. It supposedly works pretty well, though I have not tried it myself. In theory, at least, you could disguise your voice to sound male or perhaps indeterminate, using that program. It supposedly works with other software so you could probably get it to work with LOTRO. Also, I have heard that the code author is pretty responsive to e-mail and such, so if it doesn’t work with LOTRO he might modify it for you.


  2. heather says:

    Thanks for the info! I don’t know how much I’d use it just out of introversion, but if I ever find myself in a position to need to use Vent, I’ll definitely check it out.

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