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Games Entertainment

Voice Chat Can Really Kill the Mood 539

Raver32 writes with Wired article about the strange juxtaposition of real life identities intruding on virtual world bliss. Voice chat is becoming a very common component of online games, from MMOGs to FPS titles. Many even bundle a voice chat service into the game client now. That's useful, tactically, but socially it can be downright frustrating, confusing, or awkward. "Recently I logged into World of Warcraft and I wound up questing alongside a mage and two dwarf warriors. I was the lowest-level newbie in the group, and the mage was the de-facto leader. He coached me on the details of each new quest, took the point position in dangerous fights and suggested tactics. He seemed like your classic virtual-world group leader: Confident, bold and streetsmart. But after a few hours he said he was getting tired of using text chat — and asked me to switch over to Ventrilo, an app that lets gamers chat using microphones and voice. I downloaded Ventrilo, logged in, dialed him up and ... realized he was an 11-year-old boy."
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Voice Chat Can Really Kill the Mood

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  • by Rhodey ( 702341 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:22PM (#19568943)
    Go! Seriously, though. "Kill The mood"? "Virtual world bliss"? "Confident, bold and streetsmart"? "Dwarf warriors"? This is too easy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:21PM (#19569971)
      "Hi, I'm Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. Getting ready for a night of level grinding huh?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      realized he was an 11-year-old boy

      Maybe he mistook role playing for role playing
      So...was he hoping for someone younger?

  • yup...

    roleplaying is tough when the voice is totally wrong.
    • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:34PM (#19569157) Journal
      We need something for gaming like those voice alteration devices for the phone. You know, the ones that frightened little old ladies use to sound like burly bikers? It could be done in software as a plug-in for voice chat. You could select your character's voice through a menu.

      The thing is, that 11 year old is getting valuable leadership and teaching experience. If he is competent to lead the party, and a simple software tweak would let you suspend disbelief, it's a good thing.
      • Usually, for me, it's not about the voice, its about the content, and there is no filter that is ever going to fix that. There are a few guildies of mine I leave on perma-mute because they're just so goddamn annoying...Great players, some of them, but jesus.

        That being said, I'd definitely like to see some filter technology. It'd add a lot to the ambiance. I think actually a lot of issues with that are currently relating to the voice actors guild, and their (understandable, though buggy-whippish) desire not
        • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:06PM (#19569703) Journal
          Hehe, I'm imagining a content filter, l33tsp34k to faux-olde-english. "n00b, I totally pwned joo!" becomes "Forsooth! Mighty foe, thou art vanquished!"

          Seriously though, I've been thinking about a MMORPG collective for serious gamers. A few thousand true role players could easily afford to go in on an adequate server and you could give people memberships for content contribution. It could work, but it would be a lot of effort and there would be no profit in it, so I don't see it happening. I would join something like that. It's hard coming from a pencil and paper RPG world where everyone really gets into the role playing aspect, to an MMORPG world where paladins have names like hotchixxor69. Ugh.
          • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <Satanicpuppy.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:15PM (#19569883) Journal
            Heh. Now if only we could find a way to filter the virtual tea-bagging...

            Pure role playing would be nice; lot of companies have role playing servers, but it's never really given serious support, so you still end up with the annoying l33t sp33kers showing up every now and then breaking up the mood.
          • by Skip666Kent ( 4128 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:48PM (#19571323)
            You should be able to do this pretty easily by having a moderated server with a 'dmz' zone where new players can 'audition' in a short, simple game setting. Accepted players would be accepted for a trial period.

            You could have at least 3 or more levels or 'realms' of access, with the higher levels being available to those players who show spirit, interest and stay in character. 'Experience points' or whatever should be lower on the list. If you want good role-players, then award experience/merit for good role-playing and advance them to higher realms (if not levels) based on that.

            The highest 'realm' might have lots of lowly 2nd level fighters/mages/whatever and 20th level wizards and so on, but they would all have proven themselves capable of playing by the rules and staying in character. That could afford some really interesting roleplay encounters, rather than a wide-open field with 'L33ts', high-score-hounds, spammers, gender-benders and genuine role-players all in one space. You could develop much more sophisticated storylines and such rather than just having strong characters prey on the week to go for the next level. Weak (low-level) players who are good role-players in a higher-realm setting could be given (in context) information or objects or abilities which make them valuable to the higher-level players in the context of one storyline/adventure or another.

            Exclusive access to the higher (more refined) realms would be a good carrot to encourage roleplay. People who don't like that would quickly go elsewhere to 'greener' (?) pastures. That would be a very interesting sort of server, and while I wouldn't be a player myself, I'd love to see some other group put it together and make it work.

      • by ByteGuerrilla ( 918383 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:25PM (#19571815)
        On the topic of the leadership skills that kid is gaining, this is a consideration I've come across recently and that might actually be a very valuable aspect of these computer games, in contrast to the ''they're turning your brain to mush!'' hyperbolae. My EVE-Online [eve-online.com] alliance has a 14-year old (well, he was fifteen the other week) pilot, and he is one of our fleet-commanders. While not as mature as those older than him, he is a great leader with a cool and level head, and I think his experience here is going to value him greatly when he is older, whether he is managing in business or joins the military.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Scoth ( 879800 )
          I agree, but it's not limited just to kids. I'm in my mid-20s, and I'd always been a happy worker bee type. I was good at taking specific instructions and making good things out of them. From there I could even take initiative and extend it. However, give me something vague or anything involving much leadership, and I froze up. I'd be tentative, cautious to the point of paralysis, and generally ineffective worrying I'd mess something up and let people down. Somewhere along the line my fiancee dragged me int
    • Is the solution some kind of built-in voice modulation, then? Have sound effects that, when layered on top of the audio captured by the microphone, can produce a desired characterization. Have a "font" for "Burly Dwarf" or "Dainty Fairy" and see what happens, give the users a certain amount of freedom with what happens with their voice.
    • by Zibblsnrt ( 125875 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:41PM (#19570335)
      Does anyone actually roleplay as opposed to rollplay in WoW anyway?

      Not trying to be too flippant; I'm genuinely curious. Anyone I know who talks about WoW goes on almost exclusively about either gaming the system or inter-player drama, and I'm wondering if there's more than a handful of exceptions in the game.
      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @07:55PM (#19572765) Journal
        Oh, *many* people, heck I'd say *most* people, roleplay in WOW. You were perhaps hoping they'd be roleplaying in a way that would be in-character for their avatars - this is a very odd expectation for a group that didn't come to MMORPGs from other RPGs.

        Nevertheless, people play with very distinct and consistant personalities that are often quite different from their "real life" personality. They're roleplaying an online persona, just not an "in-character" one. And, truthfully, if you just look at a game like WOW without bringing any background to it from other books and games, there's not much there to get in-character about.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          In other words, "very few."

          If you're looking for roleplay, stay the hell away from WoW. /Former Feathermoon RPer.
  • I suspect this is the future, however.

    You will be chatting with another engineer, then take a call and realize they are 10 years younger than you.
    • by juuri ( 7678 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:55PM (#19570535) Homepage
      realize they are 10 years younger than you.

      You speak as if this is something new. I'm actually getting uh, older now, but for the first part of my adult life working in and around the 'Net since the early 90s there was very rarely a situation where the other engineers or technicians were not significantly older than me. Many a lunch was spent listening to DEC guys talk about the work they did before I was born. Earning their trust and respect was a pretty hard thing to do.

      In virtual worlds, when you remove the things we base our common 1st opinions on, you tend to take a person at their acts and words more quickly. This lack of information which you would normally use in judgement forces you to focus on what is actually more important. In work situations wherever possible my preference is for text communication because it is easier for *me* to focus on the task at hand by removing the personal element from the people I am working with.

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:24PM (#19568975) Homepage
    Imagine the surprise the customers of the are in for!
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:24PM (#19568979)
    If he's competently leading the party, does it matter if he's an 11 year old boy or a 70 year old woman? Either way you're getting things done.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <eric-slash@@@omnifarious...org> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:28PM (#19569041) Homepage Journal

      If he's competently leading the party, does it matter if he's an 11 year old boy or a 70 year old woman? Either way you're getting things done.

      This is true. But it's really hard to take them seriously anyway. I knew an 11 year old in college who was better at math than I was and knew more of it. It was still really hard to take him seriously. In took a serious act of willpower, even though I knew, intellectually, that he really did know more than I did.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) * on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:43PM (#19569311) Homepage Journal

        It was still really hard to take him seriously.

        Silly question here, and I'm not telling you to take all 11-year-olds seriously...

        If someone has important information, why does their age/gender/religion/culture matter?
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Funny)

          by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) * on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:47PM (#19569389) Journal
          I agree. Or as some wag put it: "The internet has done wonders to eliminate the barriers to human interaction posed by age, gender, and distance. First question people ask online: a/s/l?"
        • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Altus ( 1034 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:58PM (#19569599) Homepage

          Im with you here. I'm still young enough to remember how much it would piss me off when adults wouldn't listen to me even when I knew something they didn't.

          I used to watch Nova back in early elementary school and my brain would hold onto all sorts of shit from than and from time to time I would spout some of this information back. My parents never took me seriously, they always assumed I was making it up (yea, I'm just making up shit about astrophysics... sure).

          Its important not to disregard someone just because of their age.
          • Re:So? (Score:5, Funny)

            by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:10PM (#19570751)
            I'm guessing the difference between 'then' and 'than' never took hold, looks like the whole 'not listening' part went both ways.
          • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:51PM (#19572121) Homepage
            I remember the frustration as well, but what I conveniently forget (which has been painfully illustrated by my own kids) is how often I was wrong. We judge people's insight based on past performance, and kids generally have a poor track record because, among other things, while they may clearly remember a conversation, or an event that occurred, they frequently mis-interpret what actually transpired, or leave out important details. For example, when his teacher asked him to confirm that "xxx-xxxx" was our phone number, my 6 year-old came to the conclusion that his teacher had the same phone number as we did, and vehemently insisted that this was true. For some reason or another, he had completely misinterpreted what had happened. As another example, apparently his school is still teaching that Pluto is a planet (as of last month). I was completely unsuccessful at convincing him otherwise, probably because he doesn't yet completely understand that definitions are not absolute (although I didn't try very hard because I didn't want him to fail his assignments. Yes, I could have pressed the issue with the school, but I think it will be easier, and no less effective in the long run, to just explain it when he's a bit older). Anyway, when someone presents you with misinformation on a fairly constant basis, you have to take everything they say with a grain of salt, and that's true whether the source is a child or an adult. I try to give the benefit of the doubt, but unless you have kids, or deal with them on a regular basis, it's hard to appreciate how often they're just plain wrong. Given that, it's not hard to understand why parents assume their children are wrong if what their children say conflicts with their view of reality. Parents should probably try to be open to the idea that their children are right, but at the same time, learning to present a convincing argument (and when not to bother) is an important part of growing up.
        • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <eric-slash@@@omnifarious...org> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:08PM (#19569757) Homepage Journal

          Because he was so much an 11 year old in all other respects. He had an 11 year old's social skills, and everything else that came with being 11.

          If a woman walked into my workplace and started acting like an air-headed bimbo I'd have a hard time taking her seriously too, even if turns out that she developed a public key encryption method that isn't defeated by quantum computing. Especially if she was always asking the men around to 'help' her.

          When certain aspects of a personality don't come over, like in text chat, it doesn't matter. But when you hear them a whole bunch of things you didn't notice before suddenly pop out and it's really hard to ignore them and just pay attention to the important thing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by oddfox ( 685475 )

            Translation: Everything that's actually important is pushed aside and made more difficult to acknowledge once I find this person isn't what/who I thought he/she was.

            You're always going to find something to nit-pick about anybody, it's very rare to find someone who never gets on your nerves for anything. It's pretty ridiculous that even in this day and age teens and younger kids (and women who don't make the cut) have to go above and beyond for most "adults" to take them seriously.

            In the context of this

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

            by PMBjornerud ( 947233 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:24PM (#19573121)
            The social norms of 30- and 11-year-olds are different, obviously.

            Text is a very slow medium, so only the most information is conveyed. Little overhead. If you use text, you don't have time for chatter and socializing. The game is in focus. If someone knows how to play, he can be 5 or 50, it does not matter.

            Speech is much faster, and allows for a great deal of nuances. Subtle jokes, puns and references. A different social context between the person will be extremely obvious. The way you normally talk to your friends doesn't connect with the other person. It doesn't really matter for the game, but your instincs will tell you that you're interacting with people ouside your "group".

            In closing: Have anyone here ever met a group of roleplay'ers that coordinate internally using voice chat? everything you see will match their character, and be wonderfully synchronized. Voice chat improve the mood, too.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            If a woman walked into my workplace and started acting like an air-headed bimbo I'd have a hard time taking her seriously too, even if turns out that she developed a public key encryption method that isn't defeated by quantum computing. Especially if she was always asking the men around to 'help' her.

            I hope you don't plan on being in the upper echelons of whatever social order you are engaged in, at least not in the U.S., and most of Europe.

            From my experience, people at or near the top use whatever skills,
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by servognome ( 738846 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:15PM (#19569863)

          If someone has important information, why does their age/gender/religion/culture matter?
          Why does anything matter, including education, confidence, height, clothes, etc?
          It comes down to trying to determine if you believe somebody has important information. We have to internally decide whether the person is believalbe or not based on whatever cues we given. Typically this is done based on our previous experiences and over time we build up a database and naturally use them to fill in gaps of knowledge and make assumptions.
          This is why social engineering works so well, it plays upon widely accepted expectations of human interaction.

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:34PM (#19571945) Journal
            'It comes down to trying to determine if you believe somebody has important information.'

            You have just nailed one of the greatest flaws in typical human reasoning. Humans attempt to judge the source rather than information. Hitler could have written the most profound poetry, work that gives the reader a beneficial life altering insight into their soul. Only a few historians would ever read it and even they may not read it with an open mind.

            A better example is Eugenics. Eugenics has never been seriously considered in the modern day because of the unscientific manner in which the Nazi's used the concept to justify genocide. People can't seem to separate the two. It's actually fairly sad because ranchers and farmers have assumed the validity of Eugenics (probably without even knowing what it was and the stigma attached to it) for decades if not centuries and their successful results make it very difficult to dispute the core concept.

            One should never consider the source when determining the validity and importance of information except as a last resort. Instead, one should consider the information itself and let it stand or fall on its own merit.
            • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by dabraun ( 626287 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:10PM (#19573549)

              You have just nailed one of the greatest flaws in typical human reasoning. Humans attempt to judge the source rather than information. Hitler could have written the most profound poetry, work that gives the reader a beneficial life altering insight into their soul. Only a few historians would ever read it and even they may not read it with an open mind.

              There is too much information to give everything equal consideration. We apply a higher level filter to determine which sources of information we should spend our time on. The filter is not perfect, but without it you can not focus on anything specific. We miss some gems because of this, we think within a box, we value people who can think outside the box - but consider that if you are so far outside the box that you can't find the box you are no longer "clever" you are just "crazy".
        • by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:52PM (#19571395) Homepage
          If someone has important information, why does their age/gender/religion/culture matter?

          It matters because bias is a psychological mechanism of self-preservation. People like to chalk up biases to "ignorance, anger, and hatred" but we all have them because they are typically correct for the situations in which we formed them. Our mind processes the information different based on the source.

          If a stately man his 60s wearing a suit and an 18 year old with a Green Day shirt start talking about global economic policy, who do you tend to believe? Chances are fairly good that you believe the old fart, irrespective of the fact that he may be a janitor and the teenager could be some kind of economic prodigy. We have those biases because probabilistically, they are usually correct for a familiar situation.

          As such, an 11 year old may be a VERY capable gamer, but we don't mentally endow them with the required wisdom and experience needed to be an effective leader. In "virtual reality" he is portrayed as an old mage with leadership ability. On some level, you anticipate the person to posses the attributes of the character they are playing, and when you perceive that they don't, you feel lied to.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Loadmaster ( 720754 )
      It's about suspension of disbelief and role playing. Take HBO's Rome for example. Replace Ceasar's voice (same actor) with Jaleel White as Steve Urkel. Maybe that's how Ceasar really sounded, but it doesn't help your attachment and emotional involvement in the show.

      Same thing here, if your leader is a beefy Ahnold-esque barbarian you expect a deep manly voice. He may be a great leader, but it hurts your role playing ability.

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        Then you have problems with your imagination. I've rped as everrything from a female to a barbarian to a kender, all with my somewhat deep male voice. Dispension of disbelief has to do with your imagination, not with the voice of the other person. Or have you never played a tabletop game?
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GWLlosa ( 800011 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:43PM (#19569299)
      The problem I have with the age variations on a video game is that I was raised to address certain social groups differently. It _totally_ kills my gaming mood when I chew out the squad leader in BF2142 for making a bad call and then have some kid (or worse, some young girl) come on voice comms to apologize. I mean, I would never have used that language if I'd realized it was a kid/girl in the first place, and now I'm an asshole. I realize this is a 'self-inflicted' problem, but the converse (you realize that hard-charging drill-sergeant vocabulary is coming from a 6 year old) is just as disquieting.
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Altus ( 1034 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:05PM (#19569693) Homepage

        Back in the day I used to do larping. I was the leader of my group and for the most part they were just friends of mine. I was one of the natural leaders of the social group anyway so it wasn't that hard to deal with, but one of my friends fathers came to game with us. I was a high school/college student at the time but he was a very intelligent engineer with fantastic reasoning and logic skills and I really looked up to him personally.

        His character, however, was that of a basic support healer, not a lot of initiative and very risk adverse. My tendency would have been to go to this guy for advice but instead he would come to me asking if he should use his healing now or save it for later (staying in character). This totally threw me, how could I be in charge of someone like that? how could I be the one making the decisions in the face of someone I would normally deffer to.

        So I sucked it up and made the decisions and became a better role player for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MMC Monster ( 602931 )
      Problem is when you "talk trash" with them and get arrested for something regarding child pornography.

      Having a special icon when you are under the age of consent (A lovely debate on what *that* should be) is not just to protect the juvenile, but also everyone who interacts with them.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:37PM (#19571167)
      I don't care who's running the party, but what is it with the language? The author of the article hits on something that really bugs me. Fuck this, fuck that, motherfuckin' giant kicked my motherfuckin' ass. All this spewing out of the mouth of some kid who isn't even old enough to see a Samuel L. Jackson movie. I'm 45, spent 10 years in the Navy and even I don't use language like that. Hey, I'm not some overly sensitive, touchy feely guy, but, holy crap! Maybe somebody who is a quarter of my age can fill me in...
    • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Terrasque ( 796014 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:58PM (#19571467) Homepage Journal
      I was thinking of moderating your post up, but I just had to write something on this

      and ... realized he was an 11-year-old boy.
      My first reaction to this was "yes, and?" - He's obviously been doing a great job up till then, and there is no reason why the fact that he's 11 (which he was all the time, even before you knew it) should change anything about that.

      I've played WoW for some time now, and I have been in raids where we use voice chat to coordinate the raids (and crack jokes at each other, of course), and one lesson learned is : Listen to what people say, not who's saying it. A 12 year old have saved our raid's collective asses a few times when on raiding, and is class leader in our guild (He coordinate that class, distribute loot for that class, and generally keep control over them). The fact that he's 12 is of no consequence to us. He knows what he's doing, he's smart enough, and that's all that matters.

      Now, of course, if you actually read the article (which I did just now.. shame on me), the text goes on like this :

      I still enjoyed questing with him -- he was a terrific World of Warcraft player. But there's no doubt that hearing each other's voices abruptly changed our social milieu. He seemed equally weirded out by me -- a 38-year-old guy who undoubtedly sounds more like his father than anyone he recognizes as a "gamer." After an hour of this, we all politely logged off and never hooked up again.
      Which brings a different light to it all, and may have some valid points, best described as "cultural shock". The boy's way of talking was different than what he was used to, and vice versa. Looks like a great opportunity really, to learn something new about the world, too bad they couldn't handle it.
      • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:14PM (#19571665)
        In my last guild, we had an age minimum of 18. But the rule was that we never asked someone their age directly, and we ignored little slips like applicants mentioning high school. Or grade school for that matter (we basicly pretended school meant college). The idea was that if you could trick us into thinking you were a certain age based on maturity level, you were cool no matter what your true age was. If you couldn't, we suddenly remembered those slips and said no based on age. This helped us to weed out the immature kiddies, while letting in those who were mature for their age.
  • Lucky you (Score:5, Funny)

    by ajenteks ( 943860 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:26PM (#19568999)

    I downloaded Ventrilo, logged in, dialed him up and ... realized he was an 11-year-old boy.
    Hey, at least it wasn't feds or NBC reporters right?
  • by callistra.moonshadow ( 956717 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:26PM (#19569007) Journal
    I play Guild Wars. Recently we (the hubby) and I picked up Vent since it is what our Alliance and Guild uses for communication on long/complicated missions. I generally know how old folks are in my guild/team but it was definitly enlightening to hear accents from the UK to the deep South of the US. On some levels it was cool but it does have a different flavor from going at it with text. Somehow you lose some of the ambience. Not sure how else to explain it.
    • by k_187 ( 61692 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:29PM (#19569063) Journal
      If you're reading text its a lot easier to picture the sounds as coming from a dwarf or elf or whatever than when you hear their actual voice.
      • by LocoMan ( 744414 )
        Specially when the though warrior dwarf ends up sounding like this:

        http://karacry.ytmnd.com/ [ytmnd.com]

        In the guild I play on in WoW (we're a rather casual guild) we're actually preparing to do our first raid test soon, and thinking about getting ventrilo... but right after it was mentioned, most of the people said they won't be doing any talking, and most of us have known each other for years on IRC before getting into WoW.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by StikyPad ( 445176 )
        Yeah, the 45 year-old chain smoker voice really kills the illusion of the young dainty wood-elf as well. Especially when it's a man.
    • by Sciros ( 986030 )
      But a great advantage is that you can mute the "dialog" volume in options and take turns acting out cutscenes. Improv beats Guild Wars in-game voice acting any day :-P
    • by rkanodia ( 211354 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:27PM (#19570061)
      One of the guys in my guild sounds exactly like Homestar Runner and doesn't know it. We've been trying to trick him into saying 'fishsticks' for weeks now; we can only hope...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:26PM (#19569011)
    I hate voice chat, not because I care if the player on the other end is 11, or the female elf is played by a man, but because I'm not good at distinguishing new voices. It's much easier to see who's talking in the text chat where there name appears next to whatever they say, then try to remember if that voice is the fighter or the cleric.
    • by chill ( 34294 )
      Team Speak Overlay http://www.teamspeakoverlay.com/ [teamspeakoverlay.com]

      A small utility that overlays the name of whoever is talking on your screen.

      It works great with America's Army and Battlefield 2.

      I have no idea if there is a similar utility for Ventrillo.
    • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:36PM (#19570235)
      Additionally, there's no scrollback for voice chat. With text chat you can maintain and follow several lines of conversation at a single time. Voice chat makes that impossible.

      Difficulty of roleplaying: Strike 1
      Squeeky immature jerks (sometimes): Strike 2
      Loss of multi-chatting functionality and scrollback: Strike 3... I'll stick with text.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crashfrog ( 126007 )
        With text chat you can maintain and follow several lines of conversation at a single time.

        The problem is, with text chat that's all you can do. You have to stop controlling your character to relay anything but the simplest and fastest of 1-letter instructions.

        As long as you don't need to carry on multiple lines of conversation, but you can't afford to have everybody stop and stand still while you communicate complex strategy, voice chat is the way to go. That's why it's de facto for raids; it's a necessity
  • by Puff of Logic ( 895805 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:28PM (#19569059)
    We hates the squeakers [ctrlaltdel-online.com], Precious, we hates them!
  • by Gman14msu ( 993012 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:31PM (#19569113)
    Wouldn't the logical expansion of the role playing game be to implement voice changing technology? That would make the game completely immersive and allow anyone to assume an identity completely different from themselves and project the image that they want to into the game not their own selves, which is probably a big draw of the game in the first place. This would really take MMORPGs to another level where the online self is completely separate from the "real life" person. Honestly (in some sense) it's unfortunate for that 11 year old in the game that he was judged later on based on his voice and not just skills in the game. Nobody said you needed to have certain skills and a baritone voice to be a successful leader.
  • identity (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hemogoblin ( 982564 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:31PM (#19569117)

    ...realized he was an 11-year-old boy.
    Thats silly. Everyone knows that anyone claiming to be between the ages of 10 and 14 is an FBI agent.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BumBiscuit ( 744070 )

      Thats silly. Everyone knows that anyone claiming to be between the ages of 10 and 14 is an FBI agent.
      Either that, or Dateline NBC's Chris Hansen.
  • hotness (Score:5, Funny)

    by WetBeaverSRU ( 662854 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:37PM (#19569213) Homepage
    I am a 27 year old male that plays a female rogue bloodelf. I was first invited into a guild because they must've thought I was a chick only later to find out that I was a dood when I first spoke in vent during a Gruul run. It was soooo funny because I always just thought the gm was just being a nice guy all those times he told me he'd definately save me a spot!
    • Re:hotness (Score:4, Interesting)

      by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke@ f o o l i s h g a m es.com> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:29PM (#19570125) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, I had a similar experience. My wife and I were in a party in an instance. I kept getting hit on by some dude in the party. I had a female mage and my wife was playing a male rouge. That moron got us all killed and then asked me if I would be interested in some action... when he found out I was a guy, he freaked out. My wife was laughing her ass off.

      I have this theory that almost all the female characters in WoW are men. Most women I know that play usually pick guys so they don't get hit on all the time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke ( 6130 )
        I have this theory that almost all the female characters in WoW are men. Most women I know that play usually pick guys so they don't get hit on all the time.

        Yeah, the women don't want to be bothered, and the men would rather look at a female avatar's behind for endless hours than a male one.

        At least, the normal self-confident men. The ones who get all wrapped up in their character's sexual identity really crack me up. Like the guy you talked about freaking out that a man was playing a female character, ob
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:38PM (#19569231) Homepage Journal
    My, um... friend was like totally cybering this night elf chick when some other guys said "Dude! That chick is a dude!" Well I... I mean my friend didn't want to believe that so he asked her to get on vent and and what do you know, she was a dude! Total mood killer!

    Moral of this story: Watch out for the hostess, she may have a twinkie...

  • Menacing?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by revlayle ( 964221 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:39PM (#19569243) Homepage
    "I AM THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS!" really doesn't work with a beginning-to-crack-prepubescent-boy voice, does it?
  • I mean they do it to protect witnesses? The informant on Michael Vick sounds like he's 7' tall and drinks crude oil for breakfast, at least on ESPN. The old xbox live used to have some cheesy voice mods, but they've got to have better tech by now. That being said I don't really ahve any interst in using voice chat. I can type it at least as fast as I can say it, and am not interested in hearing what others really sound like.
  • by Bongo Bill ( 853669 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:47PM (#19569397) Homepage
    Any game whose developers considered the flood of racial epithets, pathetic enraged profanity, and inane babble that inevitably results from voice chat vital is a game that I don't play. If I can't shut 'em off and still be effective, it's a deal-breaker. I don't want to hear your shit.
  • ah yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:49PM (#19569439) Journal
    Glad to know im not the only one who finds voice a mood killa. Peoples insipid gossip and just talking for the hell of it. Some people just like to talk and talk about NOTHING. I assume these are the same people who start dialing their phone before they start their car. Who has that much idle chatter stored up in their brain? If its text, its pretty easy to filter, but voice? Forget about it.

    The usefull information and orders are intermixed with information about some guys hernia operation or fluffy kitty. Not to mention the pre pubescent people SCREAMING into the mic for attention, girls flirting with everyone, etc. Nothing makes me cringe more than hearing nasily wow players flirting with girls over vent. I especially hated that when I played wow. It completely ruins the fantasy mood but was required for endgame raiding. I dont want to be slaying dragons with the pimple faced kid from the simpsons. Id much rather picture peoples characters than the "character" that their voice reminds me of.

  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:59PM (#19569613)
    Like TFA said, it's a widespread problem in virtual worlds, but it can become even worse when the world itself introduces voice support, without requiring 3rd party software. Then you get a presumption of voice availability, and not wishing to use voice can then get interpreted in various destructive ways.

    This came to a head recently in Second Life, when they introduced voice chat functionality (actually still in beta). One of the most cogent discussions about it was made by a well-known SL commentator in her essay The End of Anonymity, Part II [gwynethllewelyn.net], which focussed mainly on the end of immersion in SL. Her conclusion, that it will force non-politically-correct roleplayers into "ghettos" and destroy mainstream immersion, does seem reasonable.

    Avatars in SL can be anything you like, no limit, so not surprisingly roleplay is extremely popular. The main grid is expressly for adults only, and so of course there is much interest in gender roleplay, in both directions (the gender spread is almost exactly 50/50). Needless to say, the loss of immersion through voice immediately gave rise to a lot of concern among roleplayers. This still has to be played out on the main grid, but it's certain that the impact will be large.
  • Not The Usual Case (Score:3, Interesting)

    by endianx ( 1006895 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:59PM (#19569617)

    He seemed like your classic virtual-world group leader: Confident, bold and streetsmart.
    This is not the usual case. When the standard of text chat is something along the lines of "OMFG I PWN3D teh orx0r!11!1l lolol", it is much less disruptive to the fantasy world to actually hear them speak.
  • by Demon-Xanth ( 100910 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @03:59PM (#19569625)
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-715315209 8207965240 [google.com]

    http://www.break.com/index/mom-tells-kid-no-more-w arcraft.html [break.com]

    Where would the internet be without gems such as those?
  • by HarvardAce ( 771954 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:02PM (#19569661) Homepage
    While I agree that roleplaying may suffer a bit when you have a night elf female voiced by a guy who sounds like he's from the south, I've found that having voice chat can make the games much more fun.

    Back in my WoW days I enjoyed jumping on Teamspeak and chatting with people during our raids. Our guild was good enough that when we were clearing trash mobs (unless someone screwed up) we could freely chat and tell jokes and stuff. It also made hours of grinding for items much more fun when you could just chat with people. The range of real people behind the players also made for some interesting times. We had people that ranged from early teens to grandmothers/grandfathers, all across the world in a variety of different occupations. It made the game a lot more fun because you developed a certain bond with the other players that you couldn't do only over text chat.

    Plus it was really fun listening to the guys/girls with the Australian accents!
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:04PM (#19569675)
    I have been in online games, where the people using mikes actually used them to communicate information pertinent to the team.

    But I've also been in other games, where the voice was used to discuss movies, or worse yet by a weird whining 11 year old who kept asking why people were so stupid they had to type instead of just using voice.

    The thing is, the information passed along by voice is often just as well delivered by keyboard, and can be almost as fast to deliver if you set up macros or just type quick. But when people are yakking, it's really distracting and it usually means you are on a losing team.

    So I'd say that voice chat when it's bad can be horrible, but as its best is only marginally more useful - therefore I can leave it more than take it.
  • Unreal Tournament (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @04:38PM (#19570277)
    I only play UT2004, no other online games, but I can say that voice chat is generally a benefit and does add a lot to the atmosphere of the game even if you don't have a mic. It usually turns out that someone with a mic suggests tactics and alerts which most people generally respond to, so it makes the team more cohesive.

    Of course you do get the odd annoying whiney little moron, but its pretty rare. From other reports it sounds like UT generally attracts a better class of player comapred to games like Wow. Maybe because its 3 or 4 years old now and doesn't need a monthly subscription, it keeps the more braindead/annoying/younger players away.
  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:06PM (#19570691)
    I am a huge fan of the eariler Red Storm Rainbow Six and the first couple Ghost recons and their expansion packs. (Recently they've become arcade shoot 'em ups instead of being tactical games) And so I bought a mic for my PS2 thinking that folks would actually use them to communicate and use tactics.

    Wrong. All it seems people use them for is just talking crap about each other. I maybe only get to play a couple hours a month anymore and really only want to play co-op missions for fun. It's entertainment. I always run into a few folks there for the same reason, but even more kids that are frankly punks out to diss everyone else and prove to the universe how cool they are.

    That and clans. Everyone seems to be talking about this clan or that clan or do you want to join a clan...crap, I want to charge up the hill with people that know a thing or two about fire/movement tactics, and have some fun! I don't care about the inner politics of the gaming community.

  • by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:33PM (#19571927)
    I'd put my 11YO's judgment up against many 40YOs I work with any day.
  • by oborseth ( 636455 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @07:50PM (#19572707)
    He has a level 31 Blood Elf hunter and to my amazement he is always getting into instances. He can't really read what is being said in party chat and he can't really communicate with them but he'll go an entire instance. I often wonder what the other people in the party must be thinking about him. I assume they think he doesn't speak English. If they check out hi character they have to be thinking WTF. He's got a cloth piece with spirit and healing and some odd leather pieces that don't belong on a hunter. Although, he is able to determine if something is leather or cloth now. He does lots of runs without a pet and at times without arrows so he has to use his sword, dagger, or whatever random weapon he happens to be using at the time. So, moral of the story is you just never know who you might be playing with online. It could be a 6 year old kid.
  • What, is this 1990 all over again? I can understand being a bit weirded the first time you realize that most of the online gaming community:

    1.) Is Better than you.
    2.) Has already beaten you to all the unique items and has proceeded to sell them for real money on Ebay.
    3.) Is not in your Age group, Tax bracket, Generation Gap, Location or Species.

    But I think the thing that the original poster has not realized is that he is the *odd man out*
    An "*ageing hipster* who participates in Online RPG" translates into "weird OG" to most of the kids online which, for the uninitiated masses of my generation does not stand for "original gangster" but "*Old Guy*". We aren't in charge anymore. These kids grew using computers, and didn't learn how to role play with those weird dice you had to colour in with the crayons that came in the box with the first books.

    The mean age of online gamers is 13. some may even be cats. you can never trust cats. They sneak online when their owners aren't home and download huge videos of tuna fishing. Thats where all the bandwidth they can't understand they have used is coming from.. their cats. Some cats even post to /.

    Then they sit smugly on top of their monitors and laugh at them.

    anyway, I digress.

  • by JFMulder ( 59706 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:23PM (#19574399)
    I was having sex with this girl last night and she was always talking "give it to me, oh yeah, big brute, I love it, yeah, harder, bad boy"

    So I stopped. Too much talking is like too little.

    Oh wait, we're talking internet chat...

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