Spinks has a great new post on voice chat vs. text chat on her Spinksville blog. In EQ2 we have built in voice chat and most groups use it fairly heavily, so one thing I’ve been wondering – do negative comments seem more hard hitting to you in voice chat? I was struck by this a few weeks ago in a group. Our tank was not performing as well as he could, and some of the group members started complaining about this in group chat. I’m sure we’re all used to seeing this from time to time, and as much as I don’t like it, it’s not going away. What really surprised me was when one of the people started using voice chat for a rant about the tank’s shortcomings, to the point the tank left the group. I don’t know why, but it seemed worse to me to hear someone insulting him in voice chat than regular chat.
I think part of this is that as users of the Internet and players of games, we’re pretty used to seeing all kinds of insults, profanity, and nonsense. By now I think we tend to mentally screen a lot of it out, and so when we see it in text chat, it’s just more of the same, and doesn’t have as much of an impact. With voice chat, it’s not just words on a screen anymore – we’re hearing one person attack another, like you might see in a real life argument (though separated by many miles.) Suddenly we can’t screen it out. I don’t know about you, but hearing other people argue is one of my least favorite things, and I certainly don’t want it to fill my game time!
I am mostly a defender of voice chat – I like using it, and with friends or guildmates I think it brings everyone a bit closer, and it is a bit more “real” of an experience. There are certainly many downsides though, as Spinks mentioned. What do you think?