Current Issue: Vol. 7-1 (03/09/2009)



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VoIP Usage

Social Constraints and Player Reactions to VoIP

I also think there are some social constraints to VoIP adoption within these environments. One thing that I've already mentioned is that it breaks immersion. The ogre voice in your head always sounds better than the ogre voice most people can produce. So mismatch can be a problem in terms of immersion.

But these mismatches can cause other kinds of problems. So for example, given that 50% of all female characters in WoW are played by male players, how might they react to VoIP. One player provided an interesting perspective on this site.

I am a male that has never played an interactive game like WoW before. I will tell you I'm married and 50 years old If I knew then what I know now about WoW I would have never rolled a girl player.

I have found out there are a lot of players that expect to be talking to a girl when they see a female player. I felt uncomfortable in certain situations but I would not lead anyone on and figured no one would ever know since I was in some unknown area of the world.

Now as I get closer to level 60 I'm finding out that game end raid parties use speech/sound software to communicate instead of typing. Because of this I now have to ditch this player and roll a male player so that I fit in with what's expected.

Another thing to keep in mind is that voice carries social markers that can indicate age, social status, ethnic background, and geographical location - markers that could potentially be discriminated against. So for example, a mature 16 year old player who is leading a guild may not want others to know his/her real age. Many Chinese players also complain about being accused of being a gold farmer when they are seen using Mandarin in typed chat. The "English Test" used to screen out potential gold farmers in pick-up groups also reflect this discrimination. VoIP may exacerbate this discrimination based on accented English.

There are also anecdotal cases of players who have VoIP tools but prefer to not use them for fear of alienating their friends who do not have VoIP access. And finally, technology can ostracize people in another way. It is important to remember that enablers can also disable. After all, technology never benefits everyone equally and oftentimes create unintended victims. The following remark on illustrates one of these cases.

I've also had the good fortune to game with a tight-knit community of deaf MMO players that absolutely dread the coming of VC online, they feel like there's no disability, there's no stigma, there's no barrier. To them, guild-enforced teamspeak, let alone inherent voice chat, just puts all the barriers back up. It's truly upsetting to see the anguish this brings to them.



One possible reason to why less females have used VoIP could be to not reveal they are female. Less now than before, but a couple of years ago, I never told anyone about beeing a girl, since it got me a lot of unwanted attention.

Nowadays its not so bad, but it could still be a strong reason.

Posted by: Linda on April 4, 2006 6:18 AM

I think that the reason behind this could be one of many, however this is the biggest reason in my mind. A lot of players in these games are males, and like most males, we are attracted to females, the girls don't talk much because they want the "equality" in game, for instance, they don't want the "extra help" or charity or given things to "twink" them. I feel that they want to earn each thing in game and take great pride in it, just like the boys.

But thats just my 2cp

Posted by: Eric 60 Rogue 60 Druid WoW Elune on April 11, 2006 5:38 AM

In regards to VoIP usage by age, I would guess you will find that VoIP usage will always be slightly lower for 11-17 than 18+, if only because 11-17 year olds might not have the ability to acquire the necessary hardware.

Until, of course, the people who now have mics start having their own children. :)

Posted by: Mark on April 16, 2006 9:26 PM

I think VoIP has helped game play, but to be honest, i never thought of the discriminatory aspects of it. I do know that my guild is a "Vent required" guild, and i have found that it ended up excluding some people. I never thought of that as discriminatory, but now i'll reevaluate...

Posted by: Rynne 60 priest WoW Earthen Ring on April 17, 2006 9:19 AM

I second the quote from the guy who needed to reroll because he couldnt play his girl with a vent server up. HAHAAHA. It happened to me too, bro. And Ill never do it again. Well, maybe not Im really not sure. I dont mind the character but I put off getting VoiP because of the "immersion breaking" aspect of it.

Posted by: Ben on April 27, 2006 7:15 PM

Must admit i disagree that VoIP could be discriminating against a players due to age / ethnicity (well maybe thats just my guild but they would only be in guild a extremely short time if anyone did that) I myself have a very heavy accented english and my co-leader sounds like a 17 year old, make fun? yes offcourse if you cant take fun your not a real group of friends anyway.

The thing with males playing female chars and not using VoIP in all honesty the only reason i can see not to use VoIP would be if your ashamed of playing a female char ? I have 2 female chars myself quite a few other guild members the same doesnt affect us one bit. Perhaps you made some actions as a female char you are not too proud of?

Females not willing to speak over VoIP i do understand tho as there have been quite a few instances of a couple of male players harassing female players. (btw get a webcam and get your brother/friend to strip to his undies and offer the guy a webcam session it works wonders i garantee it tried twice never heard from either guy again)

Posted by: Henrik on May 7, 2006 7:25 AM

I love VOIP, though I feel its very sad when females refuse to use it because the un-flattering attention they get from some of the guys. Beyond that, I think its great having a whole mix of people on VOIP, it's a real tool in bringing people from varying walks of life together. One of the greatest inventions ever.

Posted by: Exarch on May 7, 2006 6:20 PM

Interesting article and comments.

I am a male with male main toons. The voip to me totally break any immersion whatsoever. Also one time had a person (was female that time) chat non stop for three hours about anything and everything. Ugh.

I understand the desire to have voip for raids and when I raid I listen in (I say hi but usually set microphone aside and just listen to instructions).

My friend does the same thing, and we have found the voip users (our friends) have increasing usage of it for easier and easier things. We feel it is used as a crutch.

However, when we go places - I'm not the one who has to type things in, so maybe that's easy for me to say, it's not costing me any typing.

Again, good article. :)

Posted by: Kevin on May 10, 2006 11:04 AM

My guild requires our members be over 18, and I would place the average guild age at the high 20's or low 30's. Many of our guild members are married with children, but we're quite eclectic. Our Ventrilo server was purchased to assist with raiding, but it's used extensively for grouping, and nearly any night you can find a large bunch of us hanging out in the "lobby" area, which I tend to think of as the Cheers bar, where everybody knows my name. We must be the exception to the rule....about half our guild, married or otherwise, is female, and there are very few people who don't join us on Vent at least some of the time.

The only downside that I can see to it is that the people who spend little time on Ventrilo do miss out on a large part of the guild's social life. A great deal of our social network is conducted in of my friends will get on and say "Party in Vent!" to tell the usual Vent crowd to log in, and he's only half-kidding...we really do have a lot of fun in Vent that doesn't carry over to guild chat. One of the things that I try to do is take new people in the guild and drag them kicking and screaming into the Ventrilo scene, because they will get much more out of the guild if they join us in Ventrilo. If they never know about our Ventrilo Cheers get-togethers, half the life of the guild isn't available to them. They're missing out, and they might end up feeling isolated because of it without even knowing why.

So far, with everyone being 18+, buying a headset has not been a problem. Getting them to use it has been slightly more difficult! But I'm persistent and patient =)

Posted by: Ashlian 70 Fury EQ2 on August 23, 2006 9:28 AM

If you are that type of person that likes to adventure alone in the virtual world, then VoIP makes no sense for you.
But if you are a raider and want to experience the full content of the game, which most of us do, then VoIP is a MUST. You can't raid high level instances with 10-25 people and expect to progress at a normal pace w/o using voice.
And regarding the immersion aspect of the game, it's really fun IMO to see a damn good tank for example, and then hear it on Ventrilo and find out he is a she. It only adds up to the fun of the game.
But for the ones that really want keep a hidden identity, there are a few softwares out there that can modify your voice and make cool effects for that matter.

Posted by: Peter 70 Hunter 70 Paladin Wow on February 22, 2007 6:32 AM

ok i seriously dont know where to start. I play this game because it's a game not because I want to make friends. If it was free then I would say hey let's all have a good time. As it is I am not planning on getting ventrillo because i dont want to spend the time to and furthermore it's screwing my higher char up because I think most other people are using it. It has forced me to make crappy toon's to actually have fun in the game. 62 Hunter

Posted by: Ian on September 3, 2007 12:19 AM

Has anyone done a survey on the percentile of 9-1-1 callers that are VOIP? Also, showing call areas.

Posted by: Martha on October 12, 2007 6:49 AM

I think it would be interesting to see how many people using VOIP actually talk on it, as opposed to just listening. You may be suprised at how many people don't talk for one reason or another.
Having an accent, being a young player (some feel that they could be less respected because of their age and higher voice) or even getting wierd looks from those around you (I mean, you look like you're talking to yourself lawl) can put people off.

Posted by: Elmo on June 12, 2008 5:57 PM
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