Do people usually play online multiplayer games with voice chat on?
October 12, 2015 8:04 PM   Subscribe

I play online multiplayer games with all other players' mics muted. Am I in the minority or majority? Am I missing out on some useful strategy conversations or a lot of banal name-calling?

I don't play a lot of multiplayer games, but I usually turn off voice chat immediately. I don't play with a microphone and I don't have a good speaker setup, so I can't really pick out people's voices from the usual video game sounds. If I'm playing with people I know, we'll just call each other with our phones - and it helps a lot. But is playing on public games with other players muted a normal thing? Are other players trying to coordinate tactics over a dead line?

I've been mainly playing Rocket League, but is it different for other games (MMORPGs, shooters)?
posted by meowzilla to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: To not answer your question: I think it really depends on the game and the community. If the community is hyped up kids spewing endless slurs, turning it off is normal. If the game or community is more thoughtful and communication is valuable, then it's different.

To maybe answer your question: I'm not familiar with Rocket League, but I think that people having voice muted is at least common enough in almost all games that people trying to coordinate tactics over voice are either aware of the possibility that voice is muted and they act (or text) accordingly, or else their grasp of tactics and communications is probably not worth paying attention to :)
posted by anonymisc at 8:25 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

While I don't know about Rocket League, in my experience (World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, Heroes of the Storm), if you know the people and there's a lot of strategy going on, yes. If you don't actually know them, not so much. (Although TF2 does have a bunch of servers where you may want to speak, I turn all that off and just do my own thing and communicate via text.)

Generally, the more complex the game and/or strategy, the better chance this is expected. And if you actually know the people well, that'll add to the expectation as well.
posted by juliebug at 8:53 PM on October 12, 2015

My husband plays Destiny, and I have NO IDEA how anyone could complete raids, etc, without talking to each other or at least listening & following instructions. It seems so insanely complicated & from what I've watched, each person has to do really specific things.
posted by peep at 8:54 PM on October 12, 2015

I play Workd of Tanks. I never talk in a game (mostly because I'm female and not interested in shit) but I keep the sound on and find it useful to hear other players, and I can indicate that I'm hearing by reacting to their questions/instructions with the signalling options. Better players do a significant amount of coordination over voice but its relatively common not to have a microphone.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:59 PM on October 12, 2015

I find that an overwhelming majority of people do not, although my sample size is somewhat limited, recently - half a year of Destiny on xb1. so I think most people assume the line is dead and don't bother. (and in Destiny at least, you will never hear other players' voices unless you do have a headset connected, muted or not)

at first I found this funny/odd, since every xbox, for a long time now, comes with a chat headset by default. and since in certain games, good communication of tactics/strategy/status can, no - does, make an enormous difference. so, initially I kept thinking, "what the hell is wrong with you people?!"

on preview: yes, peep, exactly. it's not always even those crazy complicated things, it can be simple stuff like "hold on while I switch xyz gear" - "wait I need to run out there and scrape for ammunition" - "DO NOT come resurrect me / come resurrect me RIGHT NOW" etc. etc. which even so small can make major differences.

and so, aside from playing almost daily with 2 very close friends/family on my fireteam, where we feel not only safe but also quite happy to always voice chat - in the past 6 months there has been only 1! single instance where one random person chatted with me on a random-matchmaking-type mission. which at first was nice until the person turned out to be clueless of tactics and really only wanted to ramble on about personal info.

(all this after years of Steam, where I only ever played with close friends, and even then we only communicated by onscreen text - but that text-chat? we did constantly and every single time.)

but I can also get reasons for not wanting to, for those of us who are actual-human-beings.
- racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny (MSFT actually polices this pretty well on XBL - in the few cases where enough people actually report the offending player. I imagine similar situation on Sony/PSN. it has been improving, but there still remains massive room for change.)
- 12 year olds throwing tantrums (oh dear lord, I wish I was joking*)
- people who are tone-deaf/annoying/unsocialized etc. and constantly talking unrelated nonsense.
- simple fear/distrust of strangers. or avoidance of interaction, conscious or otherwise.

*this was not from random matchmaking, but in cases of being joined up with friends-of-"friends" - most of whom have now been blocked. (although these kids can on occasion be quite hilarious. also, they are about 700x better than me at the game.)
posted by dorian at 9:01 PM on October 12, 2015

i play a dying mmo combat flightsim. the diehards have mostly been flying it for years and have a specific team-oriented culture that is entirely dependent on TeamSpeak. I hate using voice comms in the era the sim covers and won't do it. I cannot compete effectively in the online spaces dominated by the TeamSpeak pilots.

So... yes, you can not use voice in MMOs. It will reduce your player effectiveness.
posted by mwhybark at 9:48 PM on October 12, 2015

I played a few MOBAs a while ago, but I have no experience with Rocket League. I noticed as a novice, no one really talked. However, as I advanced in rank more strategy and communication was needed and expected. Even if I didn't talk (and as a woman, I often didn't) it was super helpful to hear my team mates. Unfortunately, the verbal/text abuse and general negative attitude also increased While all the MOBAs I played were quick to blame when something went wrong (I currently won't touch competitive co-op), some had far less offensive verbal/text harassment than others.

Rocket League looks ridiculous so maybe the crowd's different. Every game community is unique and in a few games I've found a small community within the larger I get along with well. I've made some great friends from gaming. Years ago, I eventually found servers on Team Fortress 2 that I enjoyed the communication and felt comfortable talking rather than just typing. On the other hand, I'm currently playing Killing Floor 2 and very few people talk. While I was dreading being matched with random team mates, I've been impressed with the low annoyance ratio.

I love playing co-op with friends and chatting. We're often each others eyes and just knowing the other player's location improves our play. I can tell in KF2 when another small group is talking among themselves, they behave far more efficiently. And it's fun to celebrate and laugh at our defeats together. I wish it was easier to find healthy communities with random public games.
posted by SometimesChartreuse at 9:55 PM on October 12, 2015

I play a bunch of mobas, specially heroes of newerth. I always have have comms on to start and unless someone's a real asshole will always leave them on. It's so useful to hear someone's missing in lane or that there's a good time to gank.
posted by Carillon at 11:39 PM on October 12, 2015

I've played a lot of MMOs, and I find that my use of voice chat always depends on my guild situation. If I'm in a guild with people I know in real life, I'll hang out on voice chat pretty much full-time. If I'm new to a guild of strangers, I'll get on voice chat at first so they know I'm legit, but otherwise I prefer to only voice chat during raids or other group activities. My partner is different; he likes to be on voice chat almost constantly.
posted by neushoorn at 12:11 AM on October 13, 2015

I play multiplayer a lot and the only time I ever use voice chat is if I'm also playing with friends. I never chat with randoms.
Regarding picking up voices over game sounds, I use a decent cheap headset so you get the voice chat in one ear and the game sounds from the regular TV speakers.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:00 AM on October 13, 2015

Best answer: RiotLyte, an academic working on League of Legends community management, has said a fair amount about voice chat. You might find these two answers interesting: Why isn't voice chat implemented into the game? Will voice chat ever be an option? and Not sure why players think we're against voice chat. There's more in this podcast. Long story short, Riot sees voice chat as potentially causing problems so has not implemented it. As a counterfactual I believe DotA 2 has voice chat. I don't know how it's used.

I always mute voice chat from strangers. Particularly on Xbox, where it used to be quite a challenge to figure out how to do. The last thing I want to do is listen to a 15 year old yelling in my ear calling me "faggot" and describing his fantasies about my mother. I frequently suppress text chat in LoL too; I play much better if I mute people the moment anything they say makes me feel any sort of negative emotion,
posted by Nelson at 1:32 AM on October 13, 2015

I think it depends on both people's individual tendency toward social interaction, as well as the game situation.

When I played a lot of WoW (a LOT...) I was almost always on voice chat, because I loved the social aspect of my guild and wanted to become friends with them. If I wasn't in my own guild chat, I might be doing something communication-intensive with another group, which would benefit from us all being able to speak to each other. Many groups even require you to join their voice chat server to participate (as in a raid, or something of that nature), though most of the time you'd just be required to be able to listen to the group leader to take direction, and not need to speak.

In PvP type action, you'd definitely want to be able to both speak and hear other members of your group, as there's a lot of back and forth with communication and the need to do things quickly. This is mostly the case with RTS/MOBA type games as well, where there are other live people you're playing against, and you need to be reactive.

One caveat, though, if the connection is staticky or someone has left their mic on so it reverberates, I'll mute it or say I'm going AFK. I really dislike voice chat technical difficulties.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:21 AM on October 13, 2015

I have friends on an MMO where we use it as a virtual hangout. We take a break and find a scenic spot to sit down and chat.
posted by yoHighness at 5:53 AM on October 13, 2015

Read an interesting article recently that one of the reasons women's presence in gaming is so under estimated is that women tend not to use voice chat, to avoid the shit that comes with it. My husband jokes he played with a Wow Gould for almost two years before he going out a fellow guild mate was female, because she finally felt
confident enough to speak in voice chat.

posted by wwax at 7:09 AM on October 13, 2015

Just to address specifically Rocket League: you aren't missing anything. I actually have ALL the chat turned off unless I'm playing with someone I know.

In my experience very few people use voice chat in Rocket League PUGs and fully 80% of the people who do are completely unintelligable. It just ends up being a loud burst of noise that distracts me.
posted by selfnoise at 7:44 AM on October 13, 2015

I am a woman. I tend to drift in and out of MMOs but I have played large amounts of console multiplayer cooperative games, notably Mass Effect 3 and Payday 2.

I usually leave text chat on in PC games unless it becomes problematic in some way.

In PUGs with randoms, I do not use voice chat. While most gamers are lovely, there is a strident minority who are terrible, and I prefer not to gamble on that in my precious gaming time.

In games with friends, I use it heavily and it makes the experience significantly better because of the way we can coordinate tactics (aka HELP I'M PINNED DOWN/oh crap there's a banshee on the top floor/I need a safecracker in the jewelry store/I've used all my stealth charges/I'm dropping an ammo bag by the armored car) and also just hang out and socialize.
posted by oblique red at 3:08 PM on October 13, 2015

In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive it depends on the game mode, but generally it's assumed that most people will be able to hear voice chat (it defaults to on). Muting individual players is easy enough and can be done in-game with just a couple clicks.

In two of the casual modes, Deathmatch and Arms Race, tactical communication is near-useless anyway, so voice chat is mostly used for off-topic conversation, mic spamming music, and shit talking. Not receiving voice would not impact the gameplay in any meaningful way. In the other two casual modes, Demolition and Casual Classic, tactical communication is useful. But because both teams can hear voice chat, most tactical communication is done through team-only text chat and voice is again mostly off-topic or spam or shit talking. Not receiving voice chat wouldn't make a difference in how you play these modes 99% of the time. Hearing other people use the mic is actually somewhat rare in Deathmatch, Arms Race, and Demolition; Casual Classic seems to attract the chatterers.

Competitive Classic is a different story. Communication is a huge part of being an effective team. Voice chat is limited to teammates only, even teammates who have already died that round. Text chat is too involved to send a message (basically you can only do it while dead or standing still), inconvenient to keep a constant eye on, and too subtle to ensure an emergency message is received. Not receiving voice chat greatly hinders your ability to be a good teammate in the way most people have learned to work with (not having/using a mic is way more common). It's not impossible to play without receiving voice, but you need teammates who are willing to work with it. Vote kicking a "deaf" teammate would generally be considered acceptable, IMO.

tl;dr: Voice should be on in CS:GO's Competitive mode, but it's unnecessary in the casual modes.
posted by clorox at 7:23 AM on October 19, 2015

Another Riot Lyte comment on voice chat.
These are known problems with voice chat and these issues exist in every game. If we do voice chat, we'd like to try some new features to tackle these problems but right now, all our development teams are focused on other priorities.
posted by Nelson at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2015

« Older My Macbook has been inexplicably been freezing   |   Dating in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.