Recently Ravanel wrote on her blog about her experiences as a guest in a Star Wars the Old Republic stream. In there she pretty much explains why she prefers to blog rather than stream. Part of the reason being how exhaustive it is for her to use voice chat for hours. (Do go read her post, she explains it much better than I could in a paragraph).
I did end up commenting on her post with my reasons for disliking voice chat. Once it was finished I realized it was big enough to make a blog post and so with Ravanel’s blessings I decided to put it here too, with some editing and additions.
Now, just to be completely clear, I am not claiming that these are the reasons for everybody who hates voice chat. These are mine. Other people have their own reasons for that feeling. I also have nothing against anyone who likes to use voice chat. To each their own, as I always say.
With all that out of the way, here are the reasons I tend to avoid voice chat in games:
1) English is not my native language. Although I have no problem reading or writing on it, speaking and hearing are a different matter entirely. I often say that I am half-deaf for english because I can’t guarantee I will understand 100% of what another person will say. Specially considering the majority of people (including myself) use cheap microphones which results in a pretty low audio quality that makes it even harder to understand anything. Sometimes I will just even pretend to understand what the other person said, just agreeing to whatever it was, simply because I hate to ask people to repeat themselves. Yes, I know it is ridiculous, but that is how I roll.
As for speaking, pronouncing in any language has never been my strong point, even in my native one. In a language like english where the pronunciation of letters is not constant, this becomes even trickier. It is pretty common for me to imagine the pronunciation of a certain word to be one way only to find later that it was completely different!
2) When I was a child my brother and I had a tape recorder. As any young child I some times used it to play and tape silly stuff. The sound of my recorded voice never sounded right to me. I think that made me neurotic about speaking on any kind of device, be it telephone, microphone or whatever as I keep imagining my voice sounded somewhat distorted, with a ridiculous sound on the other side of the line.
3) I have a mild case of social phobia. Not enough that it prevents me to get out of the house and do what I need but enough to make me anxious in a lot of social interactions. One of those is speaking in the telephone. Or a microphone. And when you are tanking for you group, anxiety about speaking up is the last thing you want to have to worry about.
4) I am a huge introvert. The type that could stay quiet for 30 minutes, not because the company is bad, just because I don’t have anything to say. So I am not the best person to chit-chat in ventrillo, mumble or whatever voice chat program is popular nowadays. With text those long moments of silence doesn’t seem nearly as bad, specially when someone suddenly decides to break it.
5) Reading and writing always felt more natural to me. It is like when I am expressing through writing it is the “real me” that is talking while when I have to actually, physically talk to someone else, the words just come out of my mouth without even giving the courtesy to my brain of asking about their purpose. This means that I often will just talk only realizing what I said until it is too late. Most of the time this is harmless but some times I can sound like a real jerk when I didn’t intent to.
I will admit though to be a bit jealous of people who do streams, podcasts or YouTube videos. It seems fun and I wish I could do that too. It would also be nice when playing online games, specially when I am in a critical role like tanking. It would be easier to coordinate strategies in the middle of combat.
In any case, at the end of the day I prefer text over voice. It is just how I roll.