Why I don’t like voice chat

Headset with microphone - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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 isย  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.

11 thoughts on “Why I don’t like voice chat”

  1. 2, 3, 5: Check. You have no idea how much I’m agreeing with you here on these points.

    I obviously share no. 1 as well, but in a different way. Reading and writing – which touches no. 5 – Writing in English is much easier for me as the words just come into my hands. Speaking is no issue, thankfully (but don’t get me started on the Spanish “r” *sigh* The main reason I gave up learning that language as I knew I would never be able to actually speak it properly). But listening can be hard sometimes. Most of the time, I have an easier time understanding US-English than British English. But even then, speaking and listening takes much more effort and especially in the evenings after work, I’m just so tired from the day (brain-wise ^^), that it would be too much for me.

    • Good point about the effort it takes. That is another thing I forget we have to spend some brain power to speak/listen in another language. This can be specially hard if it we are also doing some intensive task in-game. There were times when I was tanking in EQ2 that I was  so concentrated at the task that there was little brain power left to do the work of listening and translating what people were saying in voice chat. Either I tanked or I listened to what they were talking!

  2. I’m glad you decided to post this after all, because it’s definitely worth a blog post of its own! I sometimes feel we’ve all become so used to voice chat that we forget that it’s not for everyone. This is a great reminder and explanation of that we need to consider the persons behind the characters we’re playing with.

    I also love the bits of extra info you put in here.


    P.S. You do realize that 2) is the case for everyone, right? It’s a known fact that because your own voice resonates in your skull, it sounds different (usually more warm) in your own head. The way it sounds on (good) recordings is actually how it sounds to other people – a terrifying thought, I know! Most people dislike their recorded voice.

    • Thanks! I decided to just write it, see if I liked it and then decide. You saw the result. :p

      And yes, voice chat is so prevalent nowadays that I if I am dealing with new people I try to make sure they are fine if I don’t use it. So far I haven’t found anyone that had any issue with it but it is always good to talk about it soon to avoid any problems, I think.

      P.S.: To tell the truth I didn’t know. I sucked at biology. It was one of my most hated subjects in my school life. So I grew up thinking it was just me! Thanks for clearing that up!

      • P.S. Don’t know if it was even covered in your biology lessons. My dad worked in the music industry and recorded a lot of things with singers (including me). We probably talked about it when I was still a child and noticed my voice sounded differently.

  3. I’m likewise a huge introvert, and tend to avoid voice chat unless I have to. This may seem ironic given we’ve done 252 episodes of OotiniCast at this point, but it’s never been in my comfort zone, and I only manage it because of the structure I impose. If I just had to chit-chat without any defined set of material to cover, I’d clam up!

    As you say, each to their own. I’ve never minded if a guild mate chooses not to come onto Mumble, though we encourage them to just listen even if they prefer not to talk.

    There’s PLENTY of loud people who just love the sound of their own voices. No need for us to add to that mix. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That is interesting. I always thought people who did podcasts/streaming/YouTube videos were pretty comfortable with it. I mean, it is a work of love why put yourself in a position that you don’t feel comfortable with it? But I guess like everything in life the answers to that are not that simple.

      In Everquest 2 I was fortunate to hang out with a bunch of people who were cool enough to let me just to listen them talking in voice chat and reply via text. They never really understood my reasons but they always respected my wishes. It was also kinda amusing because anyone who saw my replies would think I was speaking to myself. :p

  4. We never minded in EQ2. Well I didn’t, and I know others said from time to time they didn’t. I am not a social person myself. I know I can read french (if poorly ) wayy better than i could understand people talking when i went over to France years ago.

    Why I liked voice chat ๐Ÿ™‚ … cause it prevented a lot of those deaths by typing… a reply as the monster comes up and eats you, or you run off a cliff, or … you know what I mean.

    • Yes, I know, none of you minded it and I am eternally grateful for that. I also agree there are circumstances where voice chat can be pretty useful. Yet, I’d prefer to avoid using it if at all possible.

  5. You’re not alone on this, Rakuno. It’s far easier for me to text chat, and English is my natural language. (And I’ve done the same about pretending to know what someone said if I missed it)
    I personally like silence, as I like to observe than talk anyways, but sometimes I’m with people that seem afraid of silence, so they just keep talking. Or they have no inner monologue… :/

    • I like the silence too though in my case it is usually because I am lost in my own inner world. Although I admit there are moments where the silence does feel awkward. Though that tends to happen more in real life than in games, in my experience.

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