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Nov 24, 2006



I think even this observation:

First off, we have the empirical observation that the punters love it and are rushing to use voice.

isn't fully accurate. I'd say, rather that certain types of players are rushing to use voice. Among the ones I have observed:

- highly instrumental players who demand high levels of coordination
- some sorts of socializer types -- what I'd call "chatters" rather than "conversationalists"

This is far from encompassing all types...


I actually asked the women in my guild why they never talk in Vent. The answer was very straight-forward. They get hit on. A lot. And usually by 16 year old boys.

Doug, 40/M/Los Angeles. Now will you please stop asking, Dan?


Great thoughts, Dan. I think it's interesting to consider the paradox that voice (in any arena for interaction) creates. On one hand, to have at one's disposal the range of expressive possibilities that voice (through language, and not) entails seems like a boon; one can, it would seem, do more socially. At the same time, the introduction of voice (assuming no effective voice alteration software) closes down a whole range of other performative possibilities, because voice socially "locates" people so powerfully (like those darned Australians). So it's no wonder that players are ambivalent toward it (when considered as a whole). The instrumental uses of it are undeniable, however, so afficianados of roleplay may have to look wistfully toward the day when you can choose your toon's "voice" as easily as its appearance.


Thomas> afficianados of roleplay may have to look wistfully toward the day when you can choose your toon's "voice" as easily as its appearance.

I happened to come across this when looking this afternoon at some EvE-related stuff. It's from a discussion about the provision of voice inside EvE, delivered by a company called Vivox and to be rolled out soonish:

"Monty's final point was the inclusion of 'voice fonts'. "What does a Caldari sound like?" Fonts would allow any character to place an overlay of sorts over their own voice, to make them sound different than their normal tone. Pimply-faced adolescents everywhere, rejoice!"

So maybe RPers don't have to look wistfully for too much longer. Although of course this raises all sorts of other issues, for example empirical questions about the uptake of voice fonts, the issues of "Y, presenting X" that we've seen in gender issues in MMOGs, and so forth. Interesting times.

Doug> Doug, 40/M/Los Angeles. Now will you please stop asking, Dan?

Thanks for the ASL. Are you currently seriously involved? How seriously, exactly?


Random comments:

- As I recall, "Voice fonts" was TM-ed by a text-to-speech company. I don't remember which. Thus, voice-font in terms of voice disguise is a misnomer. Voice-font in terms of text-to-speech is a trademark violation.

- (Fe)male to non-human is easy.

- Female to male, male to female - This works, but isn't perfect. In other words, it's detectable so people will guess that the female character is a male player, or vice versa.

If you look on http://www.mxac.com.au/m3d/tts.htm, at the bottom of the page under "Modified voice", and click on "Female (change formants and pitch)", you'll hear text-to-speech based on my voice (available elsewhere in the page) that's made to sound as female as I could make it.

- Getting rid of dialects - Text-to-speech will do this, but then whoever wishes to hide their dialect will need to type, not speak. The typed text will be converted to speech by text-to-speech. If speech recognition is used to avoid typing then there will be too many speech recognition errors.


Dan Hunter>Richard's essay on this was called "Not yet, you fools". I wonder if today's response is "Yet. And yes, we were fools."

People were saying that when I wrote the essay, so no change there.

By the way, something I didn't mention in the article was that there were at the time at least two patent applications I was aware of to cover using teamspeak/ventrilo type technology for games. I don't suppose they were granted, but it wouldn't surprise me if the first large-scale virtual world to integrate real-time speech with gameplay found itself the victim of some other patent we haven't heard of yet.



Shrug - in the Eve corp I'm a part of, you need to be able to listen to participate in fleet opps. Taking is only an absolute requirement for the fleet leader and scout(s).


As of this week's patch, Eve is (partly) integrating Vivox's voice chat into the client. (As a premium service and causing issues with other voice services even if not activated, but let's NOT go there...)


Proviso: This post is not about RP (but see #3 below).

Having recently finished an experimental study of voice vs. text in WoW, I can offer some empirical findings. If/when the thing gets published, I'll post and link a draft for it, complete with graphs, squiggly lines and significance tests. Major findings:

1) The evolutionary psych crowd seems to have it right. The functions of voice occur for humans in this order: Are they really human? What is thier gender? Are they intelligent? and Do I like them? In other words, ASL isn't too far off, and appears to be driven by biology first, then moderated by medium.

2) Female players do indeed have more "broken microphones" than their male counterparts to avoid sexist behaviors in largely male space.

3) Players who use voice come to like each other more and become closer. Compared to a text-only control group, they develop higher levels of trust, liking and happiness, and lower levels of loneliness. So, with all due respect to the magic circle, it's clearly worth breaking.

4) Players playing without voice suffer *losses* in trust, happiness and liking as a normal outcome of long-term WoW play (Wow-nnui?). In other words, the default game social tools or game mechanics might actually break down community quality and psychological health in the long term. That's a tentative finding, but looks legit. Please don't flame me!

The theories that support these findings come from the CMC research and sociology. The former (mainly Walther) suggest that people use whatever communications media they have access to in order to make social and task-based progress, i.e. humans are social and adapt. The latter (mainly Goffman and Meyrowitz) suggest that people take pains to moderate how much of their private, "backstage" behavior others can see. Thus "broken" mics, voice fonts, etc.


erm wat is dis .. mind explainin it 4 us illeter8 gaming peeps n those hu dnt get wht ur on about

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