By Mark Ramirez
April 4, 2006
Voice chat provides an effective means of online communication. This article discusses the challenges
and benefits of voice communication in online games.
Online games have become rapidly popular over the last few years. In fact, it
has become a multi-billion dollar industry. These massive virtual worlds
provide a realistic, engaging environment in which people can play and
interact. It has been a fertile ground for gamers from all walks of life to
come together. As a result, these games have produced large and vibrant online
In these virtual worlds, you can choose an avatar or character that represents
you. The latest games offer the ability to customize these characters in
unlimited ways; you can change your character’s hairstyle, facial features,
size, weight, and clothing. How about the ability to change your voice to match
your online personality? That is currently not a standard feature in games. But
I do see technology stepping in and providing a solution.
Think of the possibilities: gamers could now change their voice to sound like a
troll, giant, dwarf or dark lord. They've spent many hours making their online
character to look a certain way, why not change their voice to match? It is
products like MorphVOX by Screaming Bee that can fill this need. MorphVOX is
voice-changing software specifically designed for online games. This tool
allows gamers to role-play more effectively. Not only can they look the part,
they can also have a voice to match.
Voice communication in games has been around for quite some time, but only
recently has gained popularity in online games. Much of this may have to do
with the increase in the number of people who now have broadband Internet
connections instead of dial-up. This provides the extra precious bandwidth to
cover an additional voice channel. As voice chat is becoming increasingly
prevalent in online game use, companies like Xfire, TeamSpeak, and Ventrilo
have emerged to meet the needs.
One company, Xfire, demonstrates the popularity of voice chat. Xfire provides a
free application that can be used by gamers to easily find friends online and
communicate in game. Starting in 2004, the company’s market share has rapidly
grown to almost four million users.
Many gamers are finding voice chat to be a superior way to communicate as
opposed to the slower process of typing messages on a keyboard. If a monster
jumps out, there is no need for fumbling with the keys when you need to shout
for help. Voice chat also lets gamers coordinate large groups of people
effectively in large raids.
What about role-playing and voice communication? There is some reluctance to use
voice communication in online role-playing games. Much of this issue stems from
the lack of good voice-changing tools in the past that can work effectively
with games. In addition, there is less control of good content on voice chat.
External noises, such as other people talking in the same room, are very
distracting and can’t be easily masked over a microphone. Also, some less
helpful gamers could use voice chat to taunt or annoy other people, who may be
unable to turn off an in-game voice channel. And role-playing over live voice
communication poses a challenge for most people of finding the right thing to
say at the right time. Most of us aren’t very good at extemporaneous acting –
improvising in real-time.
However, new RPG online games are providing in-game voice capabilities that are
adding a new life to role-playing. Many people are now starting to adopt voice
chat as an important part of their in-game experience. As games like this
become more common, I foresee brighter days ahead for voice communication. By
providing a rich auditory experience, voice chat will improve realism for
gamers. This is part of the never-ending process of adding more immersion to
these virtual worlds.
Copyright and Trademark Information: MorphVOX is a
trademark of Screaming Bee Inc.; Xfire is a trademark of Xfire, Inc; TeamSpeak
is a registered trademark of TeamSpeak Consulting, Inc.; Ventrilo is a
trademark of Flagship Industries, Inc.