Game and Listen: a Voice Chat Feature

Ahhh, that powerful communication tool people use in their everyday lives doing their everyday things. More specifically, voice chatting while playing video games. It’s a heaven-sent feature developed back in the ancient 2000s for the gaming community.

And everybody was happy back then.

Since its integration in gaming devices, players can team up with friends and strangers online and talk to them like they’re right beside one another, strategically planning their next move to conquer the next objective. Nice, right?

But with every pro comes a lot of cons.

Situation: your team is obviously losing, so you step in and try to be the leader, assigning position to players on the map, warning them of incoming attackers and whatnots. You know, what usual leaders do. But then, someone takes your advices too seriously and takes them as personal threats. Then another one rebuts and the whole voice channel becomes a mess of insults and curses.

Not only that. Because of voice chat, you can hear your twelve-year old teammates talk about how they made love with your mom last night. Or listen to that teenage dude singing off-key to his loud rock background music. OR get scared by that scruffy voiced adult guy shouting at you for playing worse than your usual, amazing self. Neat, huh?

It’s because of the general rudeness that has made gaming companies work hard to try to keep the online community as less toxic as possible.

Take Overwatch, for example. Jeff Kaplan, the game’s director, said that ill-mannered players are making him sad. His team has decided that to counter toxicity, they built report buttons in-game. This way, when gamers get too much of a bad reputation, they get silenced for a time. They won’t be able to use their microphones and won’t be able to chat with the other players in a match. And somehow, his system works. According to their research, trolling and being rude in their game’s community has leveled down a bit. But the problem not only plagues Overwatch. Saltiness has spread to most games with online services ever since the dawn of internet.

It’s inevitable, really.

There is one company though, who hasn’t made voice chatting with strangers easy: Nintendo. It’s way too hassle to set up communications with their online games that you’re actually better off with calling your friend via an alternative phone app.

How bad is it? Well, first you and your friend have to add each other’s million-digit (actually just 16) friend code. And on their newest portable/console hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, you have to download the Nintendo Online App and connect your headphones to your phone to stay connected to your friends online, which is kind of like using other voice communication apps. This also means you’ll only hear voice chat through your earphones when in docked mode, and when in portable mode, you need to have at least two pairs of ears to listen simultaneously to voice and game audio. Kidding. You can just purchase third party headsets with adaptors that connects your phone and Nintendo Switch together. Wired.

The tiresome nature of Nintendo Switch’s voice chat has led most gamers to opt out of using the feature while playing online games at all. However, no voice chat can also garner a lot of positives.

For one, when you’re an adult with kids, no voice chat with strangers means your kids are playing in a safer online environment. There have been numerous cases of children being tricked by adults who pretend to be younger online. Without voice chat (or any form of communication) to random players, parents can worry no more about the dangers of online predators.

No voice chat means you can focus on your play through. Instead of screaming at other gamers to git gud, you can just play better yourself and carry the whole team. Sure, it’s a pain on your shoulders, but wouldn’t it feel good to be the hero of the day?

Opting out of voice chat also means you won’t succumb to your angry teammate’s pressure when you’re playing worse than your usual, amazing self. Playing without telecommunications means peace and fun. You will never hear a single curse word unless you trash talk by yourself.

Voice chat is an amazing feature, but it can also be easily abused. It brings the best in team play, but also the worst in a person. The only way to avoid toxicity in online gaming is to start being better yourself. Play nice, play responsibly.