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Playing With Others: Silence is golden

12:00 PM on 01.10.2009 // Tubatic

[Editor's note: Tubatic talks about not talking in multiplayer games for his Playing With Others piece. -- CTZ]

I'm the guy that likes to play multiplayer without voice chat.

You know, its not that I don't like people. People are cool. I really do enjoy getting to know people in general. But for the most part, I don't want to participate in headset banter. In some circles, one might label me a jerk.

Don't get me wrong though. I'm not a complete tool. If I'm playing something that involves heavy strategy or tight verbal coordination, I'm throwing on the headset, no question. Call of Duty or Left 4 Dead would be a generally disastrous experience without voice chat. When strategy is necessary, I'm there with you. But, considering that necessity, I'll probably not be the guy you'll hear too often over the chat channel. 

There are some games, however, that don't need voice chat, and I love them for it. Beat'em ups and fighters are two games genres that really don't need any sort of major verbal communication to remain competitive or fun. Firing up a multiplayer match of Turtles Arcade or Castle Crashers without my headset is a joy that I revel in when I get the chance. Smashin' is smashin', and nary a word need come betwixt me and my better-than-bots buddies.

Non-verbals in these games are down right classy to me. If I'm low on health, and a guy sidesteps a delicious mutton chop so i can grab it, it shows enough communication and respect for me to still enjoy the game, without belaboring the obvious point of "Food's right here, man!" All I really need is my game, and someone on the other end that doesn't require the burden of conversation to have a good time whacking goons upside their heads. On the versus fighting end, I don't require trash talking to get into the competition. In Soulcalibur IV, desperate attempts at teabagging or overkill hits are enough for me to get your meaning.

Running silent also affords, in some cases, a chance to communicate through actions. This can be sometimes more genuine and endearing than any spoken or typed conversation. World of Warcraft, for example, allows no meaningful language based communication between the two factions. They simply can't understand what the other is saying. However, there are some limited emotes that are understood in all cases. Its a great moment expressing support to another character through he actions of assisting their quest progress, or presenting them with a bow or salute in respect of their non-interference. Again, there's a level of civility and nobility in making your point here without speech.

Beyond ideas of stoicism, brevity, or focus, I just have a lot of fun playing on silent. For most of my gaming life, I've been a single player. However, some of my most memorable moments have been experienced in the multiplayer space. For me, playing multiplayer without voice is the best of both worlds. I'm losing myself in the action of a game, but still pitting myself with and against players that are far more intelligent and reasonably skillful than any coded AI based opponent.

Get it?

So please, its nothing personal. Sometimes, its just more fun when you're quiet.

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