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Why Voice Chat Should Be Removed from Xbox Live (sort of)

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Online gaming represents the culmination of a lot of pipe dreams from a gamer’s early childhood.  How great would it be to play someone other than my close friends in games like RBI Baseball?  How about paying a little extra to play more of a favorite game I’ve already beaten?  In the 16-bit era, ideas like these were “pie in the sky” at best and straight out of science fiction at worst, but now with the huge leaps technology has taken those same ideas have come to fruition.

A natural biproduct of these advancements was not only the ability to play with or against someone thousands of miles away, but to actually talk to them.  Voice chat has been the icing on the cake ever since online gaming took shape in the console realm.  It lends itself to all types of communication in the form of strategy, teamwork, and the occasional smack talk.  That’s essentially what most civilized people would utilize it for.  Unfortunately chatting during a game on Xbox Live has become a breeding ground for all kinds of negativity and not a whole lot of good, clean fun.  In fact, it’s entirely safe to say that it’s rarely used for its intended purpose and instead serves as a soap box for bigots and racists, and it’s time for us to face the reality that voice chat is simply not worth it anymore.

Take any popular game as a sample, such as Modern Warfare 2 or Halo 3.  Play any number of matches and the communication that takes place is almost always either nonexistent or in the form of hurtful and unnecessary remarks.  For whatever reason, the logic doesn’t bear out that gamers would take advantage of voice chat to collaborate with teammates or send a few innocent verbal jabs to their opponents.  The reality is that gamers want to experience the game their way and occasionally with friends.  Most people just don’t care to interact with strangers, they’re more concerned with how they themselves are playing the game.  Arguably gamers are missing out on the best of what voice chat has to offer, but regardless this is the choice we’ve made.

Just think before using

If teamwork and good natured competitive remarks don’t take place very often on Xbox Live, then all that’s left is the negative remarks made by misinformed individuals who know nothing better than to vent their life’s frustration towards a group of people that don’t care to hear it in the first place and wouldn’t offer to.  If you’re a white male (the demographic least likely to ever be offended) like myself try to imagine being say, an African-American, logging on to play a few games and have a good time, only to be greeted by unwarranted and unprovoked racial slurs delivered by people you’ve never met.  Regardless of what race or sexual orientation you are, you can’t help but admit you would seriously consider logging off and might even hesitate to play in the near future.

Of course, eliminating voice chat entirely from Xbox Live would be a knee jerk decision and a case of “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”  You don’t eradicate something every time it doesn’t work the way you want it, you work on it and ultimately fix it.  This can be done with voice chat by one simple action on the part of Microsoft:  Only enable voice chat between players that are on each other’s friends lists.  Why?  Because let’s face it, that’s all that most people use voice chat for anyways when they’re online.  As has already been discussed there is almost zero teamwork and any other comments are angry, over the top, and often times biased.  Creating an environment where people have 100% control over who they interact with makes perfect sense and has little downside.

But what would the downsides be?  Well, it would be more difficult to meet new people that you wished to play with in the future.  On the other hand is it really so bad if instead you simply had to send someone a friend invite after they played a good game?  If they accept it the same purpose is served and if they don’t they obviously didn’t intend on playing with you in the future.  Sure they don’t get to hear your voice, but are you really worried about your personality not being able to shine while playing a video game?

If you absorb your idea and picture it being implemented I challenge you to find a glaring downside.  The most you will sacrifice is one match with a new friend due to it taking at least one match to deem them worthy of an invite.  That’s it.  You hardly suffer at all and every single rude and hateful remark that would have hurt someone’s feelings is gone.

I’m sure using the word “feelings” paints me as a bleeding heart to some of you, but you’re not who I’m worried about.  I’m speaking on behalf of the people that ARE bothered by these remarks and possibly even hesitate to play games online.  I defy you to argue that voice chat on Xbox Live isn’t primarily a source of hate and is in fact a great community where we all have fun and work together.  It simply isn’t the case.  I like most others thought that it would be but if this is how gamers as a whole are going to utilize it there’s absolutely no reason for it staying the way it is.

PS-To the people that say “just mute the person,” you’re obviously not capable of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

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  1. BLaacKeN
    March 19, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Mute the people and get over it.
    Xbox would suck if this was taken away.

    • March 19, 2010 at 8:37 pm

      Do you have a lot of conversations with people that aren’t on your friends list? If so, is it about strategy? I’m just curious because I find that most people don’t fall into that category. I don’t have to get over anything, and I don’t know if you have young kids who play on Xbox Live but given that most people don’t “talk to strangers” on there I don’t think it would be that big a deal to eliminate what’s basically a bunch of white noise that contains a lot of racism, etc.

  2. May 2, 2010 at 12:04 am

    lol amazing info bro.

  3. warbane19
    July 23, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    This is actually true, I personally want to work together with people and use voice chat to an advantage, not hear people whining about how they died in halo. Voice chat is a great tool, but too many people don’t realize its potential

    • July 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks for posting, I totally agree. It’s certainly not used in the way it was first intended. Jump into a game of Modern Warfare 2 right now and I’d be anyone $1000 no one is strategizing on their team. Heck you can even take the initiative and start communicating and there’s a good chance no one will respond. On the other hand you’re much more likely to hear a 13 year old kid singing an annoying pop song or worse, racism and the like.

      • Lanyablo
        January 26, 2011 at 6:47 am

        Hey , if anyone wants to have a good time gaming in a friendly environment and more work towards strategy then get yourself in a clan … play with people on your friends list more often . just jumping on a game with a bunch of randoms is like throwing you in a battlefield with no one you know. you cant stratagize if you dont know anyone elses way of playing and theres a thing called a mute button for those who annoy you

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