I like to think of myself as the strong, silent type in online multiplayer situations. When I’m not playing with people that I know, I generally keep to myself. I often don’t even bother wearing a headset. However, there are times when silence isn’t a choice: non-verbal communication is often enforced by practical, technical, or design choices. There’s no denying the convenience of being able to speak directly to one’s fellow players. Even so, some of my most memorable experiences in multiplayer communication have involved very few words.
Voice chat is a well established feature in video games, but it is by no means ubiquitous within the online population. Unlike Microsoft, neither Sony nor Nintendo has been proactive about giving their online communities voices. Similarly, while it is reasonable to assume that PC players would have microphones, compatibility issues and a myriad of VoIP clients don’t guarantee the kind of standardization that comes with the Xbox Live’s system and bundled microphone. Multiplayer game developers must face the fact that a portion of their audience will not be able to speak to one another.