Perhaps we just don’t want to talk to YOU

This is a great (non)news story in the games sphere. Yesterday gaming sites were reporting that Valve’s Chet Faliszek complained that my fellow brits are too quiet on voice chat.

“You guys are notorious non-talkers on both 360 and PC. Americans are just chattering away, working together as a team. If you want to work together as a team you’ve got to talk!”

So assuming this is the case, it’s either that Brits hate voice chat and never talk even to each other, or else there’s something else going on across the cultural divide.

I’ve never been big into shooters or the crowd who play them on consoles, but from MMO experiences I’d say we talk plenty. It’s quite likely that we’re  more reticent about talking to strangers than the average American, but Europeans in general  have a good reputation for being strong on teamwork.

But that doesn’t quite cover ‘notorious non-talker’. What could the issue be?

Chet added, helpfully:

You can go into a random 360 game on US servers and it’s crazy talk. It’s fun.

Right, there’s the answer. Crazy talk. Why do I want to log into a server to play a co-op shooter and be bombarded with some teenage american’s idea of crazy talk? Does that sound like fun? No. It does not. Especially when you take into account that American culture has a greater propensity to smack talk than we do here, particularly in competitive sports or games. It’s not that Brits aren’t just as racist, homophobic, or bigoted in other ways as their US counterparts (present company excepted), but there’s stuff we don’t say that they do.

If you check out the comments to the original post, you’ll see the predictable amount of UK vs US posturing, but in amongst it are a few more clues as to why the Brits might be wary of opening their mouths.

Getting told to ‘shut up limey’ followed by insults towards my family and/or any of the above, well, that’s just not fun, sorry.

I’m a female gamer in the UK and I barely ever use headphones and chat to random people when playing online because I know I’m going to get some stupid American kid spouting sexist (and racist and homophobic) nonsense at me.

I don’t bother talking to Americans ‘cuz everytime I do, they can’t understand a word I’m saying… I’m a brummie

You probably need to hear a Black Country accent to understand where he’s coming from with this. I had a mate at University who was from Birmingham (brummie), we all mocked him relentlessly. I’m not proud but I can see why the Americans might not understand this guy.

I will say that, all trash talking aside, the Americans I play with have the edge over any Brit gamers I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with. Many of the best l4d american gamers stick to tournament(gamebattles)and friends only games.These are the ADULT gamers that most Brits playing online will never run into. See, we hate playing with homophobic 13 year olds too.

So maybe the nicer US players are also playing with friends and not talking in random games. So they exist, but you’ll never run into them.

I’m more than happy to get on the mic & have a bit of banter. But more often than not there is either an abusive, American kid spouting crap, or some tool who thinks everyone wants to listen to his generic dance music down the headset.

I don’t mind playing americans but they do grate sometimes. Seems that alot of our banter goes right over the top of thier heads aswell.

problem is, is if you try to have a laugh with americans they don’t understand the humour, why? simple thy’re american, they only know they’re own culture

(and vice versa)

well i rarely speak ingame, unless i feel i need to tell someone why they are a muppet.

As a British gamer myself, I always wished my fellow Brits would speak up more during online games of Left 4 Dead.

this was one of my personal reasons why I switched my 360 for a PS3. Because on the PS3 your not obliged to talk as much if at all, you don’t feel like your missing the point if you never buy a mic.

I have come across some very nice US players. However these are often the quiet ones.

Now that’s some cultural bias showing right there. Being nice in UK culture is associated with being quiet and polite and cooperative.

Right at the end of the game (no spoilers here!) they all decide to start talking so it was impossible to hear the voice over and understand what the hell was going on. Why talk then!? Surely that’s the prime point to SHUT THE F**K UP!?

Americans talk, but they just talk about general crap. Usually nothing to do with the game in which they’re in.

So maybe we really are more reluctant to open up with strangers and just chat.

I suspect this is actually what Chet was getting at. And perhaps game devs need to consider how they can encourage strangers to bond in a game to build up that level of trust when there are cultural barriers involved.

Or just give us regional servers, age limited servers, or another way of team matching to increase the chance that you’ll end up in a game with people you feel comfortable chatting with.

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17 thoughts on “Perhaps we just don’t want to talk to YOU

  1. Are you upset about being called a “non-talker”? Is that an insult?

    I tend to leave voice chat if there is to much chatter I’m not interested in. I’m playing the game to play the game and not to listen to some strangers RL problems. Not my business.

    • No, not at all (although the Valve guy doesn’t sound as though he thinks it’s a good thing in those quotes).

      It just piqued my curiousity as a stereotype and I wanted to go a bit deeper to see what was behind it. And rather than just guessing, I like to see what actual gamers say in their own words because people can usually explain why they do or don’t do something if you just ask them.

  2. As an American living in Europe, I must say I would rather have the dry english humour I hear on chat than the 13 year old homophobic blatherings from someones’ badly raised offspring. Talk about lack of immersion, when they go off about how hardcore they would put the “smackdown” on some female toons, I kill the chat prog. All in all, I think the EU is working as intended and “US yanks” might do good to copy some of those mannerisms.

    • As a European living in the States, so would I. :D

      That female gamer’s comment chimes with my experience too. Even with people I (sort of) know, it can be difficult. The 1,000th rendition of “Oh your accent is so CUTE!” (or hot or weird or quaint) doesn’t make me smile, it makes me grit my teeth and yank my mic out. I don’t go around telling every American I meet that THEY have a funny accent, do I?

      Hrm. This irks me more than I realised. Thanks for posting this, Spinks. Food for thought.

  3. I’ve been on plenty of games with smack talking, racist homophobic British teenies who pump their generic dance nonsense down the tubes too. Moreso as I tend to play games that I can select local servers for (If there’s one thing I hate it’s playing a game on a server on the other side of the world, lots of lag)

    The problem with ‘age limited’ servers is there is no way of enforcing it effectively. Someone will always sneak through the net, and more often than not it’ll be a determined little smacktard looking to troll.

  4. First, before I go into detail: The guy is a bit exaggerating and glossing brutally over perhaps not really so different styles of voice communication.

    It has also to do something with age, I am not as used to it as younger Germans. Also notice who uses voice chat. LOTRO, DDO, EVE all have voice chat enabled ingame – but if people use voice chat at all, they rather use their invite-only own TS/Vent server than using an open for all voice channel.

    In general, I am an enemy of voice chat. Regardless if people are talking or not.
    It kills teamwork. Two players not on Team Speak 2? They can be thankful if the other three read their text and not get lost in their own babble.
    You are not on Team Speak? You won’t be part of the party. Unless you are the irreplaceable tank or healer, of course. :>

    Random stranger invites you to TS to kill a random world boss mob (you could basically smack it solo). Does he just want to chat to you? Why does he suddenly get so personal without having talked a word in normal chat to you? (It seems to be a german disease to require TS for everything by now. Interesting, it is much more rampant in WoW than in LOTRO. I suspect it is because LOTRO has a lot more 30+ gamers who are like me are not so much into TS!)

    I only accept voice chat for raids, I also think it separates even more than it connects. I know that voice chat does not connect more than a few people or it is just one-two dudes babbling over and over. Raids require voice chat discipline, i.e. ideally only the raid leader is talking and others only when necessary. I do not want the raid leader’s household or someone else’s kid, cat or acoustic feedback from a microphone.

    Our MMOs work with text. Text messages, text status updates, text damage numbers, the very foundation of our world is the underlying maths and letters to display the working of said mechanics.

    I also like international groups in Guild Wars. It is often hard for native speakers and foreigners to communicate over text, now imagine someone with a strong accent. I often have trouble to understand Germans from Saxony or Austria.

    And I cannot help, it destroys a lot of my imagination if the female elf hunter of which I know that she is actually a male speaks with a very base voice on TS. :)

  5. You’re born an asshole, whether your british or american. It doesn’t matter. But you tend to get more assholes within american servers because Americas youth love themselves just that little bit more.

    I love voice chat, I think it connects more then it seperates, sorry to disagree with you Longasc. I use ventrillo for a tight group of friends though so you know what you’re going to get everyday.

    Also, maybe MrValve doesn’t consider the fact that people may use private chat features instead of in-game? And like quoted, we proberly just don’t run into the nice american gamers.

    I’m sorry to say I’m part of an American community and many americans feel a need to talk about themselves more then the games itself.

    • What I think is that you probably get about the same number of assholes regardless of nationality. But it might be that cultural baggage means that brits are more likely to perceive americans as being assholes whether or not they actually are. (ie. being loud and chatty does not per se make someone an asshole.)

  6. Wow, that post and the comments sound like a total cluster****. :)

    One of the great dangers of the self-broadcasting capability of the internet is that eventually, you’ll say something as stupid as that valve guy and the people in that comments thread (the one quoted in the post, not the one here in splinksville. you guys are of course anti-stupid).

  7. I really like chatting. I’m glad that games now seem to come with excellent in-game voice programs and I’m sure this will become even more standard in the future.

    Some frustrations though:

    - spam. Verbal spam. Just non-stop rubbish about “i do dj-ing” or something while we’re trying to solve a complex game challenge (or while one person is bragging about his life and the rest of us are trying to solve the challenge while he slacks). A lot of people don’t seem to be able to play and talk at the same time.

    - politeness/pc-ness. I guess I’m very conservative but I don’t want people saying the N word when they see a Drow Elf, asking women if they’re on the rag whenever a female complains about something and so on.

    - bad audio set-ups. People who talk in a whisper so quiet I can’t hear them even with all sound off. People who crackle and distort. People who can’t cope with voice activation and thus echo other speakers.

    - irony. Having a dry English sense of humour is really hard on the internet, both for written humour and aural. Say something sarcastic like “don’t seem to be all that many of them” and you get a five minute lecture explaining to you as if you were an idiot that the 200 mobs attacking you is actually quite a lot.

    Puts me in the undesireable situation where I’m trying to reduce my irony output which makes me less witty in person while still blundering socially online.

    On the whole though I would say voice adds tremendously to the fun and I generally have a really good laugh with people I meet.

    I certainly enjoy playing with Americans more than Europeans because we have a common language. Saying something witty to a Bulgarian guy who only knows 50 words of English tends to bomb.

    All English groups are especially fun though because of common culture and humour.

  8. ^_^ Well.

    When PUGs in WoW (nonraid) asked me if I had vent, I used to lie and say, no.

    American server, make what you will of it!

  9. “but Europeans in general have a good reputation for being strong on teamwork.”

    eheh
    heheheh
    HA!
    HAAAAAA HAHAHAHA! HA! HA! HA! HAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    AHHHH! HAHA HAHAHAHA! choke gasp wheeeeeeeeze..
    HAAAAAAAAhahahahahaha!

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