It’s oh so quiet… on voicechat

We’ve had a little flare-up on our LotRO kin forums over the last week, relating to how much chatter we have on our Teamspeak server while raiding. We can be a talkative bunch, many of whom raid to hang out with more kinmates and get involved in some kind of joint activity. Because of that we don’t always come across as a highly disciplined fighting machine – but we get things done, we’ve been very successful in our raids and we keep a nice, friendly atmosphere going. So when one respected kin member posted something about the chatter spilling over into messy fights, it caused a pause to think.

Now, I admit (and the person who posted knows it), my first reaction was ‘hell, if I can’t chat, I’m not raiding’, but instead of posting anything on a forum, I just let the debate unfold. We will never agree on the perfect mix of pure focus vs chit-chat, that’s for sure. But it also reminded me of things we’ve discussed before – how many of our kin aren’t native English speakers, how different people like different levels of talking and of course, on how often we veer away from the matter of the raid and could possibly distract from some of the fights. It’s compounded because Barad Guldur (our current final raid) isn’t the most interesting, especially during some stages of trash mobs.

Being quiet isn’t what I’m used to. I’m pretty good at multi-tasking, I know my class really well and I can listen, understand, and react fairly well to things. But I needed the forum post and subsequent arguments to snap me back to reality. My playstyle is NOT everyone’s playstyle. And for me to enforce it on 11 others is worse than anyone asking me to be a little quieter during key fights. We have people who need to bring alts to the raids, we have non-English speakers, we have those who don’t raid as regularly as I do, and people who are just plain quieter (I know, SHOCK!!). Why is it worse? Because I’d be doing it knowing all the above.

It also reminded me that forums, while immensely useful, really do fall foul of the same misunderstandings as any form of written communication. I went through a gamut of feelings reading the thread – all the posts being written by people I consider friends and second-family, and I am so so happy I chose not to take part in the discussion. And we all turned up to raid last night, not embittered by the argument, but able to joke about it. And not snide jokes directed at the person who’d raised the issue, actual proper and respectful jokes. In that moment, I was really reminded why I like hanging out with my kin and what great people they all are. I even renamed my Hope Banner to ‘Quiet’ because the game wouldn’t let me have ‘Shhh’ – my first choice as a librarian, naturally.

As it happens, we also did our best yet at the Lieutenant of Barad Guldur, so maybe there’s something to this focus lark!

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It came from the PUG: PUGs say the funniest things!

Something Arb and I noticed this week is that people seem to get chattier in Outland. Maybe there’s something in the water, but we’ve encountered a few people in level 70-80 instances who just wanted to hear the sound of their own virtual voice.

There was the guy who told the story about how his dad (some relative, I think it was his father) found a bear on his front lawn that had escaped from the zoo. Or the guy who ended up in several PUGs with us and quickly became our pet gnome (sorry gnome players, we all think of you as pets.) And the other guy who insisted on telling us his life story and particularly the great dramatic romance of his life. He was an emo kid, and she was a goth! Drama!

Arbitrary remarked snarkily, “So it’s like Romeo and Juliet, then?” (She likes to push the bounds of how sarcastic it is possible to be in chat without actually getting reported.) And proving his emo credentials, the rogue answered promptly, “No, it’s not like that because her parents like me,” proving that he actually knew the story of R&J and winning us both over instantly.

Now, if these guys had been dreadful players, it would not have been amusing. It would just have been another day of random PUGs. But they were both actually quite decent players, they just liked to run off at the mouth (keyboard?). Maybe they were lonely. Or just chatty. It’s probably very unfair of me to judge the same behaviour (random chatter) differently depending on whether the player is good or not.

Chatty groups do feel more friendly to me, but I don’t normally go out of my way to make conversation. Maybe it’s because I have enough friends in game that I don’t feel the need. I’m sure when all MMOs are new, groups are more expressive because a lot of people are looking to try to make connections. So it could be that these guys are either new players, or new to their servers, and using a similar stratagem to make friends. Or maybe they just spew stream of consciousness wherever they are anyway.

Do you like it when people spam chat in your instances, or is it just annoying? And has anyone else noticed that Outland instances become chatroom city?