[MUD-Dev] Is difficult communication the barrier to community in MMORPGs? (fwd)

apollyon . apo11yon at hotmail.com
Sat Jun 15 12:07:12 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com>
>From: Patricia Pizer

>> The interesting twist to using voice in an MMORPG is that it can
>> not only break immersion but shatter it completely. Imagine, if
>> you will, the 12-yr-old Ogre saying, "Fear my l33t skills!" It
>> really doesn't maintain any fiction about who the player actually
>> is.

> Virtual worlds aren't all IC. :)

Agreed, and I've noticed an interesting phenomenon with using voice
communications in-game... it creates a new character.  At first when
you play in an online world, fighting alongside, chatting with, or
otherwise sharing the environment with other people, you build a
model in your mind of who a given individual is, typically tied to
the appearance of their avatar combined with your social
interactions.  When you transfer those interactions to a voice
medium, you are now faced with the burden of including the
newly-revealed "middle-aged French-Vietnamese who coughs a lot" into
your model of who the character is and it can be a bit jarring at

But in time, I've noticed that the new model actually becomes the
character. That new information is enfolded into the avatar and
bundled together to create a new charater in your mind.  It no
longer exists as a jarring, immersion-suspending feature, but rather
an incorporated, expanded model of the character that seems somehow
to fit just right.

Another result that I've noticed from this experience is that the
social bonds that are formed with the people you consistently
communicate with by voice tend to be much stronger than other social
bonds.  Perhaps that is because of the increased level of trust that
naturally develops from opening your "true self" to someone, letting
them see (or hear, in this case) the "real you" behind the keyboard.
And perhaps that is not for everyone.  Perhaps, as has been
mentioned, this type of communication is better suited to close
friends.  But I would disagree with anyone who says that voice
communication disturbs the feeling of immersion in an
environment... in fact, I would state just the opposite.  When
you're communicating by voice with others, you are no longer just
sitting behind a keyboard, pretending to be someone else.  You're
really there!  I mean, that "real you" is interacting on a much more
personal level with the "real him/her" of the rest of the world and
I think that tends to draw people MORE into the experience, not pop
them out of it.  True, it may at first jar you "out of character"
and momentarily disrupt the fiction that has been spun around
whatever online world you're in, but I think it serves to immerse
you that much more in the experience itself, the world, and the
social interactions that truly make the world live.

>From a grief standpoint, it decreases the sense of empowering
anonymity thereby increasing one's culpability for any actions and
decreasing the likelihood of grief play.  An added benefit.  :)


"You must be the change that you wish to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi
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