Greedy Goblin

Monday, August 29, 2011

The curse of voice chat

If I had any doubts that voice chat is the single biggest threat to the a-social ideas practiced by my guild, I'd be sure now. Some players in the guild figured out that they are from the same country and set up their own voice chat. I learned about it later, but of course only as a form of gossip. I had no means to stop them using voice chat or even proving that they do. However it shouldn't make me ignore it. I should have prepare for the inevitable drama, and maybe do some preparations, like benching as many of them as possible.

It all exploded after a Baleroc farm wipe. The cause was simple: decimate phase, one decimate bought the tank to 10%, so the healers had to bring him to 90% in 5 seconds. He was at 85% when the next decimate hit. Two healers were assigned to the tank in that phase, I was on the shard-men. One healer healed 48% HP, my remaining riptide, ES and healing stream healed 5%. 80-48-5 = 28% That's how much the other healer had to heal to keep the tank alive. He healed 23%, less than half of the other healer. He was holy priest who landed zero flash heal or greater heal in the 5-seconds period. He landed a "heal" (slow and small but very cheap heal) though.

So far, not a disaster. I don't even charge fail gold for rotation issues as they are not something you can especially watch out like the "don't ninja the shard". You are either skilled enough or not. If not, we give tips, help, if you still can't perform, we replace you. Happened before many times without problems. So all I expected was to explain him his mistake and remind to spam strong heals in decimate.

I wrote this down, but couldn't even hit enter before he went all berserk on the tank that he is a noob and his reforge is shit and he is a failbot. Then he HS-ed out. I told him that I have no tolerance for ragequitting kiddies, so he comes back now, apologizes the tank and heal properly in decimate or he'll be banished from my raids (which are unfortunately all the raids in the summer).

He kept on making his show on the guild chat. The raid couldn't continue as everyone was busy theorycrafting (very productively though, I know warrior tank in and out now) to disprove his raging. Finally it turned out that the tank had sub-optimal reforge, losing him 0.25% (one quarter percent) avoidance due to diminsihing returns. Since it was obvious that 0.25% more avoidance would give exactly 0.25% chance for the tank to avoid the fatal decimate, which is quite slim, the ragequitter started seeking other reasons: the tank is undergeared (358). We are all undergeared (the other healer really had worse gear than him, still healed 2x more in the 5 seconds). We need better communication via voice chat (because there is much to communicate during decimate). Nothing worked on him, so there was nothing left for me than again and again tell that he must apologize the tank and the raid for his childish tantrum if he ever want to raid here again. He then came up with the nonsense that he will make his own raid and will do better than I (good luck finding a tank for that after you rage one on /g for your own mistake).

Now why would I blame voice chat instead of just make a mental note "probably 14" and /ignore? Because he wasn't always like that. I mean he was never the best healer, but he never made problems. He was open to discussion and was clearly improving over the weeks. He never made any form of drama. However their personal little voice chat bought the sociality into my guild, at least to this circle in several forms.
  • Impressing friends: he was heal #1 overall. Of course all it meant that he was pushing his pair to overheal when it did not matter and went OOM. If I'm in pair with a druid, I just spam the most effective heal outside decimate/inferno to conserve mana and minimize overheal. Of course I'm last in the meters this case. But my tank is happy and alive.
  • Protecting face front of friends: he did not want to say "yes, I used the weakest heal in decimate, I won't do it again". What will his friends think?! The main concept of the a-social guild is that you don't consider the others friends so you ignore their opinion.
  • Feeling special snowflake: the sheer idea that he failed was inacceptable to ho him. So he blamed the only possible person, the tank. This is now the level of Arthasdklol. Of course it comes from "my friends love me, I must be special".
  • Feeling friend-support: they may or may not told him that he is right, but the simple presence of friends made him feel strong. So he did not back off when I told him, but kept coming up with bigger and bigger idiocies to keep fighting. Finally he reached the totally deluded point that in the summer when we are having problems filling one raid, he can make his own and do better.
The people in the guild are not special snowflakes, nor natural born geniuses.  They work hard to be good and joined this guild because they believed that my a-social system helps them getting rid of the ape-subroutines holding them back. When these guys sneaked voice chat back, they discarded the a-sociality, and since the guild has no attendance or class leaders, they discarded the only thing that differentiate us from xXdarkgnomkillahzXx. The result was inevitably the same as the raid of xXdarkgnomkillahzXx: "lol we haz 2 farm moar gear XD".

Voice communication naturally carries emotional message. So it turns people back to useless social apes. Don't let the voice chat of the top guilds fool you: there the constant competition keeps the social feelings out. They know that the other guy would take their spot and loot any minute, just as the RL would kick them if he could get a better player server transfer to them. They don't see each other as friends, as there is no friendship in the bleeding edge. And even if they would, the amount of criticism pouring from the raid and class leaders would kill the sociality even in Mother Therese.

Obviously: there will never-ever be voice chat in the guild.

PS: after failing to find anyone to raid with him, the failer left the guild with one of his friends and joined another in a non-raiding rank. While losing OK-ish healers did impact our raiding, we simply went 4.0 with fresh 85s to get them ready to FL next week. The major strength of the guild is finding quick replacements.


Pilgaard said...

How can you know if voicechat had anything to do with this case? How can you know if he was writing what he was told on voicechat (if that is what you are saying)?

Foo said...

If you need to believe that voice chat is the cause of an irrational outburst, there is nothing we can do to stop you.

I use voicechat. It has issues, but not this one.

The biggest issues I see are that it allows for encounter blindness (think magmaw with 1/2 room of steam). Better players are watching for steam. Lesser skilled players are waiting to be told to move on vent.

If you think that sociality is the cause - prevent players from using /social (or whatever the equivalent is for your guild).

Anonymous said...

I commend you how long you took the abuse. I would have given him one chance and then kicked him out and any of his cry baby friends.

Fringila said...

I have read the disscusion on guild chat. Even though I have never played a healer or a tank in raid environement, I can say that arguments this healer pulled were totally ridiculous. Claiming that 16% parry/ 10% dodge instead of 13/13 wiped the raid was total bullshit. Even if the numbers were bigger, depending on a random chance is still a bad practice and healers fault.

Was the tank undergeared? As previous project proved (raiding in blues) such a thing does not exist.
Lower gear level just means that there is less room for error and there is no place for slackers.

As for the voice chat - I think it makes the learning curve steeper. It makes it harder to perform good right at the beginning (new encounter, new people), but after certain point everyone, or at least those willing to put some effort, push beyond the point achievable with voice chat. At least in PvE, where encounters, while somewhat random, change only in narrow scope.

Péter Zoltán said...

Ragequitting the raid over your own fault would lead to a gkick in most guilds I think, social or not. That is unacceptable.
He could have blamed the other healer too, for not stacking more sparks for example :) Bah, some people are not that creative :)

Jana said...

This seems to me very much like failed reasoning as in:

If A implies B, then B implies A.
Where A is using voice chat and B is sociality.

There isn't any proof that voice chat with his "friends" was the core reason for his social emo tantrum.

Samus said...

The voice chat MASKED his poor play, it did not create it.

You think he was improving, but he was not. He was simply relying on voice chat. Voice chat was his crutch, he was not forced to improve. He did not need to learn, his friends would tell him what to do.

As soon as voice chat let him down, he failed just like you would expect from a player who never learned on his own. If his friends on voice chat had not failed him this time, we would not be having this discussion.

Ihodael of Darnassus said...

Pilgaard said: "How can you know if voicechat had anything to do with this case? How can you know if he was writing what he was told on voicechat (if that is what you are saying)?"

Gevlon, while I've been out of WoW for some time now I had to take the time to support this simple question. I understand your reasoning but I feel you are levelling your conclusions by the lowest denominator.

For many months I had voice chat while in the guild which I made use in the arenas with my arena partner at the time. Not going to claim we were any better for it but we were not any worst for it and not once did we raged on each other or anything while playing with voice chat (given it was a VERY small circle).

If anything what might happened was that the player in particular that you are mentioning was just pretending to be someone else...

Any ADULT which is unable to recognize his mistakes in a game and apologize for them (and EVERYONE makes some every once in awhile) will not only have a hard time in our guild, sooner or later, but above all I believe will have greater issues in real life (anyone that is in an happy marriage knows that you always apologize to your partner... even when you are right... and they know you are right... )

chewy said...

The guild of which I'm a member uses voice chat and I've often wondered how you managed to handle co-ordinated activities such as the shard swaps on Baleroc effectively without it.

Credit to you that you obviously have but choosing so to do is only a different approach, not better, nor worse.

We don't chat on voice, we merely communicate quickly at key points in fights. We don't hand hold people we simply change tactics on the fly according to the prevailing conditions and in-line with the strategy. It's only a communications tool.

Your proposition that it causes all forms of evil sociality is wrong at best and delusional at worst.

Imagine a proposal from any government that their armed forces should switch from radio communications to text messaging and you may be able to see just how blinkered you are being.

Cathfaern said...

Guys, I think you don't really understand Gevlon. He doesn't say that this player was a good player, but the use of the voice chat made him ragequitter. He says that he is a lolkid / ragequitter normally. But because the PUG made an asocial environment (among others with the ban of the voice chat) even a lolkid can raid normally. But as soon as this environment ceased to exists to that person he went back to lolkid.
It's not the voice chat's fault, it's the social environment's fault. So for example if somehow they could start leetspeak / lolling on raid chat, the same thing would happaned.

Anonymous said...

Last night I had a mage start complaining about the second hunter in the raid for Baleroc heroic. I immediately took him into a separate channel and told him to cool off or get out.

This guy, whislt good, alway complain about dps or lacking buffs, not realising that in 10 man you cannot have everything. He complained about the presence of a 45k dps hunter when the problem with the fight at that moment was understanding how to improve placement to maximise dps uptime.

This kind of guy is typical of the type that can wreck the morale of a raid. Unchecked this kind of person might make people believe that there is an issue with group comp or other things and when that idea works its way into the brain of others the fight is lost.

Voice chat or just writting does not change this kind of people, you need to take that asside very quickly and be blunt: improve your own game, be constructive or get out.

The best thing is not to have this kind of people in the first place.

Bindulax said...

I think you are wrong when you say that voice-chat is a greater threat to a-social ideas than the usual chat.

Communication itsself always brings along the threat. Of Course voice chat is a faster means to transmit communication, but the real threat behind voice-chat arouses when there is no moderation.

Writing simply is less threatening, because it takes much more time.

I must admit, that i am impressed by your guilds ability to get as far as you do without voice-chat.

But in the end, any kind of communication, according to the four sides model of communication, transports information with social content and it does take effort from everyone, to try and transmit as little emotion while transmitting as much information as possible - which, of course, is harder on some than on others.

Trelocke said...


I think people mostly understand that point. The problem with Gevlon's argument (as is the problem with many of Gevlon's arguments) is that he has a predetermined opinion about voice chat and then fits his conclusions to the outcome he wants, ignoring any and all other reasonable conclusions.

Many guilds allow all kinds of stuff in their guild chat. Is this the fault of guild chat? Does using guild chat make you a more social person prone to act like a lolkiddie? No, of course it doesn't, it's the environment in which it is used that influences your actions. Gevlon chooses to ignore this line of reasoning being applied to voice chat.

If Gevlon let people lolgratzspam his guild chat, that's exactly the environment you would see in guild chat. But he doesn't. He has rules and he enforces them. If he did the same thing with voice chat, he'd create a very similar environment. Which is to say an asocial one where voice chat is used as the tool it is rather than a place for social chit-chat. This was simply a matter of discipline, not the fault of any "thing" to be blamed.

Gevlon said...

@Treelocke: theoretically yes, voice chat is just a channel and what it transmits is no different than guild chat. But there are serious differences:

* You CAN'T talk without transmitting some kind of emotion. If you talk like a robot, that's funny in itself.
* You can easily avoid writing "lol". Avoiding naturally laughing on something funny is harder if not impossible.
* Written chat is easy to moderate. I can scroll up, I can save it automatically and search. I can even write a script that searches for unwanted content. Good luck making the same for voice communications.
* Misunderstandings or blaming on them: "I did not say nigger, I said finger - that pressed the wrong button". Good luck finding out what happened, even if you have a recording.

Tonus said...

You pointed out that hardcore raid guilds use voice chat. I think that it isn't voice chat or socializing that makes the difference, but leadership and focus. Many hardcore guilds seem to use voice chat to socialize, but when it's time to fight they are very strict about keeping it limited to necessary instructions.

I suppose you could say that they enforce strict "asocial time" in order to avoid losing focus during a boss fight. But they use voice chat socially as well and manage to progress. For them it is a tool that has its place and is useful as long as it is managed properly.

Anonymous said...

The guld rule is: "No voice communication in guild groups." The reason given is that it leads to spoon-feeding and poor performance. But today you are claiming something else entirely - that the existence of a voice chat network leads to social connections which leads to temper tantrums. So, is voice communication banned at all times, not just when in guild raids? If so, why is this not reflected in the rules?

This voice chat apparently has existed for some time. You say you found out about it "later" through "gossip". I would assume that the grapevine moves information fairly slowly in your asocial guild. Meanwhile this particular player has been "clearly improving" and "never made drama" until he had a complete meltdown in the space of a few minutes. Given that for all you know he was simultaneously improving and using voice chat, and nobody else using this voice chat network has freaked out (you say only one person left with him, but you imply that more people than that were using it), I see no evidence that the two are connected.

Anonymous said...

Transfer your project to SW TOR sith side, please?
By the way, did you choose alliance side because of the overall "good guys" image to cover your "evil ideas" image?

Anonymous said...

Being one of the people on that particular voice-chat, I can tell you that we have known eachother for far longer than your blog entry inclines, and that quite a few of us know eachother in real life. This being the case, we have seen eachother in much more embarassing situations than this one, and the reason for this person to "throw a tantrum" was definitely not the one you presented here. To add to this point, I would like to say that the said person is actually one of the better players on our TeamSpeak and though fails aren't sugarcoated on our voice-chat, he knows he does not have to prove himself to us.

Also, two of the social voicechat kids transferred to different guilds that, raiding-wise, are more succesful than The PuG and do most certainly NOT boost noobs. However you failed to mention this in your blog entry and only talked about the two that joined the realm's top guild as "socials".

Anonymous said...

In my 6year stretch of raider/officer/raidleader I found that there is one thing much much worse than guild chat and voice chat combined: it is called /whispers.

You cant control them, you cant even know about them except if one person screenshots/posts ChatLogs, they are one on one and can add such fuel to the fire of guild drama that forbidding voice-chat seems like trying to quench that fire with teaspoons of water.

David said...

Voice chat can be detrimental to the guild makeup when you have a social voice chat. I know you would impove in RBGs if you used Skype, not vent. Skype is great in that if gives the leader full control of the groups ability to talk and the sessions are only temporary. People cannot jump in and out of a skype session to chat up the group.

Lothildin said...

In the end, it doesnt matter if voice chat was the cause of the ragequitter.
What matters is that your guild has a rule that say no to voice chat. And the guy decided to break the rule.
That, alone, should be the reason for him to be banned.
Even if you are wrong about voice chat.

Clockw0rk said...

To me this seems like a confirmation bias; the idea of voice chat is bad and thus someone being involved in voice chat is the only thing that would lead up to such a ragequit.

Perhaps the person was having a bad day IRL or there had been a long period of frustration prior to his even using a voice-chat.

For the sake of argument the voice chat may well have been a factor, but there are so many other possibilities that it seems faulty to attribute it to that particular one.

I could use the same line of logic to say:

Anyone who has a warrior is a bad player. (This is purely for the metaphor, I've no ill will towards Warrior players)
A "good" or "improving" player in my guild is found to have a warrior alt.
The next time he screws up I blame it on him having a warrior alt.

Sure there is a correlation there but that does not imply the causation. I do not know if there were other factors involved in him "Screwing up", I don't even know if some of the better players in my guild secretly have warrior alts.

This does make me wonder however if perhaps the PuG is not as asocial as it is desired to be; from what I have seen discussed in posts it seems to attract a number of small "cliques" that basically use it as a regular guild except one in which they can just rightfully ignore everyone else, as opposed to social guilds that often aggressively fight clique behavior. Would Gevlon consider himself and Livia a clique as I am to understand they have a personal connection outside of the game; or is game activity completely undisclosed outside of WoW?

On another note I'd be curious to hear about Gevlon's plans for a "PuG" like group on SWTOR; since it has some different mechanics and rules I am curious how they will be handled.

For example, since the PuG is dedicated to efficiency will it be required that all players choose an alignment that is in line with that? From the videos I have seen choosing the "Dark side" option often leads to shorter instance runs, though Bioware may try to balance it out.

Anonymous said...

Well, this time I am pleased that you at least directly acknowledge the existence of high end raiding guilds where voice communication is clearly beneficial.

Anyway, while I agree that voice chat in lower-end guilds is a bad practice (it creates players that are unable to think for themselves and acts as an additional layer of distraction), I think your conclusions in this case are far fetched. It is possible that voice chat had something to do with the tantrum and your reasoning is sound, but it is far from actually proving what happened: you have simply explained what might have occured.

His behaviour was irrational and it might have been caused by any number of irrational reasons: for example, he might have disliked your style of leadership and when being accused, just snapped (his social mind prevented him from backing down, ending up making ridiculous claims).

Anonymous said...

I honestly couldn't disagree with you more on this issue Gevlon, and the reason is simple. I was a raid leader in a casual raiding guild (No DKP, no attendance requirements, no gear requirements)for several years during which we used Ventrilo for every single raid, though it wasn't a requirement if you didn't want to use it. It worked fine, there was never any chat-drama during raids. Not even once. The reason is simple, and I'm honestly shocked you haven't figured something similar out yourself. We simply didn't allow chatting, laughing, joking, or in fact anything not directly related to the raid to be said on the raid channel. If someone wanted to chat with friends, they were welcome to use private binds in the same way that someone could chat in a private channel or through whispers in a raid without voice chat. This was enforced by the raid leader being able to mute, kick, or ban anyone from the vent in the same was they could take away guild chat privileges or kick someone from the raid if they misbehaved. In the end it helped coordination immensely and didn't have any negative effects at all, simply because we viewed it like anything else, as a tool.

What it comes down to in the end is that no form of chat, text or voice, is inherently social or asocial. They're only tools, forms of communication. PEOPLE can be social or asocial and they'll tend to use ANY form of communication in whatever way is natural to them. To harness voice chat in an asocial manner all you need to do is apply similar rules as you do to text chat, you'll find it has almost precisely the same result. I know this for a simple fact, because I saw it happen myself in hundreds of raids and with dozens of raiders over years of playing. Our guild itself wasn't even remotely asocial, it had chatting in guild during off-hours, plenty of people used vent for social chat, we even had our share of guild drama of one sort or another but none of it ever happened on voice chat in a raid.

csdx said...

So does the fact that mere voice chat undermines the a-social ideal mean that your main thesis fails?

You seem to be admitting that your ideas could never truly work in the real world. Since if voice chat, let alone face-to-face interaction makes this near impossible, then clearly your ideals are confined to the virtual world only. If a-social ideas are so easily defeated, they could never last in the real world.

Thus the idea the idea that an a-social world is better is a non-starter. You might as well be proposing that a world with magic and elves, or upside-down gravity is more ideal. It's just a fantasy that can't possibly become true

Gevlon said...

@csdx: voice communication itself doesn't make the asocial ideas impossible. But they need much bigger effort to administrate. For example I should record ALL voice chat communication, analyze it and then discuss it with everyone who is involved in any inappropriate-ish activities.

In the real world therapies, the therapist is alone with one client. It's obviously impossible for me. So I need simplifications.

Hearthur said...

I'd like to play here, but i have a US account. Will create an EU account in a few days but I will accept a RAF request (free alt at 80! free mount!) if you email me at

Jason said...

@Anonymous: there is no practical reason to play horde, especially on a horde dominated realm. Alliance = instant bg queues at 85 and guaranteed to get into Tol Barad on most realms (even on my Alliance-dominated realm, there are more hordies than allies queueing for TB for some reason).
And blizz recently confirmed that win ratio for battlegrounds is close to 50% for both factions, so the notion of alliance losing more often in pvp is just a myth.