So in looking at my blog stats, I saw that someone found this blog by searching for, “is playing WoW with vent more fun.” And I thought to myself, ‘gee, what a great topic for a post!” So that’s to be the post for today.
My take is… yes. See you next time. j/k
Vent changes everything, really.
As I’ve posted before, text-chat in WoW requires stopping whatever you’re doing, typing, and then returning to your run or fight. Auto-run helps, and so sometimes typed conversations are possible when you’re trying to get somewhere, but mostly, if you want to text chat, you basically stop playing and hang out somewhere. (I used to do that a lot in Zangermarsh. There’s something cool about sitting on top of those mushrooms for a chat…)
But Vent is where you can acutally get to know people. Because you can still play while you talk, you can joke, gripe, question, comment or muse without interrupting things. There is something very different about text-chatting with people and then moving to Vent for a conversation. It feels much more intimate, more personal.
I remember long ago, I had met someone I thought was very cool. I quested with him for a while, and eventually thought that it would be easier to invite him to chat on Vent rather than just in text. I had known him for about two weeks.
But still, I was nervous about asking. It felt somehow too intimate to suggest he come onto Vent – I didn’t want to give the wrong idea, I didn’t want to make either of us feel uncomfortable. At the time, I asked a friend, Di., about it, and he said, “sure, why not? no big deal.” And I think he didn’t really see any reason why I would feel awkward inviting someone to Vent. But it felt like A Step to me. It took more nerve – and social risk – change venues like that.
On the flip side, I once was leveling a toon and ended up questing with someone I met. And s/he suggested that we get into Vent to coordinate because it was easier. But that felt just really weird to me! I made excuses until the questing was over. I just wasn’t comfortable in Vent – especially alone – with someone i had just met. Socially, voice chat raising teh stakes, somehow. Makes things more exposed, and turns almost socially neutral situations into ones where things like age and gender and accesnt, not to mention simple personality, are much more immediate and central to interaction.
Probably a lot of this is because I’m female. My identity, as a “marked” one – that is, not the expected gender, and so noted as different – becomes salient when I’m in Vent. So text chatting, it doesn’t much come up that I’m female (although sometimes it very much does), but in Vent it is always a part of who I am and who I’m seen to be. I’ve heard and read many women say they often claim they “don’t have Vent” because they don’t want to either out themselves as female or deal with the reactions when they talk. If it’s just me and a guy in a Vent channel, it can generate gossip – or at the very least, suggestive teasing from others.
But playing with Vent is definitely more fun. Recently I did some battlegrounds with a guildie while on Vent and it was a blast. I was a wreck, dying all the time, and really not doing well, but because w ere in Vent we could laugh at it and it was a blast. Running heroics while chatting in Vent can turn dull, repetitive instances into goofy evenings of fun.
In short, Vent chat makes things lighter. It makes them personal. It makes them somehow more real. That sense of more real is because, I believe, voice raises the social stakes, makes aspects of our individual selves more relevant and present (and simply more identifiable). This might be because voice is a “richer” medium, able to transmit more personal, social and cultural markers and resulting in more intimate interaction. But I’m with Walther: you can be extremely intimate in text as well.
But in WoW, where generally a) text disrupts game activities and b) you know of and have experience with the voice alternative to text, there is a clear difference between the two. Moving from text chat to Vent always make me shy for a few moments, even with people I’ve spoken to a lot before.