I have been playing MMORGs for quite a while now, but a new development has made me irritated. Its called ventrillo. My World of Warcraft guild has, for the first time, gotten a ventrillo server, which means that people can communicate with other players not only through text but also through voice communication. This means that now I’m expected to wear headphones every time I play the game and be available to chat or listen to others chatting. Sometimes I don’t want to chat! Also, wearing headphones is annoying, especially when most of the time on one is talking!

If you compare the World of Warcraft environment to RL (real life) environments, this development parallels all the new technologies that make people available through electronic communication 24/7. In World of Warcraft you can text anyone you want on a variety of channels-either broadcasting your message or write privately to any other player. Now with Ventrillo you are also expected to be paying attention to a cell phone/walkie-talkie like system on which anyone in your guild is able to contact you.

I had a cell phone for my job, I didn’t enjoy it. Phone calls were always interrupting my activities and when I really wanted to use it the batteries usually weren’t charged. I don’t want everyone to be able to contact me whenever they want, I want to control how much I’m available.

The main arena in which ventrillo is useful, in my opinion, is when your online characters are interacting within the same (virtual) physical space. In that case, ventrillo provides a way to communicate when quick action is needed. This is similar to the type of communication that might happen between team members during a sporting event. It confirms that conversation is most important when you are inhabiting the same space as another person, in RL or in virtual environments. In-person interactions should take priority over text messaging and cell phone calls. There is something important about sharing actions with another person, not just words.

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