Headsets and microphones are nuisances to most gamers, or tools for the hardcore. Personally whenever playing some of my favorite title’s such as Destiny, I simply don’t want to be bothered with speaking to match-made randoms. I know many other gamers feel this way, and unknowingly, every day we play with this attitude, we take something for granted. For us, headsets may be borderline unnecessary gaming accessories, while for others they are an obstacle.
I never thought about those who are not speaking, not because they do not want to, but because they cannot. After discussing the snobbery players can encounter when looking for raid groups using online forums, one very brave player stepped forward and brought up what should be a much more important issue in the gaming community. While titles such as Destiny have added much needed modes for those suffering with different types of Color Blindness, those with speech impediments may have trouble fully experiencing this shooter.
Many games that are currently played such as Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, or even DOTA, depend on teamwork and communication. Even titles just beyond the horizon such as The Division, and Rainbow Six: Siege will heavily depend on tactical social play.
With this emerging trend placing an emphasis on always online social gaming, how can we include others who may have a hard time being social? Many of these titles are fast paced, requiring rapid, cogent communication. Aside from requiring the best weapons, some party leaders will kick players for not communicating. This popular and at times understandable practice, poses a huge challenge to those who cannot communicate as rapidly as their teammates. The following day I reached out to the gamer who brought the entire issue to both my attention and the others within the thread. During our conversation he recounted his best and worst online gaming experiences.
I think the best experience I’ve had with online gaming has been with Borderlands and Borderlands 2. I played the first one, but not a whole lot. The reason I had so much fun with it was because there was so much I could do that didn’t require me to speak to people. A good thing was that my main friends that I hang out with, understood my speech impediment and loved that game. It was easy to be able to play with my friends and allowed me to fully explore that game and do the raid bosses and stuff.
Honestly the worst experience has been with Destiny. Not with the community, but just being almost forced to find people to do raids, nightfalls, and until recently, weeklies with. Not many of my friends have PS4’s and those who did, were not big into it. When Destiny was first revealed, I felt as if it was gonna be kinda like Borderlands with a ton of side missions and things I would be able to do alone, and not necessarily with other people. I was pretty let down when that wasn’t really the case. Don’t get me wrong, I love the community in Destiny, and the group page on Facebook we are in, but it’s so hard to find people to do a raid. As you and I both know, if people don’t know what they’re doing in raids and the group isn’t patient and willing to help, it can be hell.
Rather than simply excluding players who may not be able to participate in this genre of gaming, devs could empower these players with tools specifically made for them. I also asked what ideas he would possibly like to see implemented to make social play easier.
A couple of things I can think of are, somehow implementing some quick messages that can Pop up above your guardians head with a button. Messages such as “I understand” or “repeat the statement or question” and others. Another thing I think would be cool would be if they implemented something you could select while you’re in orbit waiting to start the raid that lets others know that you have a speech problem. Kinda like while you’re in orbit if you could select a prompt on scene saying “This guardian is unable to speak, but will listen”. although, I know that’s probably difficult in terms of programming.
Some other ideas that can perhaps be implemented within the Bungie title, and games at large, are tactical emotes, or possibly the ability to place markers such as those in the Mass Effect series used to direct your party. Emblems that identify a player as not being comfortable speaking, or unable to can also be used. As the power of our current gen consoles is pushed further perhaps integrated systems can be introduced, that translate broken or stuttered speech into a clearer message with a synthesized voice.
One wonderful part about gaming as a whole, is the diversity of those who pick up controllers. Every player should be able to fully enjoy their favorite games, and with more and more additions with features like colorblind modes, we may be moving towards that goal. It is ultimately up to us, to request these features from developers, and in the meantime be more open, understanding and patient with our fellow party members.