Speaking in tongues in your MMORPG
It seems that Aion, the new MMO currently approaching release, will allow players to select their own voices in-game. I’m not quite sure how this will work; does it mean that the voices of players would be fed through some sort of sophisticated software gubbins to emerge sounding totally different to their teammates? Would a player’s voice sound disguised to their own ears? I find that an intriguing if slightly unsettling prospect especially as I have a number of opposite gender characters. I also wonder at the amount of choice of player voices. Would many people just end up sounding the same? Of course they could introduce custom wave files so that people can record their own voices, but then the game would have to rely on people being sensible. I can envisage a game full of elven-type babes with sexy purrs! Though maybe playing LOTRO with a Sindarin converter could be interesting. Anyhow we will be hearing more I’m sure.
However, a while ago I read about something else that I find even more potentially disconcerting; making the actual player voice seem to come from the in-game character, to add to immersion. Perhaps to some this might sound fine, but to me, again thinking of the propensity of cross gender play in MMOs, the sound of a deep Scots brogue coming from a small girlish hobbit would seem odd, alright highly comical; it would make me giggle (sorry, my sense of humor can be a bit juvenile!). And definately immersion breaking. I’ve always thought of in-game voice as being a social tool rather than an aid to role-play and immersion but I wouldn’t want it turning a game into something verging on the silly!