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Everyone in Space Wants to Hear You Scream: Towards a Framework for Understanding Player Voice in Virtual Worlds
When considering player voice in the context of game sound, existing examinations remain inconclusive. As player voice exists in a liminal position between reality and virtuality, some academics see them as sonic violations of the game space. Voice can convey information about identity, which may oppose our understanding of the avatars within the game world. Voice can facilitate social communication, which may remind us of the physical world outside the virtuality. Mediations of voice into the virtual world may introduce obstacles or inflections that interfere with our enjoyment of the virtual space. Alongside these concerns, however, we can also find virtual worlds that prioritize and privilege player voice. Player voice can become part of character identity. Gameworlds can encourage us to communicate ludically, without disrupting immersion. Interruptions and disruptions can be limited by players.
Amongst others, the virtual world of the long-running MMORPG EVE Online demonstrates how voice can coexist with immersion. Marketing materials for the game now place player voice at the center of consumer focus. Including an interview with one of the videographers who placed player voice at the center of his fan videos, the article uses EVE Online as a case study for the integration of player voice into virtual worlds.
By examining virtual worlds and the role of voice within them, this article develops a framework for understanding player voice in the context of game sound. This allows us to recognize how player voice, an often overlooked aspect of game sound, can function within virtual worlds.