I Don’t Want to Hear It

stitches-with-bra-feature-boxOne of the first things, it might even be the first thing come to think of it, I do when I join a Dota2 match is mute everyone on the other team. They’ve never said anything I needed to hear anyway. Any potential for humor, meaningful exchanges, friendly asides has already been destroyed by playing this game. What they’re going to say probably cruel, racist, sexist, homophobic, insulting, angry, demeaning, and pointless. So I mute them. It helps. Sometimes I mute my teammates if they’re especially vitriolic or crude but not always. They might  say something useful, organize a gank, or talk about a useful push strat.

I love that I can’t communicate with the enemy team in Heroes. Love it. I don’t want to talk to them. If I want to, I can friend them and chat that way but the freedom to scream via a keyboard at a stranger on the internet is gone, and I don’t miss it.

Blizzard knows this problem well. In the early days of World of Warcraft Forsaken players could chat across factions. Why not, right? It makes sense that the Forsaken would retain the language of their previous lives, at least somewhat. There’d be tension, some smack talk, and some issues but most players wouldn’t abuse it. It’d just be a way to chat with each other, regardless of avatar allegiance.

But that didn’t last.

It became abusive and cruel almost over night. Forsaken players, in the most innocuous example, just harassed  Alliance players. The severity of the harassment grew into gank traps – luring low level Alliance players to specific locations and slaying them – and into cyber sex tolls. That is, your character is camped and ganked unless you participate in cyber sex with the camper. For lack of a better term, that’s rape. Blizzard cut cross faction chatting, put in Gutterspeak, and players can’t communicate across factions. You need to be friends, real ID friends, to talk troll to gnome, human to forsaken.

Is it an arbitrary limitation? Absolutely. Do I mind it? Not at all.

There are examples, MMOs no less, where cross faction communication doesn’t result in that sort of behavior. Rift, EQ2, Wildstar is experimenting with it as the game develops. WoW’s community, however, has a special blend of devoted ogres that jump on any opportunity to ruin a night for someone else. They’re present in other games but WoW’s impressive subscription size means there are more of them around, feeding off of and encouraging each other.

Blizzard doesn’t want that to plague the new games they’re launching. Hearthstone has a very, very limited emote selection and even that can be used to torment an opponent. It’s not as sadistic as the issues WoW ran into, it’s more irritating and infuriating than humiliating, but it can rub nerves raw in a hurry. I like that I can squelch my opponent – I expect them to do the same. I do so right as a game begins. I don’t care what you have to say to me. Let the cards and your plays do the talking.

So, yeah, I don’t want cross team chat in a match. There’s enough going on, enough people to chat with on my side, that talking to my opponents adds nothing. I’m not a trash talker, I don’t enjoy watching others do it, and I don’t want to hear it. If you do, there are oodles of other games out there that allow you to run your mouth and sling insults. Heroes doesn’t need to be one of them.

Travis Morrow is a writer who really likes peanut butter. He plays Dota2, HotS, and lots of tabletop games. Occasionally he jabbers on his personal site.

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