The Daily Grind: Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?

The first MMO I ever played was Final Fantasy XI, which meant that I got used to the idea of having no zone-wide chat. If you needed to get the attention of everyone in the zone, you used the /yell command, and that was considered intensely rude. It was only when I started playing City of Heroes (my second MMO) that I started getting used to the idea of zone-wide chat… which meant it seemed noisy at first. Going back to FFXI and then later in Final Fantasy XIV, it seemed downright quiet.

On the one hand, having a zone chat feature means that you get to talk with more people on a regular basis, so in some ways it helps with socializing. But it also means socializing that you might not want; Barrens Chat in World of Warcraft was legendary for being awful, and there’s a running meme in FFXIV to just turn off /shout when people are using it heavily. Plus there are people who prefer not to have it for immersion or the sense of immediacy. So what do you think? Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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35 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?"

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Toy Clown

Something happens to my brain when I watch game general / zone chats. As much as I would love to leave them on and use them to interact with others, I have them shut off more times than not. I can’t take another “are traps gay” discussion. Or any other overused… stupid conversation that has nothing to do with gaming.

Sometimes I do have them on, usually when I’m looking for a specific spawn, or wanting to get in with others on something in the game and I look for opportunity. When I see new players asking for help, and like the poster below me said, they get griefed to the point they might leave a game, I grab them quickly in tells and offer to help them if someone else didn’t beat me to it.

I just wish people were respectful in public chats, but it seems more like a stage to see how far people can act-up with anti-social behaviors.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Zone chats are indispensable to new players. You ask world chat a question, you’ll get nothing but Alt-F4 answers. You ask in zone, you’ll get a good response.

The same with looking for help. Ask in world for help with a quest, people will reply, invariably, “you can solo that, noob.” Ask in zone and you’ll actually get help.

When a game has zone chat, I usually keep an eye on it for people who need help, especially if I’m playing a higher level character than the zone.

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Paragon Lost

I’m a fan of zone chats, I’m not a fan of world chats.

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Bryan Turner

I’m typically a loner, even in real life if I’m surrounded by people I’ll just sit in the background listening for ours only to wait for the moment to provide well timed dry dark sarcastic one liners so map chat is perfect for me since I can half pay attention to what’s going on with out any of the awkwardness of being forced to participate. To be honest the only time I feel comfortable talking to any one is when I’m on a forum and I can take 30 minutes to edit the shit out of comment to sound like there’s nothing wrong with me.

Got into a long conversation with a guild mate in ESO that’s a high functioning autistic guy and it felt like I was talking to brother which left us both thinking I should get screened for Aspergers (my wife thinks I’m nuts for considering it a possibility she just thinks I have no social acumen and can’t read people well).

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Dwarf-Orc

Its a core MMO feature. You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. There are no downsides to having it.

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Tandor

I invariably disable zone chat, there’s never anything worthwhile in it. It’s usually a combination of guild recruitment, trade, and trash talk although by all accounts there’s more of the latter on NA servers than on EU servers. In ESO, for example, I play on the PC EU server and disable the default Zone chat while enabling Zone English chat, and I never have any problems.

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NeoWolf

Zone chats are little different than General Chats as it is the same people populating them, just in smaller numbers.

Which is to say without moderation they are a toilet that needs flushing. And if you want to dive in and look for nuggets of gold amongst what horror you would have to immerse yourself in..more power to you. Not me, been there, done that..still having the nightmares.

I have seen many many zone chats, across many many games, over many many years and although they start off relatively okay…they ALWAYS end up the same way, a soap box for the stupid, ignorant and hateful that drown out the friendly, helpful and Inquisitive.

borghive
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borghive

All you need is player mods, like Albion online uses, to keep the chat honest. Otherwise, zone wide chat is great, when properly moderated.

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Vunak23

I liked the way the community treated /shout in FFXI. It wasn’t used unless someone needed help with something (raise, help with Genkai etc.) other than that it was fairly quiet, everyone kept to their respective channels (/tell, /party, /linkshell, etc.). I wish more MMORPG communities would use the same rules.

In other MMOs with “loud” communities I keep the zone wide chat on a separate chat tab than everything else. That way I don’t have to see the cesspool of nonsense.

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Rhime

Only if we’re not forced to listen to political, religious or non-english typically not game related conversation. There are usually private/guild channels for all that bullshit.
You’re next topic related to this should be “Is the /ignore important in MMO’s?”.