Last week, in a thread about one of Diablo IV’s many rivals, MOP commenter Greaterdivinity noted that chat in the game was exhausting because all anyone wants to talk about is that game vs. all the other roguelikes and ARPGs. We gotta talk about that in this week’s Massively Overthinking because I bet every single MMO has this problem, though the topics are going to be different.
Now, don’t leap to the comments to tell me which game has the worst “Barrens chat” – what I want to hear about is what people are talking about in your specific main games. What are the dumb or repetitive topics that constantly come up in your MMO-of-choice’s open chat? What do people repetitively troll and dredge up, to the point that everyone groans? Are the topics specific to that game, or do you see them floating through other titles also? What are the dumbest conversations in your main MMO’s general chat?
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Hahaha, this is a really interesting area for me since most of the core games I’m playing don’t have in-game (text) chat. On the one hand, it does make things kind of lonely, but on the other, it fixes a lot of community problems.
For example, in Splatoon 3, there’s in-game voice chat, but almost no one uses it. But there is also the ability to use art, where people can say things. Right now, it’s mostly about the upcoming Splatfest, but a lot of it is positive stuff about mental health (“You’re worth it!” “Don’t forget people care about you!”) and LGBTQ+ support. It can be a bit awkward knowing that it’s a community of young people, but damn, these kids are good to each other! So I’m super happy to say we don’t have a ton of trolling/stupidity, aside from the occasional memes based on streamers I know nothing about, but those die down pretty fast.
Pokemon Go doesn’t have any kind of relevant chat in-app at all, but it’s also meant to be played in person. I think that helps keep people in check. Sadly, though, since fall 2021, most of the in-person chat often comes back to how bad Niantic is. About everything. Even at the recent Vegas tour before the event actually started. I know the negativity can be a turn-off for some people, so that may be slightly on topic.
The one game with in-game text chat that I play a bit of nowadays is Orna, but most chat in that game has to do with what defines “regional chat” for a real-world area. Around here, it’s several states at the least (I think California, Oregon, and Arizona), plus parts of others (like New Mexico). Legit question, but it comes up so often (and chat’s so dead) that you can usually just scroll up for the answer. Luckily, chat’s hidden by default, so it’s not too annoying.
Andy McAdams: I have to agree with Sam (below) on the “the answer to the question is to say to go look it up yourself” because that’s rude, intended to insult, and just generally dark behavior. Of course my question can be answered by conducting a five-minute google search as I re-search several times to find just the right phrasing to answer my question. Or I can ask the question in chat and someone who’s not doing anything else for the next 30 seconds can answer it for me. Seems like a win-win to me?
On the flip side of that, I get really annoyed with the same question being asked rapid fire in chat. If you actually read the chat for 30 seconds before you ask your question because it’s been answered approximately 5,342,239 times before in the last three minutes, you would save yourself and others time and chat spam.
It also might be me being a grammar snob, but it kind of irritates me when I see someone in chat say something like “Where mob?” I understand there are non-English speakers who play the game, but this often happens with folks who have character names that indicate a fair amount of familiarity with the English language. Verbs are a thing for a reason.
I get unreasonably fired up over this for no rational reason. If you need me, I’ll be out yelling at the clouds and reminiscing about walking uphill both ways to get Orgrimmar while vehemently debating the use of the Oxford comma.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): In the same thread with GD’s comments, I mentioned that Lord of the Rings Online players, at least on my server, fight about Rings of Power at least once a day, and I’m deeply sick of it. Most of them are not even making good arguments where good arguments actually exist, and it always looks like they’re putting on a troll play for open chat.
I’ve been spending more time in City of Heroes lately, and while I don’t see anything come up every single day, there are a few common topics I’ve seen over the years, usually revolving around builds (like disdain for farmers, healer characters, and petless Masterminds, that sort of thing). Honestly, the bickering in City of Heroes is much more subdued and usually more game-centric, though it certainly has its fair share of politics trolls too.
And SWG Legends doesn’t really have a default general chat; nobody really talks in planet chat, so most chat is in open chat or the custom channels like for traders and whatnot (or just on Discord). Really, all three of my main games are very tame compared to most MMOs. I’m lucky.
Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): I tend to avoid the larger areas with a lot of chatter these days because I like the silence, and part of the reason is just how cringe some of the discussions have become over the years. The number one thing that annoys me is when folks in all chat discuss raiding strategies or min/max strategies like they’re some kind of authority on the matter when they themselves don’t even have the gear to suggest that they’re min/maxers or successful raiders. In my experience, people who talk about strategies or min/maxxing in the public chat are neither and are putting up a front. It reminds me of the scene early in The Great Gatsby where Nick enters a library filled to the brim with books, but none of them were ever read — it was all there for show.
But I do like seeing chatter on folks talking about stuff outside of the game; it’s far more interesting than having to hear about why stat points need to go in this stat instead of this one.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): There are a few recurring jokes that spring up in PUG chat of Final Fantasy XIV, particularly during the longer story dungeons. A personal favorite is how one of the Castrum alarms sound like they’re saying “real meat.”
One recurring joke, though, is related to the shout channel: By default, the text of that chat is colored yellow, and very often someone will yell out, “Pee chat!” in that channel in one of the major cities. As if it hasn’t been done dozens and dozens and dozens of times before.
Inevitably you do see people responding in affirmation of that particular yell, though, so I guess it’s like hearing the Ric Flair “woo!” at a live WWE show – you gotta “woo” back.
Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I recently dipped my toe back into SWTOR after a couple of years. Much to my surprise and dismay, the “Replace a word in a movie title with ‘Jawa'” game is still going strong on Dromund Kaas, and the fleet is still debating whether the Star Wars prequel or sequel movies are worse (the correct answer, of course, is that the prequels are worse). It was like going home again in the worst way possible.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Wait, you hear “real meat?” I’ve always heard “fear me.”
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I only turn on and pay attention to world chat maybe half the time because I value my sanity — but also because sometimes there are encouraging and interesting conversations. My favorites are the ones where people are elevating things they like about the game we’re playing and bounce around taking turn sharing praises. It’s encouraging to be playing an MMO and hearing people be enthusiastic about it!
On the other hand, the conversations that have me scrambling for the “mute” button are the ones where someone feels like they need to go on a charged rant about something — usually politics or real world news — and won’t shut up about it, stirring up others to either chime in or start a fight. A massive public forum like world chat is absolutely not the place for nuanced or sensitive conversations, so I grit my teeth when people seem to think they need to use that megaphone for their own “insightful” commentary.
Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I haven’t been paying much attention to general chats in quite a while. I might glance at it, but usually I’ll ignore it. I don’t close it or block it explicitly; I’ve just gotten used to not looking at that section of the screen.
I think the things I tend to roll my eyes at the hardest when I see it though is players who ask a simple question, but rather than answering it the chat will tell them how to use the wiki to find the answer. Like, you spent as much time writing out that as you could’ve just answering the question directly.
Obviously, it’s the year 2023, and everyone knows you can tab out and Google a question, but asking it in game should be faster and simpler.