I’ve just read the post by Wilhelm about Discord and other voice platforms. I play MMORPGs and (virtual) tabletop gaming with a set of different overlapping groups of friends and family members. For the most part I game with a fairly static group of closer friends who I have know a long time. We adopted voice (and video) for gaming relatively late considering the technology has been around for many, many years.
As was discussed recently during a dungeon run in World of Warcraft Classic, I have pretty clear memories of the first use of this kind of technology: I can remember running a game of Shadowrun over IRC (a text chat program) circa 1997. I believe we started using Yahoo Messenger voice not long after that to have catch-up chats, but not for gaming.
I can remember being asked to use in-game voice chat for Dungeons & Dragons Online (2008) & Lord of the Rings Online (2009) dungeon runs with the cross-game guild I was a member of at the time. I remember that I found this stressful as I wasn’t used to using voice chat in gaming back then.
My husband started raiding during the Cataclysm era of WoW with a larger guild, an activity that required voice chat, so I saw the obvious benefits of using voice over time and second hand. We started using voice, at least regularly, around the time Battle.Net voice was introduced (2016). It’s use has crept in bit by bit, usually for one specific activity but then becoming more widespread. We used voice to join other larger groups as mentioned already, but then eventually started using it regularly for our own dungeon groups. Discord came into the mix to play non-Blizzard games such as Destiny 2 and Divinity Original Sin 2. This year we adopted Discord’s newly introduced video chat feature for virtual tabletop roleplay, driven especially by the COVID lockdown that started back in March.
It strikes me that my own introduction to voice chat and eventually video chat seems to have been rather drawn-out. I’m an IT professional so I’ve been using/managing web calls and video conferences since the late 2000s. Yet the advantages are obvious to me now: voice chat makes for more enjoyable, and better coordinated, dungeon running in WoW. Video chat and Fantasy Grounds have allowed us to play a lot more tabletop roleplay than we would otherwise have been able to (especially in 2020). The caveat to note here is that this is all in the context of playing with friends and guild-mates. I’m not interested in being on voice with random people in a pick-up group like WoW’s Raid Finder!