I have enough chat channels already

Syp of Bio Break wrote recently about the de facto pressure these-days summarised as “You have a guild, you must have a Discord.” I’ve observed this myself, when looking through the guild adverts in games there’s often a requirement that new guildmates join the community / voicechat platform. Discord is the current favourite, but there’s been others such as Teamspeak.

I mused earlier in the year over Discord-overload, it’s a problem for me that I just have so many potential channels to read through that I end up closing the program. I already have enough trouble keeping up with Guild chat if I’m in a dungeon or involved in a long quest chain, non-player characters tend to talk to you in MMOs nowadays so having random people chatting away about Netflix series or guild drama would negatively impact my enjoyment of the game. At least as text in a channel I can dip in and out, but in some games I have to even turn that off as you end up with an avalanche of text flowing past your screen.

If I’m in game, then I’m happy to be friendly and chat with guild mates or other gaming contacts. But I tend to keep the guilds I’ve joined at arms length from real life, gaming is an escape for me after all. So I’m reluctant to join a Facebook page for a guild, in that sense having a Discord server is an advantage I suppose as it’s easier to be known by just a gamer handle on that platform versus the hoops it takes to create a ‘fake’ FB profile. I don’t want the game, or community, nagging me to log on for raids or other scheduled stuff. I’ve always been bemused by reading of Eve Online large guild play, of players being summoned to join fleet operations by a fleet leader.

I go through phases of finding Facebook and Twitter more than I want to deal with. It’s a big problem with the information age, there’s just so much content being produced by so many people that how can any one individual possibly hope to keep up with a tiny fraction of it. I’m on Facebook because of family, and on Twitter because it suits me as an alternative means to keep track of my hobbies (MMORPGs and TTRPGs). Beyond that I’m happy to keep my platforms and channels within those platforms as limited as possible.

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7 Responses to I have enough chat channels already

  1. I always look at pings for EVE Online fleet ops as an opportunity. If I don’t have time or am not in the mood, nobody is going to seek me out and scold me for not showing up. It is more a matter of “hey, something cool might be happening, want to come along?” But EVE Online, at least out in null sec, is more chaotic than an MMO like WoW.

    I can see being overloaded by various channels on things like Discord. I try to trim mine back or mute the ones I keep around because I want to look into them only on specific occasions. But Syp’s rather aggressive anti-Discord stance stuck me as a hard line against being social. If you don’t want to be a part of the group, then don’t join the group. Being angry that people have a platform where they can gather seems like a waste of energy.

  2. Sylow says:

    Against being social? Getting rid of discord was an extremely pro-social move on our ESO guild. It really improved things a lot and the guild became much better because of it.

    Also, it might be me, but i don’t read Syps posting as being angry for people having that platform. But i do feel, just like him, that many guilds in many games apply pressure that you should join Discord. Up to the level that some people actually attack and insult you for not having a discord channel or not being there regularily. I am speaking of personal experience here.

    And yes, on first level i go the “sticks and stones” way here, shrug it off, discard those people as the garbage they might be and move on. But when looking at it from a higher perspective, it’s really yet another toxic aspect of our community: the new “religion” is Discord. Follow it or be treated badly. Not by many people, but by enough to give an impression.

    And based on that i also dare to conclude: Discord can be a great tool for the right guild. I know guilds where it’s the perfect choice. I know of some games where the discord is an awesome way to get support, not only from the community but even from the developers. (Although you can also say, it’s merely yet another replacement for Forums or Reddit and either of them actually are better organized and easier to navigate than the usual Discord channel. )

    But Discord still is not “the one thing” everybody needs to use. The pressure some people build in favour (or worship?) of it just is wrong and should be given up.

    • Focusing on Discord is a distraction. If there was not Discord it would be something else. And there has always been something else. Ten years ago it would have been the guild TeamSpeak server. Twenty years ago it would have been the guild forum.

      It is all the same, a focus point for the life of the guild outside of the game. If your attitude is that you don’t want to be a part of that, maybe it isn’t the medium (Discord, TeamSpeak, or whatever) but your own investment in the guild. There are always lurkers, people who stay apart. I’m usually in that group. But I’ve never seen it as the burden that you and Syp seem to be portraying it as.

      • Sylow says:

        You are partially right. In many ways Discord is merely the new name for the same problem. But i also observe different behaviour around this tool. If it’s the tool itself or the people is hard to say, but the behaviour is different.

        For guild forums, my experience over the years was that they were mostly deserted. In those guilds where they got use, they mostly were filled with idle chatter, sometimes along with one section where planing was done. Mostly for the raid group or something like that, so the “hardcore” content, which only a small part of the guild was interested in, anyway.

        It did not take away too much of the guild. For TS or whatever other voice tool i also did not see the impact too much. I mean, no matter in which guild i was, when i logged into TS there were like two or three people there at max. No significant impact to the guild at large. (And in many guilds who just want voice communication, Discord or TS are quite the same: people enter when the event starts, they leave when it’s over, a rather low quote actually lurks in the voice channel. )

        The negative impact was mostly the text channel of Discord, strange as it sounds. I mean, i have several monitors, so i was able to see what happened. I came home from work. people in the Discord text chat already over the day organized themselves. The more casual members were not along, it was only the hardcore people. I then had the game on one screen and Discord on the other. And i observed a lot of things forming on Discord, which the new players in the guild never were aware of. In contrast, when the people asked for help on the in-game chat, only a handfull of people were responding. Many people apparently completely ignored it, in favour of Discord. And even worse, some who sometimes paid attention also showed quite some Elitism, along the line of “be on Discord or get lost”.

        We first tried to solve things in a more social way: talking to people, trying to find a compromise. The actual effect probably was shorter than the time we invested talking to them. Habits took over again in no time. Closing down our Discord channel was not a decission done lightly. And yes, there was some shaking, we lost a few members, etc. But most of the “we are on Discord, we are better than you” players adjusted quickly, used the in-game chat again and everything turned out fine.

        By getting rid of the Discord channel our guild became much more inclusive. Suddenly the beginners also were able to see when groups formed for dungeon runs, they picked up information from the chat which formerly was elsewhere, their questions got answered and they were included in activities.

        So yes, we sacrificed a little bit of “convenience” for the older members and they again had to organzie their gaming activities during their gaming time, instead of doing it on the smartphone while being at work. [Which might be all the difference to TS: using a smartphone at work is not suspicious. Using voice-chat to organize your evening activities while being in your office is a whole different league. ] In turn we gained a lot of inclusion of our newer members and the guild became much more social again.

        In conclusion: the name “Discord” of course is just because it is “the thing” right now. Would it not be Discord, it could be some other tool. But due to how it is made and how it also works on smartphones, it very much supports the described behaviour. Much more than any older alternative did, which thus at least never impacted any guild i was in as much as Discord did.

        The mere fact is: i personally experience much more of guilds splitting along the line of being on Discord or not than at any older alternative and i also experience much more pressure from the community to use this tool.

        I mean, i somehow end up as officer or sometimes leader for a guild or equivalent in online games since over 20 years. (So yes, even in some old time MUD i ended up in such positions. ) But when i did some recruiting at those times, i didn’t get comments along the line that by not having a forum, roger wilco, TS or anything like that we’d clearly be dimwitted retards or other insults.

        By now i do when i tell people that we decided not to use Discord. This tool seems to have religious followers. Sure, it’s still a minority of the players, most people i recruit are fine, but once every other month i get a load of smack talk for not using this tool.

        Thus considering how much people are focused on it and how rude they are towards people not using it, a negative reaction to it also is not that surprising.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    The only game where I really see Discord being a thing is GW2 and even there it’s only in WvW. It absolutely isn’t specific to Discord, either. Discord is just flavor of the month right now. A few years back it was Teamspeak2, which I installed specifically for WvW. Before that it was Teamspeak and before that Mumble. At various times they were all “essential” for playing WvW but of course they aren’t anything of the kind. Anyone can play without any of them and have a fine time.

    What they are essential for is for playing in an organized group where following instructions in a timely manner is an accepted part of the gameplay. It’s literally the same as playing a team sport where individual players need to know and respond to audible, verbal signals in order to perform their designated roles. If you didn’t want to do that, self-evidently you would not want to be part of one of those teams.

    I was a bit confused, though, by Syp’s post and some of the follow-up comments. I always think of Discord as a voice chat app but it’s also widely used as for text chat as we see every year with Blaugust. I couldn’t work out whether Syp was complaining about guilds insisting on voice communication per se or whether he specifically dislikes Discord because guilds use it for text chat rather than using the in game channels. I haven’t seen that happening but I agree it would be annoying. Then again, I always disliked guild forums for the same reason so again it’s hardly something Discord can be blamed for.

    • Sylow says:

      Your point of view is very much different from mine. Would you not have written the last paragraph, i would even say that you’d be completely missing the point. You mostly compare Discord with other voice communication programs. Would it be used just like that, i’d also see no issue. I mean, i’ve been through many of those, and they rarely were a problem. Only in my Neocron 2 guild (a massive 8 people), we were on TS all of the time. But all the guild, so no problem again.

      Everywhere else voice communication was only used for specific content. Like the described PvP. So yes, in Warhamer Online we also went to the Warband Leaders TS when joining a Warband. We went to our guild TS when we went to battlegrounds. But we were not on TS when not in such activities. The same pattern was around in many other games over the years: you need voice communication for some activity, you use it. And that’s it.

      Old times forums also attracted people when not being able to play. But there my observation was that the forums were busy over the day, and fell silent on the evening. Actual communication -while playing- still happened in the game. Which still is good enough in my eyes. The more casual players miss out the out-of-game chatter of old time friends, but they don’t miss out on the guilds in-game activities. Fine enough for me.

      My problem of Discord is not the voice communication, that one usually is under control. (See above: few people over the day, while at work, go to TS and chat with people what they would do on the evening. ) With Discord i experience something which neither of the other games tools did: drawing people out of the game, even while actually playing the game, and thus splitting the community.

      The other aspect which really annoys me is that Discord seems to be a religion. I mean, in over 20 years of online activity, i could count the insults i got for not having a Forum, TeamSpeak, Mumble, Roger Wilco or anything like that on one hand and would still have several fingers spare. Since Discord established themselves, i get called insulting names [edited to remove words other readers might find offensive, Telwyn] on a bi-monthly, merely for our guild not using Discord.

      There is some serious hate and toxicity going around if you don’t use Discord. It is something i very much experience. So yes, that’s why i agree on Discord being a problem. Sure, if there was no Discord, then perhaps it would be some other tool and thus another name i might be using here. But right now it is this tool or rather our guilds abstinence from it, which regularily results in me getting toxic comments.

      And to mirror it from the players side: in another MMO which i play casually, i miss out on many things. I am aware of that, i don’t mind as i see myself as casual, but i also see that would i want to be more involved in the guild, i would actually have to get out of the game. And i did more than once read some answers to questions in the guild chat, which were not like “here, we help you” but rather “if you are not smart enough to be in discord, then you can’t be helped”. Which again is just a level of toxicity which i have not experienced before.

      Was i really that well sheltered before, did the toxicity against people not using a specific tool already exist before and I just never experienced it? It sure is possible,but considering my gaming history and how i usually play, i consider it very unlikely.

  4. Nogamara says:

    Basically came here to say the same thing re: EVE what Wilhelm already said.

    It’s not “dedicated raid night” where people are counting on YOU, the regular player. I’m gladly ignoring pings in EVE on a daily basis while happily doing other things, in EVE or elsewhere.

    That said, this probably only works if you’re part of a big group and it’s not you and your 10 friends, and even then it’s a lot easier than raiding.

    And yes, all the Discords are.. a problem. I’m active in our Slack but I’m basically ignoring every Discord except the Blaugust one (because I choose to be somewhat active there).

    I do think some things are just different. If I’m active in a guild and they have a forum, I will check the forum. If they have a Discord then I will probably check the Discord – all once in a while.

    I don’t go by my real name when playing games so I will absolutely not do Facebook there. I think I have a single ex-guildie there, and we only connected after not being guildies anymore. And no, I’m not making more Facebook accounts for this, but I actually even might have one for game stuff, unused for at least 5-7 years.

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