PC Gaming: When Do You Use a Headset/Mic?

I reinstalled UT 2004 this week, and was messing around last night on a server running some crazy maps where you race buggies through loopy outer-space racetracks. The courses are hard enough to do solo, so I was taking the opportunity to test drive a few without a whole team of people trying to blast me off the road.

After a few minutes, another dude joins the server. The racing maps are so big that it’s not weird that I don’t see any sign of him for a few minutes. But then he pops up on voice chat, talking in a thick eastern European accent, explaining that he’d like to call a truce so he can get to the end of the map. I type “OK” and we continue playing.

The guy pops up on voice chat a few more times: he asks how far along the race course I am; he mentions it’s his first time seeing this race, and how he’s a long-time UT veteran. That’s fine with me, and I respond in text chat. But after a bit more conversation, all initiated by this guy, I can’t tell if he’s annoyed or mocking me or what: “Why are you typing everything? Why aren’t you using your headset? Don’t you have a mic?”

This is not the first time I’ve run into this. Some gamers seem to consider a headset a default part of the gaming experience, and are genuinely confused or exasperated when someone is playing a game and doesn’t have a mic running.

Personally, I don’t get it. I have a nice headset and like using it for specific things: occasional LAN parties, playing with friends online, raiding in WoW or special guild events, or organized competitive play. But I also have a nice sound setup, and 90-95% of my online play is against total strangers, so I’m in no hurry to plug my headset in just so I can talk back to them. Most of the time, the voice chat is completely moronic and pointless, populated by kids desperate for attention, and I’m just as happy ignoring it.

So I’m curious how other people here approach voice chat. Do you always play with a headset on, even with strangers? Do you avoid it at all costs? Are there only specific times you’ll use one?

WoW only, and then raids only.

I tried talking to strangers years ago, found I did not care for it. Plus, my ears get uncomfortable.

As I mentioned over in the hardware forum with my mini-review of the Xonar Xense soundcard/headset package, I’m exclusively a headset gamer. I like to play games loud, but I live in a section of row houses here in VA which means my neighbors are just across the wall. Investing $330 in a top of the line soundcard/headset is some of the best money I’ve ever spent on my rig.

I only use voice chat when playing with friends, whether it’s an MP Minecraft server, an MMO or a co-op RTS. But then when it comes to gaming on the PC, I pretty much don’t play on pub servers anymore or group with people I don’t know in MMOs. The one exception will be an occasional team with pub players in City of Heroes but that game has no voice client so there’s never that ‘Why are you typing?’ issue there, anyway.

Oddly, I rarely heard voice chat back in UT2004’s heyday when I played pub servers. (I still have it installed, too. Hard to believe it’s already seven years old.)

Well, we are in 2011 already, yes, it expected to have a mic to talk in games (if the occasion arises). Voice over net in games is more know and accepted (and we have bettwer connections) than years ago. It was in 2003/4 when it was a new thing and few people used it. Over the years their use has increased (but i understand is not as much as in 360). It also has increased the number of games that have an integrated voice solution, be a native method or Steamworks or GFWL.

Of course, having a mic for gaming is not the same that using it always in public random games. I have it but rarely speak in those games. Most people don’t bother, in Europe we are more divided by different languages, etc.

Also, the poll is missing the obvious ‘Only when gaming with friends’ option. I must conclude that sluggo has no friends! Or at least friends with headsets.

Only in games with teams in which I need to coordinate with a team. Also, only if the voice chat functions “out of the box” via Steam, GFWL, or some other method. If the game requires me to use some 3rd party, then screw it. I’m not here to mess with other programs. I’m here to get my game on.

:edit: I don’t have speakers attached to my PC so I am always “using” a headset. Still I won’t use the microphone except for when playing with friends.

My speakers get some weird interference in my apartment (pretty sure it’s the dead trying to speak), so I’m pretty much forced to use my headset all the time. So it’s that by default I guess.

I think the integration of voice in all multiplayer Xbox games has pushed it towards the expected default. But I totally agree that voice on the pc is only with friends and usually through a separate service like mumble or skype.

Out of consideration to those around me who may not want to hear the incessant sound of gaming, I always use my headset for everything. I don’t even currently have my speakers hooked up to my PC.

Now whether I’ll use the headset to actually talk in a public FPS server or not is a totally different story. I tend to use it more for Skype than anything else.

I use teamspeak with friends when playing multiplayer, but it is quite rare, since I am more into SP. But for games like Lara Croft, L4D2, TDU2 or Portal 2 etc, definitely teamspeak.Easy to setup and quality is outstanding.

I’m pretty sure that’s covered by “rarely”. :)

With three kids, if I want to actually hear my game I need to use my headset. I always have my mic ready in games that use voice chat, but tend not to talk much.

Rarely, because I don’t like being called a nigger faggot.

Not for me! I probably spend more than half of my game time with friends using ye olde headset.

Something like:

70% headset/voice with friends
25% single player games
5% playing sans headeset/voice on a public server

I use a headset with MMOs, but I’ve never really been comfortable with it. Voice chat is intrusive enough that it feels like I ought to have something important to say if I’m going to hog the mic and demand their immediate attention, so I wind up hesitant to say anything.

Groups were a lot chattier back in my EQ1 days, without voice chat, but then there was a lot more downtime back then and in modern MMOs the pace is quick enough that there’s not a lot of free time to type a lot, either.

That’s interesting to me. I’d like to play more with friends, but schedules rarely allow it. So most of my multiplayer gaming is done via pickup games on public servers against random folks.

Only in mmos and only during particularly tricky raids and instances. Mostly I loathe them. Apart from the rude commentary of some people, I find voice chat can reduce and eliminate the social aspects of an mmo. For example, a good friend of mine uses one when he plays with his brother. When I am grouped with them there is no chat in group. Any chatter, observations, or friendly banter is occurring over the headset. The experience is quite exclusionary.

Well, so far, the results so far seem in line with my own opinion: there’s nothing weird about not having a mic hooked up for random pickup games. If anything, most people seem wary of all the loons hanging out online and try to maintain a buffer between them. I was curious if I was just out of touch, but it seems like I’m not (well, at least not in this case). Thanks for the responses so far. :)