Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  Vivox Adds Voice to ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-03-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Word on the street is that virtual world Second Life will soon join competitor There in giving avatars a voice, thanks to Vivox, a Boston-based company which has already voice-enabled sci-fi MMO EVE Online.

Vivox first demonstrated its technology in Second Life during last year's Game Developers Conference. I was given a demonstration afterwards by key Vivoxians Robert Seaver and Monty Sharma, resulting in the article "Connecting Real Voices Through Virtual Worlds," which covered Vivox's approach to EVE and plans to augment other MMOs.

The addition of voice to Second Life is a big deal, culturally, and operationally. Linden Lab suggested in a blog post that the proximity-based voice communication will ultimately be a paid service--not unlike There, which offers voice for a one-time premium membership fee. While Thereians have been enjoying voice for some time, are Second Life residents prepared for this intrusion of reality in their virtual world? I don't think so, but I suspect many will opt to use the service in the long run. Those who won't opt in include gender-benders, roleplayers, those with speech impediments, the deaf, and those uncomfortable with their language skills or accents. Voice betrays one's true identity, regardless of one's avatar--with a "first life" voice, a voyage to Second Life is hardly an escape. Further thoughts by Prokofy Neva and commentators over at The Second Life Herald, as well as in an interesting comment by Clickable Culture reader WideyesPaula late last year.
 
     
 
   
 
  ... share via email del.icio.us digg bloglines fark reddit newsvine simpy blogmarks magnolia  
  7 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by csven
March 1, 2007 @ 12:07 pm
     
 
I've not read all the blogspeak circulating around this, but I'm wondering if anyone has considered having a voice system where *all* the voices are modulated so that no one's real life voice is used. In other words, everyone is effectively leveled into a more-or-less genderless stream of sounds using some uber-soundfont (which can maybe be pitch shifted in the same way that avatars are modified by using a few simple sliders). If gender is removed and voice instead becomes only sound, then I'm guessing many users would drop their objections. Who cares if the result is that everyone sounds like the computer from "Wargames" so long as it facilitates communication and doesn't reveal gender?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ordinal Malaprop
March 1, 2007 @ 12:35 pm
     
 
I don't think many will opt to use the service _routinely_ in the long run. Doing all of one's communication via voice is fantasically inconvenient. I go into it at further length on my journal but there's no logging, no multiple chats with different people (unless only one is voice and the rest are text, which means that voice is not routine), group discussions being even more chaotic than they are now (which is quite a bit), spam and irritating people wandering past are even more annoying, you can't step out to get a drink, come back and review what people have said in the meantime... those are just a few practical aspects, not even going into jarring incongruities of voice, the separation of SL and RL, people's feelings that their voice is private, problems with annoying flatmates or being at work...

I expect that it will be used in pretty much the same context that Skype is at the moment, only it will be more convenient so the frequency will be a little higher.

csven: A whole Grid of avatars speaking like the same voice synthesiser? That sounds positively nightmarish.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
March 1, 2007 @ 12:46 pm
     
 
I wouldn't call it "nightmarish", but it certainly wouldn't be realistic. Then again, neither is SL. In addition, I think leveling voice in such a manner would facilitate a better hybrid communication scheme by making both acceptable and remove much of the stigma attached to those who only use text.

Unfortunately, those who are either unable to speak or have impediments don't have much choice. That's unfortunate. I don't like what this development does to their situation. However, as a pragmatist, I understand that this development was inevitable, so rather than fight it I'd like to find an acceptable compromise. This seems like one option.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ordinal Malaprop
March 1, 2007 @ 1:13 pm
     
 
Having everyone sound the same sounds actively scary to me (also rather hard on listeners in a conversation). I think that proper configurable voice masking - i.e. to a degree that doesn't really exist at the moment - would go some way towards mollifying immersionists, but that still wouldn't change one's phrasing, accent and dialect, and there are an awful lot of other issues that would remain.

I don't really see any need to _fight_ this, though I would definitely challenge the idea that it is something particularly desired by residents in general in comparison to other features; it strikes me as something desired by a small group of residents, educators and conferencers and suchlike. If I thought its introduction would lead to social pressure to use voice regularly I might be actively opposed, but I don't think it will, just reading the opinions of commenters today and yesterday. I simply won't use it and will carry on as before, and I don't think I will be in a terrible minority. I'm sure it will be much more convenient than Skype et al for those residents who _do_ want to use it, and I wish them all joy.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ordinal Malaprop
March 1, 2007 @ 1:25 pm
     
 
Oh, I tell you what _would_ get me in the Linden Village waving a flaming torch - if I couldn't turn other people's voices _off_.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
March 1, 2007 @ 1:30 pm
     
 
I do agree that some things can't be modified, but then I can sometimes deduce some of the same things from chat ("ya'll", "ewwww", aso). To me the big issue is gender bias. If that can be removed, then a big problem with voice is removed, imo.

As to people *wanting* voice, I don't know but wouldn't expect the majority of current users to really care for its inclusion. However, I can see the addition as being a saleable feature. But then so are a number of other things. And based on recent problems with grid stress, I personally don't understand the focus on features which grow the user base.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace Coral
March 3, 2007 @ 2:52 am
     
 
There goes the neighborhood.

For all deaf and hard of hearing SL users, my partner, the members of the SL Deaf Underground group:

Got nuttin to say, just nuttin. *signs F-You LL in ASL*

Good news is, this new shiny will prolly add one more brick to the payload on the Titanic.

Damn... I forgot. I'm in "I Give Up Mode" again. Yall just ignore what I wrote and carry on.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
[ Detailed Search ]
Clickable Conversation
5224 comments
on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


Clickable Culture Feeds:

RSS 2.0 ATOM 1.0 ALL

Accessibility:

TEXT

Clickable Culture
Copyright (c)1999-2007 in whole or in part Tony Walsh.

Trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments owned by the Poster. Shop as usual, and avoid panic buying.