Inarticulacy In the UK: Brits Don’t Talk

By Kieron Gillen on November 6th, 2009 at 11:36 am.

Yabbering buffoons.
John B noticed this little quote-span-into-article over at C&VG where Chet opines that the British are “notorious non-talkers” in online games. Basically, while Americans yabber constantly, the Brits take a more taciturn approach. This will, apparently, cause some major problems when playing L4D2′s realism mode. Talk or die. TALK OR DIE. What do you make of it. Is this true? Or is it that Americans think that because Brits just don’t like speaking to you. And understandably. Give us our tea, you bastards. You don’t even drink the stuff.

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215 Comments »

  1. Rick says:

    Yes, I refuse to speak to Americans because I wanted the tea they dumped in Boston harbour.

  2. ChaosSmurf says:

    Can we have an RPS article about how American’s never shut up :(

    • Tyshalle says:

      It’s not the incessant talking that should bother you. It’s the fact that we rarely know what the fuck we’re blabbering on about that should do it.

  3. Jamie A says:

    I would talk, but whenever I try to use my microphone over a steam game it goes berserk! Horrible noise galore!
    That’s why I use Skype to chat to friends while playing, and boy what a great sound quality!

    • Ingenu says:

      I’d advise you to try out mumble (free software) for voice chat, it has low latency, takes very little CPU and so is ideal for action games.
      There are free mumble servers available, or you can run a server on your own machine.

  4. monchberter says:

    Well, my own Team Fortress 2 community is rather verbose, ok, so this is due to a few overcontributors, but from what i’ve read on Kotaku and CVG, most people seem to be taking the opposite tack (on consoles admittedly) with the opinion that the majority of American voices are far from tactical, but abusive immature trolls.

    I can say for myself that i’m on the mic, but not all the time.

  5. Jacques says:

    I’ve not had a mic until recently, but it always seems to be Americans that try to tell me what to do when I play L4D, which generally then involves me shooting them in the face with whatever weapon is handy.

  6. Starky says:

    Indeed the difference is we Brits speak when we think something needs to be said, or we’re having a friendly banter with people we know (often on a dedicated server we are a regular on). While many Americans I have known will jabber on constantly about nothing at all, seemingly having a need to fill the silence with their own voices.

    Personally I like having the silences there.

    • HidesHisEyes says:

      I notice this as well, especially on steam games. I seriously don’t go on CS:S to hear you guys discuss your boring yankee weekends.

      Game chat is for saying things like “There’re 5 of them round the corner and they’ve all got shotguns”, not “lol yeah lol lol.”

  7. Kester says:

    Do they have any data to back this up? Valve are the kings of data collection, so if he's actually speaking from evidence it's pretty interesting. If he's just throwing around stereotypes about stiff upper lips it's rather less interesting.

  8. Tei says:

    I have found some servers are mute, to the moment you say some inane thing, then everyone “remenbers” that can talk, and start chatting. I start some of these inane comments, as seems games where people talk are better than games where people is mute. I can have some silent communication with teammates, words are not always needed, but words may make stuff more fun.

  9. Been says:

    It appears this “Chet” never played TF2 on the INXS Server.

  10. Ian says:

    I’ve never played a game with voice chat with folks I don’t know, but how much I talked would depend entirely on how chatty others seemed I would think.

  11. Psychopomp says:

    The TF2 server I frequent, Baron’s Pub, has the odd brit that comes in every now and again, and they never shut up. Then again, no one on Baron’s ever shuts up. We’re always talking about something. We like it that way.

    I have, however, noticed that when a L4D game is formed in RPS, I normally end up having to take the lead, since the rest don’t really say much unless something bad happens.

  12. Riotpoll says:

    I only use my mic when on ventrilo, as it’s the only programme where I can have my voice boosted loud enough for people to hear, as it has an option to turn individual people louder. Also, if you play with the same people long enough you don’t need voice comms anyway as you know what they’ll do in most situations.

  13. Sobric says:

    I think a lot of Brits are talking, they just have the decency not to have their “push to talk” button pressed.

    I for one, am usually spitting and cursing at the game, the opposition, my team, the moon, god and the numerous Americans who just WONT SHUT THE FUCK UP.

  14. Freudian Trip says:

    I don’t talk because my microphone makes me sound like the zodiac killer.

  15. El_MUERkO says:

    On BF:Bad Company everyone yapped, all nationalities from what I heard, the American “fag/gay” kiddies were often out filth’d by the English, I remember one verbose Liverpudlian spouting such a torrent of abuse as to get universal praise from the servers Americans, much ‘I have to remember that one’ :)

    Maybe the British are less willing to start talking, but once it starts they seem perfectly happy to join in.

  16. Schmung says:

    I used to play on Barons Pub back when it was a TS server..

    It certainly seems to be the case in my experience that teh Yanks will blather on about anything whereas the Brits only pipe up to moan or convey information.

  17. Rinox says:

    As a non-native speaker I always feel a little self-conscious about using voice comm in games. My English is more than good enough, but there’s always an accent so…

    But generally, I think the Yabbering Americans vs. Taciturn Brits idea holds up. It certainly is in line with my experiences. Even in games like L4D with friends the Americans always seem to have less qualms about using the voice comm than my Brit friends.

  18. Magnus says:

    Used to be plenty of chatter from both sides of the pond when I played the HL1 mod Firearms with [KOD].

    We had to set up Roger Wilco mind, so it was just clan members talking through matches, none of this modern free-for-all malarkey.

    Here are a few quotes I find quite apt.

    “The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.”
    –Benjamin Franklin

    “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something.”
    – Plato

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
    – Abraham Lincoln

  19. spinks says:

    I was blogging about that today, and looking at some of the responses on the article. I think it’s a mixture of different cultural norm (we just are more hesitant to talk to strangers anyway, plus americans more likely to engage in smack talk/ gangsta talk), and open servers tending to attract the bottom feeders.

  20. Pl4t0 says:

    In my experience, it’s somewhat true. There are certainly quite a few talkative brits though (especially in HL2 mods, like Insurgency or ZP:S) .

  21. Cooper says:

    I do not need running commentary on the game we are playing.

    I KNOW that there’s a Boomer, I can hear it. I know you’ve been caught by a smoker as I can see AND hear you.

    What I don’t know is where you want to holdout for the incoming horde, where the second pistol or which way the tank is coming from.

    However, this I don’t get, because of point 2:

    I do not need to hear about how great ‘House’ was last night.

    Sure, house is an excellent TV show, but that’s secondary to THE HUNDREDS OF ZOMBIES WHICH ARE CURRENTLY TRYING TO EAT MY FACE

  22. Bforge says:

    I really dislike that Chet guy for some reason.

    Anyway, been on UK servers in L4D more than a few times, and when a team was using mics they were all talking normally. Not yapping or blabbering constantly about irrelevant crap, but just talking when the need arised.

  23. Rinox says:

    Incidentally, how much do we know about Realism Mode anyway? I mean, L4D2 on expert is already pretty unforgiving (even if hardly impossible). What’s Realism Mode gonna be? No medkits ever, permanent deaths, no pipe bombs?

    Or just one-hit kill zombies?

    • Psychopomp says:

      1)Zombies can take a load of damage, but headshots still work fine.

      2)You no longer find survivors in closets. They must be revived by a defibrillator.

      3)None of the glowy silhouettes on everything, including other survivors.

      4)Friendly fire does a lot more damage

    • Rinox says:

      I see, thanks for the info! So basically teamwork is made a lot harder/more crucial then.

    • Vandelay says:

      Quite honestly, these are all things that should be on Expert mode. It is a pretty easy when you are playing with at least two other competent players. I hope there is a Versus realism mode too.

      Still, it is a welcome addition.

  24. Chaz says:

    If people are talking about the game and relaying team information and such, I’m fine with it. However in my experience, there’s always one who just wants to waffle constantly about anything and everything that’s not to do with the game, and it’s nearly always an American I’m afraid to say. Having to listen to some guy just droning on and on in the backgroud is bloody anoying and distracting. Of course then someone will tell him to “shut the f**k up”, and from there on it’s all down hill. And thats on a good server. Usually all you hear is a bunch of squeaky voiced American teens coming out with a constant stream of profanities and insults about how you suck and are such a fag. And thats from the guys on your team.

  25. Persus-9 says:

    I think he’s right. Brits do need to talk more and a lot of the time as Tei has mentioned it just needs someone to be the first person to talk and then everyone else wakes up and starts chatting nicely. I’m making an effort to be that person in L4D these days because I’ve got a feeling L4D would be a lot more fun if people would just talk more.

  26. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    My PC is in the living room of our flat. Once I reach for the headset with mic I get mercilessly ribbed by my wife for being a complete geek and/or having some kind of military commander / Madonna fetish.

    = silence.

    • dartt says:

      You might benefit from seriously asking her to stop doing that.

      Seriously, it would be like you calling her a tart when she reaches for the make-up, not nice.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      It’s all in good humour! But in our front room I couldn’t really start bawling ‘The demoman’s a spy’ without disturbing Strictly Come Dancing or Mad Men or something. Actually if Mad Men’s on I’ll turn TF2 off.

    • dartt says:

      Fair enough :D

      I just had an image of you being mocked by your bully of a wife and I felt very sorry for you.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      No she’s not a bully. It’s just the incomprehension thing that was discussed in the Gamer Stigma thread. She couldn’t even get into World of Goo…

  27. ElBandito says:

    Try turning off skype to fix this. I have the same problem with using Vent while Skype is running. Its to do with two apps listening to the same input device (apparently)

  28. Ffitz says:

    The British gamer simply greets other players on the server in the traditional manner (weather, tea, polite enquiries as to the current status of wives and children), and then keeps his own counsel until circumstances determine it necessary to impart specific information to one’s team. That one has spotted a Boomer by the lorry, for example, or that a Hunter has had the sheer temerity to knock the player to the ground, that one’s suit is in danger of being creased, and that a degree of assistance from a nearby companion would be very much appreciated.

  29. tigershuffle says:

    I used to play Iron Crescendo (Red Orchestra mod thang) and because it had two rounds of play on the weekend…..one was more frequented by European members and a later more USofA one……………..

    For some reason the v.talkative yanks couldnt understand a word of my lovely Hull accent….so I gave up communicating with them
    “Targer tank on t’ rart side o rerd” would be met with “what you say bud?” and then instadeath.. :(

    Had far more fun with a Glaswegian and a bloke from Helsinki……. because we knew we would just stick to relevant information………and not a load of constant “whoopin an a hollerin”

    • psyk says:

      Thats what they pretend to do as soon as you say something wrong or that they agree with they jump on it and thats all ages from kids to adults is sad.

  30. bill says:

    I don’t play games online, so i don’t use voice chat. But to be honest, one of the reasons I don’t play games online is that i have this irrational fear/hatred of the necessary voice chat.

    Watching a few gameplay videos on youtube, of people running around a war-torn landscape littered with smoke and wreckage – yet overlaid with shrill teen voices talking crap about pointless crap, and using loads of dumb sounding niche terminology. It sounds like one of the circles of hell… but i’m not sure which.

    If i ever did play a game with voice chat, i think i’d stay as quiet as possible and just speak when needed. If the vocies of the other players hadn’t made me jam pencils in my ears by that point…

  31. CMaster says:

    For myself, a reasonably quiet Brit there’s a couple of factors.
    One is that when playing a game, especially a reasonably intense multiplayer game, I (and a lot of other people I know) keep voice chat to what is relevant. In TF2 especially, I only reach for the voice button to say things like “Spy demo” or “call for the uber when you need it”. L4D adds the need for speculation on what is ahead, chose route around the train car etc. When in any of these games somebody is using voicecomms to blather on about their trip to PC World last week, I normally end up muting them.

    The other is that I’m on Ventrilo whenever I’m gaming. We chat among ourselves on there plenty. I’m not so interested in talking with people who are for the time being strangers. We also learned long ago playing big op-wars in Neocron that when stuff starts happening, voice-comm discipline is neccessary.

  32. derFeef says:

    Well – I see it that way. US folks need to talk to get their things going – Europeans just need to look and listen to understand what to do.

  33. Archonsod says:

    In my experience it’s the same thing in real life. Most Americans can and will talk the hind legs of the donkey if given the opportunity. Most Brits need to be prodded with a burning poker to elicit more than a one line response.

    • TeeJay says:

      After a year working in Japan with a mixed bunch of people I deduced, re. talking/emoting/expressing:

      Americans > Canadians/Aussies/Brits/Kiwis > Japanese

      I also concluded that there are both advantages and disadvantages to ‘lots of talking’ versus ‘lots of silence’. If you have grown up with one ‘style’ the complete opposite can make you uncomfortable. As someone in the ‘middle’ somewhere I had sympathy for both ‘sides’.

    • Kalkyrie says:

      Why do you need more than a one line response? ;)

  34. Gap Gen says:

    An equal problem is someone who won’t shut up about random stuff when people are trying to shout out targets or discuss strategies. We once came up with an elaborate plan for squad tactics in ArmA 2 after a team of 8 people got too unwieldy for the server, and then never used it as people stopped playing it.

    In public servers, yeah, I never really talk much (although this is in games like CoD4, which was basically a huge brawl on public servers). Haven’t really tried something like L4D on a public server.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “An equal problem is someone who won’t shut up about random stuff when people are trying to shout out targets or discuss strategies.”

      That is fucking annoying.

  35. aoanla says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    I don’t play games online, so i don’t use voice chat. But to be honest, one of the reasons I don’t play games online is that i have this irrational fear/hatred of the necessary voice chat.
    Watching a few gameplay videos on youtube, of people running around a war-torn landscape littered with smoke and wreckage – yet overlaid with shrill teen voices talking crap about pointless crap, and using loads of dumb sounding niche terminology. It sounds like one of the circles of hell… but i’m not sure which.
    If i ever did play a game with voice chat, i think i’d stay as quiet as possible and just speak when needed. If the vocies of the other players hadn’t made me jam pencils in my ears by that point…

    Quoted to save me writing basically the same sentiments again.
    (I do play online games, but I don't talk in them. This is partly because I've never bothered to buy a microphone, which is something of a catch-22, I accept :D.
    That said, I can echo the sentiments of others here that I've been on plenty of servers with Brits talking on them, and in general, the conversation is actually tactical. I've also been on servers with Americans, and the conversation is predominantly… not. Same seems true of the French, which is unsurprising, given stereotypes :D)
    ((Oh, and another thing: Chet's just convinced me not to buy L4D2, since apparently he doesn't want people who don't talk to play his game. Good diplomacy, Chet. ))

  36. Fatrat says:

    I personally jabber away, always keeping people updated if it’s needed.

    Say for instance i’m playing L4D. I tell my teammates whenever i get caught by a special infected, tell them if i spot a special, things like that. They don’t need to know about every zombie, just the special ones that can screw you up bad. Aside from that, i won’t just talk about no-relevant shit, not unless it’s just a chill game we’re playing, something more slow paced.

    I like it when people talk and can’t enjoy a game fully without comms if it’s something large scale or fast paced.

    I’m actually in a closed beta for a GTA-esque game (no prizes for guessing) and while it even has inbuilt VOIP, people tend to not use it. I even got a group the other day and asked people to come on my private TS2 server and they said they didn’t want to.

    I find it quite annoying playing without comms, as i said. And i’d prefer it if people DID talk more. I’m in the UK and i find we talk enough, unless playing with strangers. Other Euros tend to speak a bit more, specially the French who just babble in their own language and expect you to know what they’re saying (i’m still talking about in L4D by the way) and Americans? Well i haven’t got to play much with them much as of late, but if they DO talk a lot, then they’re obviously going to do well in things like L4D2. Silence kills.

    Anyway, essay over. Everybody get your mics working and stop being so shy, thx.

    PS – It doesn’t matter if your english is bad, it’s better than nothing. Plus, accents are fun.

  37. Dispirited says:

    Is it not well understood that when distributing a game globally, it is often necessary to adapt the game to the different cultures where the game is going to be sold?

    Perhaps instead of highlighting the inadequacies of their target market, the developers should be spending their time localizing their game to suit the culture they are hoping to sell to.

  38. aoanla says:

    Anonymous Coward said:

    Anyway, essay over. Everybody get your mics working and stop being so shy, thx.

    PS – It doesn’t matter if your english is bad, it’s better than nothing. Plus, accents are fun.

    My English is perfect, I just don't like talking. :D
    Guess I won't be playing L4D2, then. (Not that I bought L4D, for the same reason. I do wish people would go back to making online games where you aren't expected to have a mic and chatter all the time…)

    • Persus-9 says:

      In L4D you certainly aren’t expected to have a mic and chatter all the time. The game probably works better with more chatter but in almost every game I’ve ever played there has been less than a couple of dozen words said in the whole campaign.

    • Fatrat says:

      Yeah, you don’t really need to ‘talk’ on L4D, as said above, it just works better if you do. But the characters themselves have a lot of dialog and such that lets you know what’s going on quite well. So L4D is a bad example i guess as you can get away with it just using your ears a lot of the time.

      Many games don’t have characters that shout out their current state/situation though, which makes it more of a problem. But hey, there’s always typing. Though that’s a bit slow when you’re mid-firefight, etc. =P

  39. Jakson Breen says:

    Regarding the article, I’d have to say that it’s false. In my opinion, Brits talk more than Americans… or at least they do in my EVE Corp. Oh, and apparently you all live in castles and communicate by carrier pigeon? =)

    In seriousness though, except for one American I know which is particularly obnoxious, I know no difference between the rates at which people talk. I do believe however that the occasional obnoxious person stands out from everyone that is fairly quiet. It just so happens that the majority of obnoxious gamers happens to be American, but don’t read too far into that. I’ve heard the obnoxious British gamer, so it’s not unheard of.

    • Kalkyrie says:

      Speaking as another EVE player (from Lyrus Associates, amusingly), we Brits can talk the hind leg off a donkey (our alliance ‘leader’ is renowned for 500 word monologues).
      Of course we then STFU as soon as a battle starts. Nothing wrecks a battleplan quicker than people going ‘I’m hit!’ over voice comms as the leader is trying to issue tactial commands. (I think this holds true for all nationalities in EVE, since it’s more obvious there, and has more painful losses).

    • Kalkyrie says:

      Speaking as another EVE player (from Lyrus Associates, amusingly), we Brits can talk the hind leg off a donkey (our alliance ‘leader’ is renowned for 500 word monologues).
      Of course we then STFU as soon as a battle starts. Nothing wrecks a battleplan quicker than people going ‘I’m hit!’ over voice comms as the leader is trying to issue tactial commands. (I think this holds true for all nationalities in EVE, since it’s more obvious there, and has more painful losses. The higher average age/maturity helps as well).

  40. monchberter says:

    The irony of a Valve employee lamenting a lack of speech when their multiplayer games feature some of the most entertaining and comprehensive voice commands in any game

  41. plugmonkey says:

    I’ve played several games of L4D with total strangers with headsets, and we do talk. It’s just that rather than an incessant stream or consciousness, it’s restricted to critical survival information mixed with the occasional dry one-liner that renders everyone helpless with giggles.

  42. invisiblejesus says:

    Huh. Granted, I only play with a couple Brits, but I hadn’t noticed a difference. They seem as talkative as any American, moreso than some really.

  43. Lu-Tze says:

    L4D2′s realism mode is going to become an awful cesspit of people trying to be as tactical as possible. I fully expect the increased friendly fire damage to result in people calling out almost everytime they are even moving to avoid accidentally eating some bullets from someone, and stripping everything down into simple barked commands like we are Delta Force or some other nonsense.

    Voice chat is so you can scream “OH GOD IT’S GOT ME IT’S GOT ME HELP HELP IT’S GOT ME” and make witty James Bondy one liners when you Cr0wn a witch.

  44. The Sombrero Kid says:

    generally if there’s an American on a server I’m playing I’ll quit and find another, the tf2 servers i generally play on are generally filled with talkative Englishmen, which is slightly less grating.

  45. RiptoR says:

    I play NeoTokyo almost exclusive on a British server, and the guys running the server are constantly chatting and planning tactics on voicecom.

    Also, a friend of mine from Manchester talked a lot when we used to play online coop.

    So in my experience: Brits DO talk a lot in online games.

  46. spacerumsfeld says:

    I, as an American, am highly offended by the characterization of my people in this post.

    I DO drink tea!

  47. Gundrea says:

    I’d say the Brits are just as talkative once you get them going by swearing revenge for 800 years of oppression. Take that ya limey! Of course being Irish and having a great deal of experience playing with my fellow Irish I can state categorically that online an Irishman is distuingished by every second word from his mic being F**k

  48. Dr Lulz says:

    4stam 4strength Rubber Boat?

  49. DXN says:

    Actually, this is definitely something I’d noticed. Well, no — when I played public games they were mostly with Europeans, not just British. So quite often there was a language barrier, which meant people talked much less (and less successfully). But even then, I noticed Americans were definitely much more chatty than us lot, and it helped a whole lot as well as making the game more fun, so I’d seek them out when I could, even if it meant playing with a higher ping.

    I really wish there was an option to set your language, so the matchmaker could at least try and pair up homophones together.

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