We're storming the enemy, ready to take the last point and claim victory. I look around at the rest of my Battlefield 2 buddies, before surging forward for what will hopefully be the final push. It's been an incredible round and I can't wait to go again straight after.
That's when the microphone symbol appears on the left-hand side of the screen, and a second later some idiot starts blasting loud music down his headset. A second player joins in, shouting random abuse at no-one in particular. Other players tell them to be quiet, but this only makes them louder. Within the space of around 20 seconds, the end of the game is ruined.
Of course, I could quite easily go into the options and mute these guys, but that would involve stopping play for a little while as I mess around in the menu. Instead, I hope that they will stop - but as you can probably guess, they don't. Five minutes later, our team wins the round - but I no longer feel like continuing play, thanks to a couple of immature microphone-warriors.
If you play shooters online often, this may well be a familiar story. Yet it's fair to say that voice-spamming is not exactly a common occurrence - sure, it can really spoil the atmosphere now and again, but the majority of players can put up with it. Instead, the question I put forward to you is this - can in-game voice chat be used for its actual purpose, or is voice-chatting bad, period?
How many times have you been part of a game in which a couple of team-mates are trying to play the game 'properly' - talking tactics and helping each other out - only for other members of the team to start shouting at them, demanding they shut up, or even vote-kicking them out of the game? These players are using the voice chat in the way it was meant to be used, and yet they are still receiving abuse from their team-mates.
You've probably witnessed this before if you play online regularly, but why exactly does it happen? Is it that nobody wants to play the game as a team, or perhaps it's simply that those people talking are seen as irritating? Could it be that players are now so used to feeling angry at voice-spammers, that anyone talking at all can rile them up?
Talking in-game is an important subject to me, as it was the act of in-game voice chat that landed me my first writing job, and indeed began my whole writing career. I played a lot of Counter Strike: Source while I was at university, and I'd play each night in a popular Dutch server.
I like to talk with people over voice chat about the game in hand, but I found that a lot of the time if I tried talking to other people, I'd receive rude requests to keep my mouth shut. Eventually I discovered this particular server, in which the regulars were all very friendly and didn't mind in-game talking at all.
To cut a long story short, after a couple of months the Dutch owners of the server asked me if I'd be interested in writing for their gaming website, as they liked my demeanour and thought I'd work well with them. I then spent the next 18 months writing for them - and all thanks to my trusty microphone.
A tale of in-game chat with a happy ending then, but I'd venture a guess that not as many occurrences end this well. Indeed, even I have stopped using my microphone as much, since the number of people who like to (quite ironically) voice their concerns over other people using the in-game chat - whether it be for valid reasons or not - appears to be on the uprise.
Fortunately, downloadable VoIP programs such as Teamspeak and Ventrilo allow players to chat with their friends as they play, keeping voice chat separate from the game. Yet this is partially missing the point - if I'm playing a team game, then talking to other members of my squad can be essential, and if everyone is using separate VoIP programs to talk to each other, there can be quite a communication problem.
I'm not saying we should all simply learn to live with each other's voices while we play - if someone doesn't want to listen to the yappings of another, they shouldn't have to - but it would be great if certain individuals could be a little more understanding of those who want to fully experience the game. Maybe next time, they could even try joining in - who knows, they might enjoy it.