If you’re not familiar with the Xbox Live service, it’s Microsoft’s online component for their Xbox 360 console. It’s what allows people to play games online on the 360.
I first signed up for the service in early 2007. One of the neat things about Xbox Live is how voice communication is universally integrated into the service. Nearly every single game allows you to chat with the people you’re playing online with. While this is great, it is also the source of my greatest frustration with Xbox Live.
I soon found out that listening to other players meant listening to young teenagers and pre-teens who think calling someone a homosexual is an insult. Not far behind those comments were the racial ones. They weren’t directly at me necessarily but just hearing idiots like that made me angry. You can mute people but it’s a chore to do, when all you want to do is just play the game. At times, I just didn’t even plug the headset in but you lose that crucial communication element that’s sometimes required for some online games.
After a while, I just stopped playing online all together, preferring to play only the single player portion of games. I would play online if I knew it’d be with just friends I knew but that’s rare.
It was with great intrepidation that this weekend I started playing Burnout Paradise online, with the headset plugged in. To my great surprise, it was a pleasant experience. People were cordial, helpful, and on good behaviour. There was hardly all hostility at all, in fact, I can’t remember any actually. Perhaps it was the nature of online in Paradise. For the most part, online gameplay is cooperative-based in Paradise and it benefits everyone to be helpful. In any case, the six hours I spent online this weekend was a lot of fun.
While I have hope, the cynical side of me thinks this was an isolated case. Perhaps, I would think differently had I been playing Halo 3.