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Tuesday’s Tip – Tone

PrickleIt wasn’t too long ago that I was driving home from Georgia with my girlfriend. We were talking and she asked me a question. I answered in what I thought was a similar fashion to how I always do but she was certain I meant something else than the answer I gave. She said I had a tone. Why is this important? Tone translates directly into our lives as MMORPG players. It greatly affects how you interact with your friends, guild mates, and server community. You might be unaware of your tone but if someone else perceives it you can find yourself in a big misunderstanding.

Tone is present in verbal and textual communication. The biggest problem with the latter is that it is even harder to get a read on the person. This is why people will frequently include an emoticon to better convey their meaning. Everything is safe to say if you include a smiley after it! In some cases doing so just isn’t appropriate. Today’s tip is how to take your tone from that of an angry parent to a neutral, less off putting one. How many times have you been in guild chat or on a forum and witnessed text like this:

This encounter is stupid. The developers did x, y, and z wrong. They should change a, b, and c.

How about this:

Oh you put your points into build a? Yeah that isn’t going to get you the best DPS. You need to respec and go 50 a and 50 b.

I dare say that a lot of conversations occur in this fashion. There is something about being in an MMORPG that gives players the idea that they’re an expert and authority in numerous fields. In both examples the tone is fairly superior and somewhat negative. The second example also adds condescension into it. The worst part about it is that the player who said either may have no intention of being superior, negative or condescending. That is simply how they communicate online and the world at large has not corrected it. Lets look at a different way to say the first example:

I’m really not a fan of how this encounter works. This x, y, and z doesn’t really make sense to me. I’m not sure what the developer is after. I think it might might more sense if they changed a, b, and c.

And with the second:

Your points are in build a? I tried that build too and it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I’ve found I can get more dps with 50 a and 50 b. You could try that some time if you’d like. You might see more dps like I did but you might not.

Essentially you’ve got the same information as before but other players aren’t going to see you as someone on the attack. In the second example the player might actually be willing to try your specialization now. The key to remember is that most MMORPG players are adults and they don’t generally appreciate being talked down to. The same is true for developers. Remember that how you phrase your text and the tone it carries can easily sabotage what you want to accomplish. Sometimes short and to the point just won’t work. So the next time you’re giving someone advice or submitting feedback consider your tone!

For more advice like this check out The Guild Leader’s Companion.

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6 Responses to Tuesday’s Tip – Tone

  1. Jason says:

    I agree with you, but each of your revisions is longer than the original. I’ve found that most times when you encounter statements in games that feel like you are being attacked can actually be attributed to people not liking typing and trying to be short. Tone is less important to most people than time and effort.

    This is, after all, the era where people often respond to a well thought out and reasoned argument with “no u”.

    • Ferrel says:

      You’re absolutely right as far as that goes. I think a lot of times brevity is the cause of poor tone. I’m not sure how we got so lazy that we decided writing was too slow so we went to typing. Then somehow you became too long. Now it is just u.

  2. Melissa says:

    Along with the shortness goes that we are usually interpreting these things incorrectly. Oddly enough, I didn’t see your second example as rude at all. It was short and to the point, but not everyone is given the gift of eloquence. I have a tendency to be this way when writing, but it is because the majority of my writing is in the field of writing where being short and to the point is a good thing.

    We all have different backgrounds is what we should all remember, not just when writing, but when reading as well.

  3. My recommendation to people is that if you want to have brevity *and* communicate tone then you should use emoticons. If you see a sentence and you think ‘that might be taken the wrong way’ then it only takes two characters to help that:

    : )
    When a sentence ends in a smiley it is immediately taken different. Emoticons are the modern versions of punctuation in my opinion. An exclamation communicates information about the tone of the the last sentence, as do emoticons. They are brief, can be added at the end as opposed to rewording and are sort of like ending a sentence with a smile in person. You can use other emoticons and other shorthands too if you want to actually communicate being stern ‘: |’ or mad: ‘/angry’. The interesting thing is that all of these communicate awareness of your tone which will defuse the situation even if you *are* angry.

    -Stephen

    • nugget says:

      Careful with those smilies! Mebbe I’m just one of the few paranoids out there but, if the initial examples had smilies behind their rudeness, I’d have taken them as hypocritical cowards to boot. Just like those people who say mean things, then go j/k!

      …I want to meanly and rudely strangle them.

      Just nuggets for thought!

    • Ferrel says:

      I like your point. I tend to use ! a lot to show my excitement even if grammatically a sentence wouldn’t normally call for it.

      Of course now we have to discuss the tone of a emoticon. Is that a genuine :) or a snarky one!

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