My little nephew enjoys playing WoW with us. He especially enjoys killing things and the pet battles. Unfortunately, he still has trouble reading some of the quest text (he just turned 7), so when we quest together, it’s very helpful to have someone telling him where to go, which button to click, etc. Naturally, grouping up solves many of these problems, and voice communication solves the rest. That way he can just follow us and do what we do and then when it’s time to turn in, we can see the same quest dialogue that he does and tell him which button to press to continue. The little guy was having a ton of fun playing with one or the other of us and mostly sticking to pet battles when he was on his own. Everything was going splendidly until we finally had time to play as a group (all 3 of us). You wouldn’t believe what a nightmare it is trying to find 3-way voice chat that is both free and compatible with a rural internet connection (i.e. limited bandwidth).
After having struggled with various software packages trying to establish simple 3-way voice chat I decided to price-check Vent as desperation measure. Boy do I wish I had just done that to start with. While Google Talk is a dream for 2-way chat, it’s incapable of 3-way chat without a complicated workaround, and the Google Hangouts feature (which does allow 3-way) is an unmitigated disaster. Google may be great at search engines, but they have a lot to learn about easy and intuitive features if they expect to break much ground in other realms of the digital world.
Meanwhile Skype (which I’ve never been a huge fan of) is an astonishing bandwidth hog (because of the way it handles voice calls as if they were video calls). Additionally, the new account creation screen bugged out on me to the point that I couldn’t create a new account. It kept claiming that my birthdate made me ineligible for an account. I’m over 18 so I’m not sure what the deal was. So, frustrated beyond all reason, I was fuming about how I wish there was something that would just let me talk to other people while I was playing WoW and then it hit me – DUH! Vent. I had no idea they were so reasonably priced at the lower levels. Obviously the prices rise quickly as you open up more slots, but the introductory level (5 slots) that we got is more than enough to meet our needs. It’s not free, but it’s cheap enough that it’s worth it to me. Even when you’re as poor as I am, $1.50/month is nothing to stress over.