I started playing WoW with the sound off about 6 or 7 months ago. It all started because I was just leveling a toon up at the time and playing with a headset on gets a bit uncomfortable after about 2 hours. I play in my living room on a laptop, so having the “sound on” without a headset would have annoyed my wife to no end and forced me to play on the kitchen table. Two or more hours in one of our kitchen chairs is quite a bit more uncomfortable than the headset, so the easiest thing to do was just turn the sound off while I was leveling.
It took some getting used to since there were a lot of sounds that clued me into my surroundings, but I eventually adjusted and learned to rely more on the visual clues. One unintended benefit of playing without sound is that I found I could be a bit more aware of my real world surroundings. This meant I could keep an eye on the TV or hold a regular conversation with my wife. Two simple things that did wonders for keeping my wife happier and allowed me to ironically increase my amount of playtime in the evening without sacrificing that relationship.
So now I play without sound and while I sacrifice some of the game experience, the overall effect on my life experience is more positive.
This is why I hate Vent now. I get that communication is important and that’s why I won’t hesitate to put on the headphones and load up vent to participate in a raid. There is important stuff to throw out there and typing it just doesn’t make sense if it needs to be communicated quickly. My issue is that those times are few and far between and it’s mostly just three or four guys chatting it up. Hell, I used to be one of these guys, so I’m not casting blame on them – I just don’t want to listen to them talk. I almost wish you could join two different Vent channels at the same time with different buttons to talk. Press A to talk about the raid, press B to chat about bullshit. That way, I could just put B on mute and let you BS about the new game for the Wii while I got all the information that I needed from A. Sometimes, it feels like the crap is just like Barrens chat except in my head.
The other thing that I find interesting is that when I do play with the sound on now – I am amazed at how repetitive it sounds. Especially in groups or PvP where it’s just a cluster of the same noises over and over. Think about it – every ability has a sound to it, and everyone is casting one of those abilities pretty much every time the Global Cooldown will allow. Even worse, many abilities share a sound with another class. Honestly, the only thing I even miss anymore are the emotes.