The Hype About Skype >> As Good As It Sounds
I was skeptical at first, after having shaky results from voice chat over AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. But after trying it out, I have to say, the sound quality on Skype is incredible. It's better than our cell phones, better than our land line -- the best online voice chat I've used.
And Skype is incredibly easy to use. It took less than five minutes to download, and installed quickly -- you don't need to fill out any technical information about your computer settings to set it up. Once installed, just plug in a microphone or headset/microphone combo and you're ready to go. There's a quick "test" call you can use to make sure everything is set up properly -- then you're ready to roll!
It sounds so simple, but given the fact that Skype works so well and is completely free (both to download and to use) it offers some delicious gaming applications.
I've already used Skype to chat with several of my GeekBuddies -- literally from coast-to-coast -- while playing games at BrettSpielWelt, and have to say, it is a phenomenal resource. Especially for two player games. The ability to chat freely over Skype offers an unmatched means to teach a new player how to play a game online, answer quick questions about the user interface and discuss the game events -- things that may be too clumsy or time-consuming to adequately do by typing mid-game.
I have not yet tried a larger "chat" with 3 or more people on Skype, but I would certainly give it a try. More voices may be a bit distracting, especially without the visual cues you use during normal conversation to pick up on nonverbal context (even for things as basic as "who is talking? whose voice is that?"). But with the right group of people and the right game, I think Skype can richly enhance a variety of online gaming experiences!
You can check out Skype here. If you decide to download Skype and want to give it a try some time and play something online at BSW, drop me a line -- or give me a quick e-call!