The “forced microphone” policy.

Whenever games allow you to use the microphone, Bub and I opt out of this without fail. We also tend to mute the mic on games that allow us to do this. But whenever games force you to use the microphone and listen in on others’ conversations and there is no way to prevent this, even if this game is otherwise the best game, this is a game that we take a hard pass on. And we have to do this because Bub has to be protected.

Bub’s vocal inflections let everyone know that he is disabled, and this is something that he can not hide. It would then make me make the incredibly hard choice of not playing the game with him so that people on the other end of the game did not hear his vocal inflections, or having him play alongside me and risking being asked inappropriate questions about him (“is he retarded?”, “is your son retarded?”), or making fun of him for the way he sounds. So I would either play the game that I had bought him without him to protect him, which would exclude him, or I would run the risk of Bub being bullied and made fun of by attempting to include him if a bully is on the other end of the mic. So the easiest way to solve both of these problems is: don’t buy games that force you to use the microphone. Research the game, find that out, make that decision. Done.

The only way that we work around this is if you can choose who you party, or team, up with. If I can select friends of mine who I trust to play the game with, that’s different. That makes the game playable. But if it’s a random distribution of players and there is forced mic use, I don’t purchase the game and we don’t play it.

I wish more game developers took this into consideration, because I am sure that Bub isn’t the only person that something like this applies to. I am sure that there are many other disabled individuals out there who have to stay completely silent on the mic during games like this in fear that they will be bullied if if they speak. There may be individuals who have severe social anxiety for whom forced mic use petrifies them, and this may apply to them too. There are aspects of gaming culture that need improvement. This is one of them.

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