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Gaming gets telephony

Multiplayer Net gamers can taunt opponents in their own words--telephony is now part of the action.

Game players on the Internet will now have the opportunity to taunt opponents in their own words thanks to a set of deals to be announced next week.

Voxware plans to announce partnerships with three online game companies--Kesmai, Boxer Jam, and Total Entertainment Network--that will bring Internet telephone capabilities to the rough and tumble world of multiplayer Net games, Voxware executives said today.

Multiplayer Net games are beginning to draw more and more users online, connecting them into battles with far-flung friends and strangers through online variants of games such as Duke Nukem 3D and Quake.

Not all the games are of the blood-and-guts genre. Some allow users to play traditional "turn-based" games such as chess or checkers over the Net.

Voxware, which makes audio and voice compression software, is adding a new wrinkle to online games by letting users talk to their opponents through an Internet telephone. The three game companies will license Voxware's Internet telephony toolkit to integrate telephony directly into their game clients, said Joan Spindel, vice president of marketing and communications for Voxware.

Voxware has already cut a deal with one of the biggest multiplayer game services, Mpath Interactive, to add telephony to online games.