Why Voice Acting is Ruining Games

Using Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 as prime examples, this brief editorial on BeefJack argues that the push for voice acting in video games largely "ruins" the experience. It's an argument we've heard several times before, and for more reasons that their piece covers:
Apparently, text is no longer considered enough to portray a character's personality or mood. Even MMOs, where blocks of text often accompany quests, are beginning to introduce voice acting. Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 have both confirmed that their quests will be accompanied by voice work and cinematics. This may seem like a step forward, an advancement in the way videogames work in general, with characters brought to life. Which may be true in some cases -but voice acting can ruin a perfectly good game.

I won't spend too much time complaining about how voice acting can decrease the quality of writing because I'm sure you've heard it all before. Setting up a mood through writing takes skill: something that would take a sentence to depict through text can often be summed up with one spoken word. So something like (I feel like I could blow a brahmin's heads off right now!) can become (ARGH!) for about the same effect.


I get it voice acting in games like MMOs is an attempt to get people to listen to the story instead of skipping over the blocks of text. But the real way to do that is by creating a compelling storyline with excellent writing, not by forcing us to listen. Unless you can give me an interesting reason for it, I don't care why you want me to kill sheep and bring you their wool. Tell me a story: otherwise I will be skipping over your words, whether they are written or spoken.