The slew of new quests in WoW at the moment reminds me of how reliant MMOs still tend to be on quest text to tell their stories. Blizzard is clearly trying to experiment and move away from this a bit (with good use of cut scenes, NPCs who chat while you are leading them around, et al.) but the bulk of the information comes via text boxes.
And it’s usually thought that most people don’t bother reading the text. They just scroll down to see what the rewards are and what they need to do — and increasingly the quest target will be marked on a map anyway so you don’t even need to do that.
My first thought is how great it would be if other important information givers experimented as widely with ways to tell us things we need to know. Interactive bank statement, anyone? How about consumer rights when you sign a loan agreement? Of course, the difference is that in these cases, they might actually prefer you not to read the small print …
And secondly I was thinking that sometimes I really do prefer print. I’m not a fan of videoblogs and prefer text to podcasts because a) I can read them at my speed (which is fast) rather than at the rambling speed of the producer, and b) because I don’t have to dig out my headphones. Communicating via text in games might be slow compared to speech but you don’t lose important information because someone shouted over it. So maybe in games it is as much to do with the size and placement of the text box, and the tendency to info dump, as the fact it happens to use text.