Thought of the Day: People vs Text

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.

Look at these … blogs!

Honest Scrap Award

Honest Scrap Award

I feel awkward, and proud, and very humbled that Larisa@The Pink Pigtail Inn has nominated me for a blog award. And I’d like to thank my cat, the colour yellow, the plastic armoured landshark on my desk, and all three of my readers. I love you all!!

This is a meme, and a made up award, but the reason it’s meaningful to me is because it came from a blogger whose work I love and who continues to be a huge inspiration to me here.

And I couldn’t be happier to have a good excuse to write about some of my favourite blogs.  The meme part is totally optional, by the way, if it’s not your style.

Here’s the Rules

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

My Picks

I have a loads of blogs on my reader. Although some of the news blogs are great, and I love that you can pick up the RSS feeds on your favourite commercial sites, my favourites by far are the personal blogs.

So for me, what makes a cool blog is the personal touch. I like to be able to feel the personality of the writer come through, and that means people who write with passion about subjects they care about.

I can’t pick Larisa again (although the rules don’t actually say that, leaving open the possibility of an endlessly closed loop. Not the world’s greatest rules algorithm, but I geekgress 😉 ), but what reaches out to me from her writing is how darned good she is at expressing her feelings for the games and people she writes about. As someone who always feels a bit awkward writing about myself, I really admire that. She’s a warm, kind, funny, thoughtful writer and person, and I got all that just from reading her blog.

Anyway, enough of that, here’s some picks:

Waaagh! — Anyone who follows the Warhammer blogs will know Syp’s megablog. I’ve always admired him for the strength and consistency of his writing, and for being so good at putting across the genuine enthusiasm he has for the games that he plays. He’s also been fantastically supportive to the Warhammer community, check out his Thursday links posts in particular. He also runs a blog about other MMOs called Biobreak; I hope Champions Online is everything you’re hoping for!

Player vs Developer – Green Armadillo shares my fascination with why people behave the way they do in online games. He focusses on how people respond to rewards and incentives, and even though I don’t share his love of pets and achievements, it makes for some great writing.

Tanking for Dummies – WoW has about a gazillion blogs all focussed on specific classes and specs. I do read a lot of warrior blogs (since Spinks is my main at the moment, and it’s fun to keep up with what other warrior players think). Some are hardcore, some are enthusiastic, some are informative, some are just nuts and I’m picking TfD because Tarsus is all of those things and he makes me laugh.

The Greedy Goblin – What really makes Gevlon’s writing stand out from the crowd is his philosophy of life, gaming, and economics. The blog reminds me of Freakonomics; and as well as discussing making gold in WoW, he also talks about player behaviour from an economic point of view. It makes me think, and I like that in a writer. He’s also very honest in his analyses of when he tried something and it didn’t work.

Killed in a Smiling Accident – Every so often you come across a blog that has a really strong writing tone, even though the writing is shared between a few different people. The KIASA chaps are so English that it hurts, and we love them for it. They also mix it up with some very insightful writing about the various games that they play, and they make me laugh. So there!

Wizards and Wenches – Another WAR blog. Regis wins my blog design award. I know he spends a lot of time tweaking it and it looks fantastic. He’s also a really strong and entertaining writer, which is the other reason you should read it. But it’s also the best looking blog I know.

Nerf the Cat – Arbitrary is another writer who is very good at expressing her feelings, even when she’s feeling down or frustrated. But whatever you do, don’t nerf the cat.

Ten Facts about Me

  1. I ate roast sparrow (on a stick) when I was in Japan.
  2. I have a PhD in digital signal processing.
  3. My character’s full name is Mrs Spinks. What happened to Mr Spinks? He ran off to join the Defias Bandits, no one who knows Mrs Spinks is surprised.
  4. My cat is a tortie who is coming up on her 17th birthday and came to us from a shelter. If you’re considering a rescue cat, do think about getting an older one. They’re just as sweet and much less work.
  5. Earl Grey. Milk. No sugar.
  6. The last TV show I watched was the first episode of The Apprentice.
  7. I almost always watch TV via the PVR, so I record programmes I like  and watch them later when it’s more convenient. ie. does not conflict with gaming 🙂
  8. I once played Aouda Fogg (the Indian woman who married Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days) in a live RP and had to learn how to put on a sari.
  9. I am a voluntary advisor at the local CAB.
  10. It was my birthday last Wednesday. Hurrah!