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What voice does for MMOs

Eliot Lefebvre

One of the big claims about Star Wars: the Old Republic is that the game is meant to be fully voiced, from start to finish. On the flip side, Star Trek Online will not be fully voiced -- in fact, its executive producer Craig Zinkievich recently made some statements asking more or less what the point of voice acting in the game really is. To quote: "It adds something to the game, but I don't think that VO-ing all of your text provides for that big a bang for the buck in terms of immersion."

Bio Break seems to disagree rather emphatically. As he points out, voice is one of the most immersive and important parts of a game world in which our immersion is, by necessity, limited. We can only hear or see what's going on in front of us, which makes the things we hear and see all the more important. (Or makes a USB taste simulator all the more urgent.) He points out, quite rightly, that each of us have at least one or two bosses that we remember more on the strength of their voice acting than because of the fight itself.

Bioware, of course, has long offered a great deal of voice acting in its games. It remains to be seen if the promises of pervasive acting in Star Wars: the Old Republic will be carried out, but the discussion about how important voice is will remain either way. Take a look at the article, and share your thoughts in the comments: is it important that a game have full voiceovers and cutscenes, or is that a distraction without much relevance?

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