As I sat and watched my oldest daughter play a video game, I realized something important. Each time she plays a game, she does one thing that honestly gets on my nerves: skipping important on screen text that is vital to the gameplay experience. It could be an important story arc, or maybe a tutorial that she’s missed, making her end up asking me what to do. The fact of the matter is that she can read perfectly and loves books, but is not bothered to read anything in-game. Then I realized something even more shocking: I tend to do the exact same thing.
In-Game Text Tutorials
My first case to cover when it comes to any in-game text, is the trusty tutorial.
This is the developer’s way of giving you the tools needed to succeed. Like a teacher taking their time to go over what will be on an upcoming test, this is vital information. Yet, I tend to skip this trusted source of help, just as I tended to skip caring about copying what to study. I mean, I even tended to fail studying when I was in school. This, I guess, translated into my gaming life as well.
I am not sure if it is just the independence of my daughter and I that drives us to do this unholy gaming action. Perhaps it is a common-place occurrence within the gaming community to skip a tutorial in a hapless time-save. We live in a busy world where games are becoming more quicker paced, and where we never ever read the end user licenses for anything.
So, taking the time to read a long winded tutorial seems to be too much for my daughter and I to handle as we fight to have more gameplay time. I honestly, for one, am turning a new leaf and working more on actually reading the text provided to me. I have been doing this a lot more in the new game Judgment which I wrote a great article about Here.
In-Game Text Story
I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge JRPG fan in the slightest. I have played my fair share of Final Fantasy, and my actual favorite, the Persona series. These types of games share a common trait, being long-winded text-based exposition. I know for a fact that I skip these, myself. There is just too much to go through at times, that it feels like I am reading a novel, rather than gaming.
There are many players who are overjoyed in getting every juicy morsel of story from a game that they can. Some go as far as searching anything and everything for lore and secrets hidden within the text. Almost like gaming historians or explorers, they dig through each line of in-game text to decipher meanings. This is a noble act that I am not a fan of doing myself. I did enough brain scratching in college to last me a life time.
Being honest, in-game text that covers story is highly important to the game. I love games that have a rich, vibrant living world that I can immerse myself in; I just honestly don’t need four pages of written non-voice acted dialog to get that gaming high.
Lore and Secondary Story
What I mean by ‘lore and secondary story’ is explained by Resident Evil‘s files, and all tomes and texts within the Dark Souls series. Most of the time, these texts are completely optional to the main story, except in the latter of Dark Souls. In Dark Souls, these optional in-game texts actually explain the story of the game and the world around you as the player. While in Resident Evil, these secondary texts explain what is going on around the player in a more broad stroke.
These are also something I rarely find myself going over, really. At least, in a first playthrough where my focus is solely on completing the main story. I am a movie nerd and love my basic plot layout of beginning, conflict, and conclusion. It is something I also value in games. I always want to complete every side quest a game has to offer. I soon feel, though that this action slows the pace of my trusted movie plot layout, and I end up abandoning the side quests.
Do You Read In-Game Text?
Really ask yourself this question, and think back. I initially blamed my child and her YouTube generation’s lack of attention. However I, raised on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, do the exact same thing.
I needed to know how other gamers play, so we set up a poll on the official Culture of Gaming Twitter account. The results were honestly what I expected. 17% of gamers stated they always read the in-game text. However, 17% also stated they always skip it. A whopping 67% stated they only read when necessary. I think the verdict is really in on this topic, with the answer being: Kinda.
As I said before, we now live in a modern and fast-paced world where we need everything at the drop of a hat. When it comes to reading nowadays, I normally pick audio books to listen to while I drive. I personally spend a total of about 10 to 15 hours a week just on the road. When it comes down to our world, it is all about reading when we really have to.