Text Games - Why Graphics Don’t Matter

By Keeshia Barker and Jeremy B Saunders

The modern gaming community for their lack of graphic interfaces often looks down on online text games but this sentiment is wrongly placed. Text games make use of the greatest computing system, your brain, and its capacity to vividly imaging the impossible. While all that text may not seem as impressive as all the pretty colors and renderings of a graphic game, a much deeper immersion experience is to be had, allowing players to truly escape from their daily lives into a world of adventure.

In graphic based games, the player invests into a visible entity. That entity is clearly separate from the user and disappears when they log off the game. Much, if not most, of the communication in these multiplayer games is on a real life basis. That is, talk about the game mechanics, quests, and organization talk is mixed in with chatter about the user?s daily life, their work, school, environment, and etcetera. This is not the case with a text game.

From the moment a player logs into a text based game, they are their character. In many of these games, out-of-character (or OOC) talk is not permitted except in specific scenarios (a clan, a channel, or when asking a specific question on how you, the player, can make your character perform a task). They are instead encouraged to remain in character (or IC) at all times when dealing with other characters. This allows the player to fully adopt a persona and roleplay from the moment of login to logout.

A player must think, speak, and act their character out in order to advance within the online text game. Even bashing (the hunting of creatures for experience) and PvP (player versus player combat) in these text games takes the brainpower to both comprehend and excel at. No more mashing of keys or clicking of icons, well unless you want to set it up that way! And these games offer much more than most graphic games do, from in depth and expandable lore to player-driven political systems.

Several of these text games boast thousands of rooms in hundreds of areas for players to explore, bash in, and wage ware over. There is a plethora of different guilds, cities, orders, and other organizations to roleplay in, and hundreds of skills for you to master. Characters can be customized from how they look down to designing how their clothes, jewelry, and even weapons look. Best of all, most of these games are completely free yet allow you to purchase upgrades for your character. You can purchase artifacts, skills, and even lessons to further your characters progress.

So while these text based online games may, to some, be old school, they are ever evolving and getting better with each year. Take a break from the pretty elves and warrior women dancing around in your graphic game and come let your mind wander free in a world of text. And hey, maybe your brain will thank you for letting it exercise all its muscles in our online text games!

If you are interested in text adventure games then you should try out the Iron Realms text games.

Keeshia Barker is a player and text game enthusiast from www.IronRealms.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Keeshia_Barker


I agree, and it's pretty much a given that text>graphics, as far as immersion is concerned. I think of Achaea as a book that is constantly being written, not just by you but by the thousands of other players that are alongside you shaping this persistent world. You also can't beat the character customization. If you wanted to completely replicate yourself in a graphical game, you'd need to learn hours and hours of 3d modelling/skinning with expensive software. Or you could play a game that has one of those "deep" avatar creators with millions of options, but you can never find just the right nose or hairstyle you want, and in the end you look like just another generic character like everyone else. In text games you can completely describe every aspect of your appearance for other players to read, because you can write whatever your brain comes up with. Oh, and you can update or change that character description whenever you want. My character has reincarnated into 3 different races, and each time I update my description accordingly. 3d MMOs don't afford you this level of customization.

A similar example can be seen in books that have been made into movies. The movies are almost never as good as the book and even the best examples are missing key elements.

The best example of the book to movie move is the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Why were the movies so good? It was because the movie was pretty much exactly what you envisioned when you read the books. These are the experiences you can expect from text games, IRE games in particular.

I think the article is correct that those whose preference is solely graphical games tend to few text games as inferior for some reason. And honestly, there are many that are. However, I think it really comes down to preference, of course. Text games do offer some great variety, seem to be more customizable and easier to update often, and of course allow your brain and imagination to flourish. Though, graphical games do have an advantage in the sound and visuals of making certain events and bosses look quite epic and that is very pleasing to those that prefer that sort of stimulus instead. I think they both offer equal boons for my time, provided they are good games that is.

In a few years of Imperian giggles, I have a whole world mapped out in my head. Creatures really puff and pant, Charon really rows his gruesome ferry. And I genuinely notice the change in the landscape as the weather twists and turn. It's not the basic escapism that comes from watching the graphics I control, it's the catalyst I need to really enjoy my brain working out to something other than my daily grind. Perhaps I'm overly romantic, but it's how it draws me in!

Put quite simply, graphics don't matter because they limit the imagination. In a text-based game the only limits are those you impose on yourself. Further, many games try to gloss over a lack of content and fun by providing really good graphics, text games don't have that cheat and have to earn players on their merit alone.

World of Warcraft is simple. You create a character, you watch your character fight mobs, you watch your character level up. You can see your character dance. You can create your own stylish haircuts, and so forth.

Achaea, it's pure imagination. When you level up, you can use your imagination of your character cheering, or dancing that you've made it to the next level. Imagination works best in a non-graphic text mud situation. I can use my imagination when I deliver a sermon, as if I am walking down the isle, looking at the assembled in the eye and such. I think Achaea's idea of imagination goes beyond anything further than what I've seen in the past. 2 thumbs up!

It's a different thrill seeing your character in graphical RPG as an actual person and thinking, "This is me, in this world." However, there is an ocean of a difference between graphics and text, that being, imagination. No WoW player can hold a candle to a text RPG player when it comes to imagination. The simple act of leveling can be celebrated like someone's life depended on it, if one so chooses. The complexity of graphical RPG restricts its room for imagination, while that of text RPG is one that allows a player to literally be in an entirely different world all on his own, but at the same time, sharing it with people from all walks of life. It's like a hive mind: in my world, I am this, I am that, and in your world, you are this, and you are that. But we are so imaginative that whatever differing nuances we may have, we can still coexist.

As what Aktillum said, Achaea is a book that is constantly being written. I have in my mind a scene from one of The Neverending Story movies, where the Childlike Empress was reading the book as the words were being written simultaneously with her reading it. That pretty much sums up what it's like to live in Achaea, or in any text RPG: you think, and it can happen.

I've had a lot of experience bouncing off graphic MMORPG games, but have always come back to Iron Realm's MUD games for my fix. What can never compare to such text games they provide - is the immersion and depth that it provides to the player.

Many people might say graphics are important. After all, a picture says a thousand words, doesn't it? What is missing from it is that you can't invest or display any personality, any characteristic or any life on your visible avatar other than what the game allows you to do (like jumping, smiling, waving a hand).

On the other hand, YOU are able to invest into your character a certain personality, characteristics you'll like him/her to have, which allows you to have a hand in her growth in the IG (in-game) world. You'll be able to express more emotion than a visible avatar can, through the tactful use of words in your emotes and in communication.

Now, wouldn't you say you'll be more interested in something that allows you such immersion into the world, than a virtual avatar which - at the end of it all - simply looks pretty?

Some people won't like what I'm about to say; if you are one of those people then stop reading now!

Still reading?

Okay, for me, one of the biggest advantages that text games have over graphics games is more an emergent property than an intrinsic quality: The Player Base. Quite simply (and I base this wholly on my own experience) text games seem to attract a more mature player. There is far less spamming, griefing, trolling etc, because GOOD text games simply don't tolerate such behaviour. Somebody fl00d1ng t3h ch4nn3ls w1t l33tsp34k will quickly be on EVERYBODY's ignore list, or just thrown out and IP-blocked by a GM (yeah, try finding one of -those- in your favourite MMORPG when you need one).

Yes, the immersion is far better. Yes, the customization is utterly droolsome. But the greatest treasure text games has to offer you is the thing that you're actually looking for when you play a multiplayer game - GOOD fellow players.

I guess what contributed to being "graphics-oriented" of the youth today is the advent of "graphics" in almost every aspect of media. One instance is back in the 60s-70s, people would listen to good music even if the singer is not so visually-appealing. Today, almost every singers would have their faces injected with botox, undergo cosmetic surgery, or get into other body modifications. Unfortunately, there are even those who even call themselves artists because they have pretty face and not because they can sing a song without auto-tune.

So what I'm trying to say here is, yes--the author is correct, graphics don't matter. May it be a song or a text game, what is important is the message conveyed, the creativity shown and for me creativity is best shown through words where our mind works.

A few great thing about your mind as graphics engine is that it comes for free and never becomes outdated. And with training, it will only get better.

When I first started playing Lusternia about 4-5 years ago on my first character, I was instantly impressed by by the depth of the experience that MUDs offer. When my friend first told me of the many merits of MUDs I was, as many people are at first, skeptical.
I was happily proven wrong, however, and remain and avid player to this day.

As has been said before, text games use language to render the world for you, rather than graphics. However, the language used in games such as Lusternia really amazed me in their evocative powers. It reached the point where I was no longer reading words on my screen, but actually visualizing the images and descriptions they were conveying. It's a truly magical thing.

Another thing I found is that text offers dimensions to the experience that you'll never quite get in a graphical game. In a text based game, everything about the world around you, and your character's interactions with it is expressed in beautiful depth. You get to actually know how that severed nerve feels, how scrumptious that meal was, how the air turned cold when that evil presence entered, how stinky that monster really is. It's much like comparing first-person books to their movie counterparts. You always feel a greater connection with the character, and the world around him. This is one area where graphical games will never really be able to touch MUDS. They just make immersion that much easier.

Probably my favorite thing about any text-based games is the player fan art. You get some absolutely magnificent works of art that vividly capture the imagination and the spirit of the game. You don't see too many people making their own original art. They might take screen shots from the game or in-game video and make some sort of digital art that way, but text based games really enable you to tap into your artistic side, which can be a great stress reliever for your every day life. Not only are there visual arts, but also written works as well. I highly recommend Iron Realms Entertainment games as they have monthly artistic contests for players to submit their works and win in-game prizes! Lets see some graphical MMORPG do that!

Dear IRE:

Once again, you have an article that seems thrown together, without much proofreading. There are many grammatical and typing errors, and the overall writing style is not terribly professional.

Some examples of rather poorly written sections:

"The modern gaming community for their lack of graphic interfaces often looks down on online text games but this sentiment is wrongly placed. Text games make use of the greatest computing system, your brain, and its capacity to vividly imaging the impossible."

"Even bashing (the hunting of creatures for experience) and PvP (player versus player combat) in these text games takes the brainpower to both comprehend and excel at. No more mashing of keys or clicking of icons, well unless you want to set it up that way!"

The punctuation is wrong, the grammar is very strangely constructed, and there are typos.

Please display some effort, rather than throwing articles up without any standards.

YES, PLEASE DO PROOFREAD. I don't agree that no effort was displayed, but I readily admit there was not enough put forth, as evidenced by the very disenchantingly fault-infested punctuation, grammar and spelling.

If I'm going to continue trying to recruit my friends to IRE games (especially Achaea - the only one I play anymore), I have to trust that a certain standard is maintained. I don't ask for nor expect superfluous prose pomp, but I very much expect the sites, their articles and scripts to be aesthetically respectable.

I make mistakes in my writings, too, but I ALWAYS follow the following preventive, self-preserving algorithm:

1. Proofread BEFORE I publish any online, in-game or simply show it to someone else to either proofread or read for other purposes.

2. If an error is found by any party (myself included as the "1st Party"):
A. I evaluate said error (for legitimacy)
B. Fix it
C. Re-proofread the entire work
D. Read the affected section(s) aloud or silently to myself (which is a significant element of the proofreading process);
E. Reread (verbally or mentally) the entire work to ensure fluidity and guarantee that my message(s) are not discounted or skewed due to the revisions

3. I then scour over the entire work in search of more errors

4. If perceived (by me) to be necessary:
A. I fix any more (noticed at the time) errors

5. Repeat steps #2A through #2E as applicable

6. Ask the same reader or another, more competent or more highly regarded (I'm the judge) individual to proofread or assess that latest, further refined work.

7. If any more mistakes are detected, or any more revisions (thought by me) need to be made, I simply repeat steps #1 through #7.

This process, when affordable, can be repeated any number of times, and should be thoroughly exhaustive. No pain, no gain. The worst mistakes are, after all, those not learned from.

Conveniently, the importance of respectable written content is even cited in THIS site's currently featured (at least on Facebook) article ([IRE.com]URL after the jump), by Lisa Ohanian.


Oliviero Marquis-Leone Caderyn, Chaos Charger

I spent so long on Skyrim deciding what my guy's face was gonna look like that I got bored of the game and had to put it down before I could go further. Sometimes, they're just not worth it. (I will continue to play this beautiful game now that the game is actually going...)

Since playing Achaea as a text game, I've changed my mind about text games - although of course, with text it can be all the more intense as you immerse yourself in a story you create, that you write yourself... I suppose its much more personal, which can both be a good and bad thing.

I agree. After immersing myself into the game, I have vividly detailed imagery in my mind of how Achaea might be. I like the world of possibilities available in a text based game, rather than the limitations of a graphic one.


Graphics of the mind are so much more enjoyable :)


My imagination's graphics are dope. Tailored to me, too. Seriously, my imagination has way better graphics than the XBOX360.

in my mind, i'm way waaaay better in pk.

in YOUR mind :D

I agree, no need for graphics to have an entirely enjoyable game. Imagination is the limit here.

and lag, apparently!



It's always a limiting factor



Honestly (except for those who RP on WoW I suppose) I sort of hate comparing text to graphic games, the reason I got into MUDs (writing, RP opportunity, escapism etc.) is completely different then why I got into MMROPGs or other graphics-based games (killing the crap out of crap). While I do also like to kill things in text-based games I like doing it in the RP environment and without that environment and the sheer amount of options I wouldn't be interested in them and would probably just settle with graphics games. 

I just don't think its entirely fair to compare text and graphic games -for- this reason, while you can do combat in both (and you can RP in... well WoW etc. I guess but the options and the versatility with RPing in graphics versus text is just not fair), I would wager its not an uncommon train of thought for people to be into text-games and graphics games for different reasons and to fill different cravings.

short and simple, at least text games have some educational value! they increase your vocab!

Text based games expanded my vocabulary and taught me to type well.

because the human mind beats all. *sage*



I like shiny graphics, but, it doesn't make a game.  The story, interface, characters, and the rest do that.  Text games just make all the rest so much better.

There are better ways to use the resources of the game than graphics. I think more human vs. human interaction is the direction we want to head if we want to improve gaming quality not shiny bling.