Now let's look at this from a game designer standpoint. Text simply costs less. Using real voices means you have to spend man hours recording people talking, then store the audio somewhere on the game disc. Sure, audio can be compressed to a relatively small size (the ever popular mp3 file is a great example of a compressed audio format that sounds pretty darn good), but with games in high definition these days, less-compressed audio is going to sound noticeably better. And it's hard to imagine the work it would take to convert all of the text in a MMO like World of Warcraft into voiceover form.
One final thing to consider is that there are interesting combinations of text and audio. For example, many voiced-over games allow you to turn on subtitles. I may be in the minority on this, but personally, I almost always turn on the subtitles in my games.
Valve is known to implement the mixture of text and audio in interesting ways that give their game worlds incredible detail. Take Portal. GLaDOS is constantly manipulating you with her endless chatter while there is graffiti all over warning you not to listen to her. The Left 4 Dead games take this even further, revealing story/character elements almost exclusively in the form of graffiti. Valve proves that text can be implemented into games without reverting to the traditional "block of text" or breaking immersion.
This debate ultimately boils down to opinion and gameplay preferences. The type of games that you prefer to play will influence your decision drastically. If you like to play WW2 shooters, for example, you'll want to hear the sound of your commanding officer as he barks orders at you over the machine gun fire in the background. And being inside a Nazi bunker just wouldn't feel the same without German chatter. On the other hand, if you enjoy traditional RPGs, reading text is often a much more efficient way to get involved in a story that lasts thirty to forty hours, especially when you like your protagonist to share your real-life name.
But voice acting makes things possible that text simply can't. Background elements like radio broadcasts, intercom chatter, television sets conspicuously left on, nervous banter coming from the next room; these are things that simply couldn't be effectively conveyed with simple text. So unless you want to stick with 16-bit JRPGs exclusively, voiceovers are just more expressive than plain text can ever be.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*