Everyone is interested in Bioware's fully voiced MMO, SWTOR. Despite not being the first to have quality voice acting, they certainly will come in cheaper than hiring Mark Hamill and half the cast of Firefly like DCUO did. Still, I have been thinking lately...
How about an MMO with zero text or voice?
It could be of any style, really: Sandbox or theme park, sci-fi or fantasy. The main point is that it would have no dialogue, no voice acting, no text of any kind. Everything would be communicated through speech bubbles with picture in them, or character gestures such as pointing. Characters would not receive names either.
This hypothetical game is to prove a bit of a theory of mine: Players will become inventive to work around the communication barrier by relying on the in-game gestures, and by that measure become more cooperative. Of course, some will cheat and use ventrillo or third party chat programs, but you can't win them all.
The style would extend to the entire interface as well. The only thing with text would be the launcher program, with news, and the options screen. Otherwise, you have the minimap, your inventory, and health/energy bars. To make it work, things would have to be presented in a clear, possibly a bit cartoony, fashion so that wood in your inventory is never mistaken for something that you made out of wood.
I think this could present interesting challenges to the players. Say you have a sandbox style game, and you are attempting to build a house. Trading for materials is its own challenge, as well as just building the thing. Though, now that I think about it, cooperative sandbox would work best for this model. If there would be combat, abilities would not be able to be used as text is disallowed. Or, at least many abilities.
Music and sounds would play important roles as well. Setting the mood, of course, but also knowing when danger is nearby. I would expect players could choose from a number of noises to make that could mean a variety of things, such as enemies incoming, help needed, or just being obnoxious.
I will admit, I haven't got the idea entirely fleshed out yet, but I find the concept very interesting. What do you think?