Games and Broadcast Language
Language and language use have an important role in video games, as part of a broader communicative landscape within games conceived of as complex and multimodal networked semiotic domains. The ways and degrees to which language functions within games varies according to genre, with language use most strongly integral to game play in narratively-oriented online games, epitomized by massively multiplayer online video games such as Lineage II or World of Warcraft. Historically, early forms of narrative games were largely text-based, with action driven primarily by textual rather than graphic commands, through forms such as MUDS (Multi-User Dungeon/Dimension/Domain) and games like The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy video game. For the most part, however, language use in contemporary game-play is integrated within the larger semiotic context of the in-game world. In the case of online game play, it serves a number of purposes analogous to the ways in which language similarly works elsewhere as socially situated practice. In the case of single player games, language functions in a more limited fashion, contributing to the development of character, ambience, back-story and other narrative elements, and to the advancement of the action. In online play, formal features of games language typically include words and phrases composed of a mix of symbol, letters and numbers, characterized by abbreviations, truncations, typographical and grammatical errors, syntactic erosion and specialized vocabulary (Steinkuehler 2006), with approaches drawn from discourse analytic and systemic functional analysis foregrounding ideational, interpersonal and textual dimensions and the ways in which language use in this context is linked not only to communication and the advancement of action but also to in-game ambience, constructions and representations of identity, a sense of community, and issues of relationships and power. The use of in-game names in 'real world' contexts can continue in-game relationships and roles with a particular intimacy, complexifying relationships between on and offline worlds and play.
The Routledge Companion to English Studies
English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)