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The language in digital games: register variation in virtual and real-world contexts

Dixon, Daniel Hobson (2022) The language in digital games: register variation in virtual and real-world contexts. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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This dissertation provides an in-depth linguistic description and analysis of the discourse in a target domain of digital games, a domain referred to as single player offline role-playing games. Gaming discourse from this domain is represented by a 4.8-million-word corpus of spoken and written language extracted from the digital files of four popular and commercially successful titles: Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Divinity: Original Sin II, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Within these four games, six registers were identified, and a multidimensional analysis reveals four dimensions of gaming discourse. Each dimension identifies sets of co-occurring linguistic features. The game registers’ use of each dimension’s features shows the characteristics that make each register linguistically unique which are functionally interpreted through their situational characteristics. These game registers are also compared to real-world situations of language use. Findings show strong evidence that games represent language exposure that compares quite similarly to several real-world language use situations. These findings give strong support that 1) register variation in games should not be ignored in L2 gaming contexts, 2) register variation in games represents a wide range of real-world registers, and 3) more research is needed that targets specific game designs and mechanics so that their unique discourse can be better understood and leveraged for L2 learning purposes and the development of L2 educational technology.The motivation for this research stems from the praise that applied linguistics researchers and practitioners have given to digital games for their meaningful and engaging second language (L2) input. Despite this praise, little research has thoroughly investigated and documented this language input in targeted domains of digital games. This dissertation aims to fill that gap by applying the register analysis framework detailed by Biber and Conrad (2019).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: computer-assisted language learning; corpus linguistics; digital game-based language learning; educational technology; natural language processing; video games and education
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Arts and Letters > English
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2023 18:37
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2023 18:37
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5956

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