Author

Mia Sue Lopez

Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

John M. Clifton

Abstract

Video games which provide a unique system for quick and efficient communication create an ideal environment for the development of need-driven language. Players in League of Legends engage in different forms of communication to influence the behavior of their allies to achieve their goals. These players utilize and expand upon a built-in ping system which uses a combination of button presses and mouse clicks to send simple messages to allied players. They combine these pings with standard text chat features to develop a language unique to their environment.

Using data gathered from publicly available Twitch streams, I analyze how players communicate as well as how effective that communication is, focusing on ping and text-based communication. I demonstrate how players expand on individual ping senses to cover a wider range of topics using Prototype Theory. These same pings are then combined into more complex, syntactic forms to provide clearer communication, supporting previous research that has hypothesized language moved from simple to more complex as a means of reducing miscommunication.

I also examine the use of persuasive language, a focus of ample research within the field of game theory. My findings largely follow those of previous research, such as modals being less impactful in swaying previously decided stances. The need for highly efficient and effective communication pushes written language to drop many written features, such as capitalization and most punctuation. However, players retain the use of question marks which have pragmatic uses. While considerable research has focused on trolling, where one player engages in negative behaviors to evoke a negative response in others, I demonstrate that it is largely ineffective within the realm of convincing one's allies to agree to surrender. Whether or not a team surrenders revolves around the situation and not the persuasive language used.

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