01 Nov 2022
13:00  - 14:00

Englisches Seminar, Grosser Hörsaal


Researching language and interaction in online gaming communities

Dr. Carolin Debray (Universität Basel)

Gaming is an increasingly mainstream pastime and gaming communities are becoming bigger and more diverse in regards to the social identities (age, gender, educational background, nationality, ethnicity, profession, etc) and the linguistic backgrounds of their members. Gaming thus creates new “third spaces” that allow diverse others who would otherwise rarely meet to inhabit common spaces and to interact (Ducheneaut et al., 2007; Steinkuehler & Williams, 2006). At the same time, interaction is restricted by the technological affordances of different sites, the time pressures in-game and during game spectatorship, and the arguably limited common ground that exists between community members. To mitigate these constraints, community languages, known as ludolects (Ensslin, 2012) have emerged. These provide a fascinating site for linguistic research for a variety of related reasons. They are quite distinct from so-called everyday English and are continually generating new word forms that reflect community identities – for example “sadge”, “modge” or “copium”. Language use is not only creative and different but also very ritualized this serves to level the playing field between L1 and L2 users, as community status does not hinge on proficiency of English, but on full proficiency of the relevant ludolect. This equalizes relationships between gamers but also allows L2 streamers and casters to perform linguistic work that is visible and appreciated in the community, unlike in many other broadcasting fields.

In this talk, I will discuss aspects of my research on gaming communities, in particular on the research design and the construction of a gaming corpus. I will also provide more details about the theoretical background of the project and present some preliminary analytical insights on the pilot data.


  • Ducheneaut, N., Moore, R. J., & Nickell, E. (2007). Virtual “third places”: A case study of sociability in massively multiplayer games. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 16, 129–166. doi.org/10.1007/s10606-007-9041-8
  • Ensslin, A. (2012). The Language of Gaming. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Steinkuehler, C. A., & Williams, D. (2006). Where everybody knows your (screen) name: Online games as “third places.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(4), 885–909. doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00300.x

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