Communication Strategies of Politeness and Impoliteness in Online Team-Based Games
Mentor:Mary Bucholtz, Professor of Linguistics, University of California Santa Barbara
In the globally expanding leisure activity of online gaming, chatting in virtual gaming contexts is different from real life face-to-face interaction. Linguists have analyzed cyber-language in mobile worlds and on the Internet (Baron 2008; Crystal 2011). With rare exceptions, however (Keating & Sunakawa 2010), few studies examine the interaction between online gamers from a linguistic perspective. This study focuses on patterns of politeness and impoliteness (Brown & Levinson 1987; Culpeper 2011) within player interaction in an online action real-time strategy game called League of Legends (LoL).
In this study, 32 participants volunteered to play games hosted by the researcher during a two-month period. Approximately 20 hours of recorded online games were collected involving teams of three to five players. After the game data was collected, players either completed an online survey or attended a group interview to provide additional information about online gaming interaction.
The goal of winning in LoL makes communicating with other players via online chat very important. Overall, the analysis demonstrates that although team members often engage in non-game-related chat involving politeness strategies to maintain team solidarity, they may also violate politeness norms through their discourse. Since all players' real-life identities are potentially anonymous in the game, some may communicate with their teammates in ways that violate politeness norms through the practice of raging, or complaining angrily to team members about their performance in the game. The phenomenon of raging can create a virtual world of frustration for the players who want an enjoyable and competitive game.