Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
Massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (or MMORPG) are a genre of online games which allows a large amount of people to communicate and interact in a virtual world. Role-playing in these MMORPGs allows players to assume a virtual identity where they have the opportunity to communicate differently than they would in real life. This study was conducted on the European version of World of Warcraft.
The investigation of this study has been conducted through online observations of two race based samples of interactions that were chat logged. Additionally, interviews were conducted with ten role-players. The study analyzes non-standard orthography and lexical items found in the role-players’ language in relation to their possible speech representation. With the help of the ten conducted interviews the study analyzes the role-players’ lexical items and non-standard orthography in relation to real accents and dialects, as well as ethnic linguistic stereotypes. The study also analyzes the impact the game developers have on the role-players’ language through encoded linguistic clues. Furthermore, the study discusses the relation between the role-players’ linguistic features and identity, language and rules.
The results showed that the respondents compared the World of Warcraft races in relation to real accents and dialects of different English speaking cultures: Scottish (dwarf) and Jamaican (troll). However, the analysis showed that not all the role-players’ linguistic features were specific to Scottish or Jamaican varieties. The linguistic features could also be identified with other varieties of English. Many of the role-players’ linguistic features were also colloquial forms which are common in all varieties of English. Additionally, the troll role-players were more affected by the linguistic encoded clues found in World of Warcraft than the dwarf role-players. Overall the study establishes that the respondents’ views and role-players’ language is complex and influenced by several factors. Furthermore, the relationship between race and character is of great importance and the foundation of the role-players’ language and assumed identity.