[OPR] Wagner: Video Game-Contextual Vocabulary

On this page you can download the discussion paper that was submitted for publication in the Journal for Media Linguistics. The blogstract summarises the submission in a comprehensible manner. You can comment on the discussion paper and the blogstract below this post. Please use your real name for this purpose. For detailed comments on the discussion paper please refer to the line numbering of the PDF.


Discussion Paper (PDF)

Blogstract of

The Application of Video Game-Contextual Vocabulary Outside its Context of Emergence. A Frame Semantic Approach

by Pascal Wagner

Neologisms coined by specific groups in the internet sometimes leave their coinage environment whether because in-group speech provides a fitting term for a phenomenon not yet known to the general speaker, making it an appropriate addition to the general language, or when speakers of in-group languages carry them outside their usual environment where they may or may not be understood or even adapted by people unfamiliar to those terms. This paper takes a look at those limitation-losing terms based on one group, video game players, by asking the following main research question: How do the sense and use of video game-specific terms differ from the sense and use in their context of emergence?

As the term ‘sense’ implies, the paper utilises a frame semantic approach in the vein of Charles Fillmore and Sue Atkins, with the ultimate goal of portraying the sense shifts that occurred in the transition from in-group to out-group usage in a separate polysemic frame chart for every neologism.

Terms were preselected from typical terms used in gaming context. The video game specific terms noob, n00b, newb and ragequit in different orthographies were chosen through comparing the entries of two community general and one internet community curated dictionary. Data acquisition was achieved by webcrawling their usage with the NeoCrawler Observer software in a four month period in 2017. The occurrences were then sorted by in-group, meaning gaming-related, and out-group, non gaming-related contexts and further differentiated into categories by doing a Pagel-Level Classification derived from the research of Daphné Kerremans. Those categories and the usage of the terms within them provided attributes that could be taken into account by constructing the polysemic frames, i.e. a derogatory ‘mocking’ attribute found in in-group usages of noob in discussions but not found in any out-group usages constituted as proof for a sense shift. Noob, to further the example, was extensively used derogatively in video game contexts (as invective against inexperienced players in video titles or forum discussions), but was more often used for self-humbling in aid-seeking by non gaming-affiliated persons (as in forum headlines such as ‘noob programmer looking for help’), not for diminishing others. Furthermore, while the senses of ragequit in all its spelling variations did not differ greatly, noob, n00b and newb not only differed in senses between in-group and out-group usage, they were used with inherently different attributes in in-group usages in general. For example, the ‘mocking’ attribute was especially present in n00b, while being less prevalent in usage of newb.

From the findings of the paper, general criteria of how sense shift occuring in neologism that leave their coinage environment can be discovered and labelled as such were deduced. One of the key findings of the paper was that highly specific in-group neologisms may loose some sense defining features in the transition to out-group usage, but their out-group senses can still stay recognisable to in-group users. This is because the out-group sense stays transparent in how it is derived from an in-group usage by the majority of the attributes it retains (while, still, discarding others).

3 Replies to “[OPR] Wagner: Video Game-Contextual Vocabulary”

  1. Sylvia SierraAugust 17, 2020 at 23:30Reply

    This paper is on the interesting topic of semantic drift of neologisms from the video gaming community to broader out-group usage. The methodology of the paper is very detailed, and the findings, that the terms noob/n00b/newb and rage-quit spread from vide gaming communities to broader society with expanding meanings still understandable by the video gaming community, at the same time not needing to rely on the original context for use and interpretation, are quite interesting.
    These interesting findings should be clearly previewed much earlier on in the paper—by the end of the abstract and by the end of the introduction. Rather than leading your readers to your findings via a process of discovery, it is always best to clearly indicate the findings up front and then to reiterate them throughout the analysis and again at the conclusion. 
    Citing the relevant literature on similar topics would help motivate the paper—it is not quite clear what is the new thing being done here or what the motivation is for the study, other than looking at videogame neologisms outside their original context for the sake of it. The theoretical contribution is not clear. There are at least two papers that come to mind immediately that have studied similar phenomena, which I will list at the end of this review. 
    In addition to these issues, there are some more basic ones which distract from the content of the paper. The most fundamental of these is a combination of proof-reading and style. I have marked within the manuscript some inconsistencies in the use of verb tenses and other stylistic choices that seem to not quite fit the norms and standards of publishable academic work. Much of this should be taken care of prior to submission to a journal and is something that should be done in advance of any future submissions. 
    I also think the paper is much too long. The tables provided that extend over multiple pages of the paper could probably go in appendices. Long bulleted lists should probably also be avoided. There seemed to be an excessive use of footnotes, many of which are almost a paragraph long — for instance, on p. 13, half of the page is footnotes. Either incorporate these into the prose or consider if they are really necessary.
    I also think the methods section is much too long and detailed, but this could be more indicative of the field that you are writing in (this paper is admittedly a bit more corpus-based/technical/quantitative than what I am most used to reading). I don’t think that readers need to know the exact steps that you took, only the most relevant ones. By the time I got to page 16 and the bulleted lists, I really became lost as to why we need to know this level of detail. I know that this depends on the field, but generally speaking in linguistics, the methodology section should be the shortest piece of an academic paper, sometimes only a paragraph long and in other cases, just a few paragraphs. I know this is quite different in computational/corpus linguistics however so it depends to some extent on your intended audience, the audience of the journal, and to what extent the readers need to know the details of the methods in order for the study to be ‘reproducible’. 
    Other minor comments:
    the word ‘loose’ is used instead of ‘lose’ in the abstract on the webpage
    I wondered if using the concept of ‘semantic drift’ might be useful? Especially with ‘rage quit’, and possible with noob. 
    References on this topic
    Sierra, S. (2016). Playing out loud: Videogame references as resources in friend interaction for managing frames, epistemics, and group identity. Language in Society, 45(2), 217.
    Squires, L. (2014). From TV personality to fans and beyond: Indexical bleaching and the diffusion of a media innovation. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 24(1), 42-62.

  2. RedaktionAugust 24, 2020 at 10:40Reply

    Reviewer: Hajo Diekmannshenke

    Review: The initial point of the following exploratory study is the phenomenon of utterances that are being used in computer games including contexts such as political discourses that appear outside of this game: “This paper takes a look at those limitation-losing terms based on one group: video game players.“ (Z. 44f.)  Focus of this discussion is the question: “How do the sense […] and use of video game-specific terms differ from the sense and use in their context of emergence? “(Z. 49ff.) For this question the author choses a frame semantic approach:” Is there a video gaming-contextual frame existent in video game-unrelated online environments to understand the evaluated terms? “(Z. 56ff.) The works of Blank (1997), Chang (2016) and Fillmore (1976) or Fillmore/Atkins (1992) are used as basis. The data basis creates the following terms, „Achievement unlocked, boss, to camp, critical hit, drop/to drop, to farm, to frag, to grind, imba, loot/to loot, newb, noob, one-hit, ragequit, to spawn, salty, tilt, quest“ (Z. 313ff.) that are subsequently checked in the The Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED), Merriam-Webster (M-W) and Urban Dictionary (UD). Three of those term, newb, noob, rage-quit are looked at in more detail. Therefore, the methodological procedure is presented and gives interesting insights about semantic changes of the lexemes. In addition, the distinction between the subject (politics, sports, lifestyle etc.) and the evaluation that comes with it are beneficial. Yet, some questions are left open: Is it possible to transfer the results onto other domains or do they only account for the area of computer games? How does the process of transfer of the area of group specific language use onto everyday use specific use work? Are those utterances part of other languages because of the predominant role of English in computer games? Those questions do not need to be answered by the author but should be addressed.

    Recommendation: Revisions Required

  3. RedaktionAugust 24, 2020 at 11:21Reply

    Editor’s decision: After careful consideration of the reviews and the manuscript, we have come to the decision to reject the submission. We consider the criticism of the reviews to be justified and in large parts so fundamental that the submission would have to be completely revised or redesigned. Of course, it is possible to submit an appropriately redrafted contribution.

Leave a Comment