Styles of Communication, Vol 6, No 1 (2014)

Language Practices on Internet Game Fora

Szymon Wach


Online discussion fora form important venues for promoting language change across the boundaries of time, space, and formal organization. The aim in this paper is to discuss the processes by which participants of online communities develop a sense of common identity. The analysis involves several popular game discussion fora, from quite formal World of Warcraft to unrestrained Tibia. The reported analysis is based on language practices which are found during  participation in online game fora. One can note that processes which could be considered as central to community formation are often different manner than the ones found in the literature regarding traditional discussion fora. Examples of such practices along with activities included in a particular category are provided based on selected examples. However, the results which emerge from the analysis indicate that the relationships tend to be constantly realigned under the influence of changing virtual circumstances, such as changing player roles in a group. In addition, language rules are typically not explicit and it appears that they are established and maintained as players imitate and react to each other’s roles. Moreover, there is very little evidence of formal establishing a code of conduct or netiquette for our group, as it is completely thought to be implied. However, the practices which are found to be central are the ones in the category of developing a consistent linguistic style, as they show a great diversity. It is indicated how this category seems to serve certain roles, such as forming a distinct code and with examples of forms of abbreviations and acronyms. It is shown that more traditional roles are played by the very fact of the formation of a distinct code.


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