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How computer games affect language proficiency

How the players actually used the English language depended on the game. In ‘FIFA’ players did not use the English language in a communicative manner since English was only visible in the menus and audible through the commentators’ dialogues. Hence, the emphasis was on reading and listening skills. Even though the games offered the players improvement of these language skills, the players could have learned the commands in the menus by clicking to see the outcome and, thus, forming a strategy for understanding the words. Therefore, they were not learning the meaning of the words, but purely the commands. Also, the menus may not have a huge impact on the acquisition of English vocabulary since it was possible to change the default language into Swedish.

However, while writing and speaking in the chats for ‘LoL’, ‘WoW’, and ‘CS’, and ‘Warframe’ all the four language skills were used. Players used communicative English when playing, and they would argue that these games had a great impact on their level of proficiency. These games may be better in terms of developing language proficiency since players are forced to speak and write in English when using the chats. Gee (5, pp. 26-28) argues that playing video games can be considered to be a learning situation. Even though he primarily refers to video games, these players believe to have developed their skills of communicating in English by playing these online computer games, contemplating the collected data from the observations and interviews.


The aim of this essay was to establish whether video and online computer games could widen players’ vocabulary by using English as a lingua franca and, therefore, argues that such leisure activities are learning situations. While doing the observations and interviews one could see that the English vocabulary used in the different games was dissimilar from the language taught in school. In addition, Chik (4, pp. 95-114) stated that learning does not solely occur in educational environments and, hence, players acquiring vocabulary are learners. It was evident that the terminology in the games was addressed to a certain audience and that such language is not usually practiced when speaking English.

When looking at the first research question (the different words the players are exposed to), the results showed various conclusions. Players of ‘LoL’ and ‘WoW’ were exposed to a language associated with the Middle Ages, and consequently they would acquire a vocabulary that would not be applicable while speaking general English. However, such vocabulary could still be useful in other contexts, such as understanding movies of that genre; thus, it would not be unnecessary to learn such vocabulary. Also, any improvement of language proficiency should be seen as positive. In ‘FIFA’ and ‘CS’ the vocabularies seemed more useful in other contexts than playing the games since the terms were more up to date.

While going through the data players of ‘WoW’, ‘LoL’ ‘Warfame’ and ‘CS’ believed themselves to have acquired a higher level of language proficiency since their communication was mostly in English. The vocabularies in these games were more demanding and considerably different from vocabulary focused on in school. Players of ‘FIFA’ acquired some words and expressions from listening to the commentators, which were a combination between football and ice hockey terms as well as general English. Even though it appeared as they had learned new words from playing the games, it seems that the sports video games do not influence the players’ language development as much as the other three games. Regardless of the fact that these players have extended their vocabulary, according to themselves, Seidlhofer (13, pp. 18-20) mentions that it is communication that is important while gaining the comprehension of a language. Hence, ‘FIFA’ would not be the ideal games to play if focusing on developing the language. Also, they would not be applicable to the use of ELF since they are not communicatively constructed. Moreover, player ‘WoW’ of discussed that he was forced to learn the language in order to be successful in the game. Hence, his interest for the game assisted his learning. According to Whelchel (15, pp. 29-45), the interest for the activity is of aid when learning. Additionally, Stanley (14, p. 2) found that showing interest in pupils interests motivate their learning, also connecting interests with learning.

Seemingly the vocabulary used in the games is not the main source for the developments of the players’ proficiency. The second research question concerned the players’ usage of language while playing (in terms of speaking and writing) and concluded to the fact that it, in truth, could be the usage of chats adjacent to the games that are the main cause for the expansion of vocabulary. While using Skype or Ventrilo the players used English in a communicative manner and the language was spoken during the whole time playing. Therefore, one can state that the actual games do not have a huge impact on players’ language proficiency because it is the activities which players are forced to practice alongside the game that determines their development.

The communicative use of English developed several of the players’ language skills, according to themselves, which answers the third and the fourth research questions of how the language in the games affects the players’ vocabulary, and what improvements the players noticed on their vocabulary. As Seidlhofer (13, pp. 18-20) concluded, ELF is used through communication and, therefore, these players use English as a lingua franca by using Skype or Ventrilo. According to themselves, the exposure to a demanding terminology facilitated the players’ to broaden their vocabulary, as well as providing development of the language skills of speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Seidlhofer (13, pp. 18-20) concluded that the negotiation of meaning improves language proficiency, which has been used by some of the players. Sandford et al. (12, pp. 45-50) are regarding computer games as an instrument of learning. As both the communicational activities and the games’ vocabulary had such an impact on the players video and online computer games can be regarded as a source to language learning. In the players own opinion they had attained better learning strategies from playing the games and as Gee (5, pp. 26-28) stated, playing video games can improve players’ learning methods. If one considers the players’ opinions these games seem to have a huge impact on the widening of vocabularies. Because of the shortage of previous research in this particular area, one had to create links between studies connected to ELF and the use of educational games in school. Consequently, the investigation began merely with theories concerning the hypothesis, which made the results particularly interesting since it verified many of the suppositions.

The outcome of the investigation was relatively expected, even if there were unexpected events occurring. The overall idea, concerning the players’ opinions about the possibility that the use of ELF in video and online computer games has widened their vocabulary, was met. Also, the notion, that a divergent terminology would be apparent in these video and online computer games, was accurate. Additionally, it was established that such variety of language could be a factor for broadening the players’ vocabulary as well.

This study has detected language differences in video and online computer games. The results have shown tendencies for communicative development in such games, as well as how this form of activity could be argued to be a learning situation. Thus, the indications of this study could serve as an introduction for further research concerning language development through playing video and online computer games. Potential continuation of research in such areas should be conducted in a more detailed and thorough manner and, henceforward, reaching a wider conclusion on the matter. The variation of language has been revealed to influence the players’ language proficiency in their opinion, both by broadening their vocabularies and improving their communicative skills.

The results presented here suggest that video and online computer games can be key elements leading players to a range of paths where they are able to deepen their knowledge of English.


1. Beatty, Ken. (2003). Teaching And Researching Computer-aided Language Learning. London: Longman, pp. 24-26


2. Berger, Arthur Asa. (2002). Video Games – A Popular Culture Phenomenon. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. pp. 10-15


3. Chandler, Heather Maxwell & Rafael Chandler. (2011). Fundamentals of Game Development. Sudbury: Jones Bartlett Learning. Pp. 14-25


4. Chik, Alice. (2012). Digital Gameplay for Autonomous Foreign Language Learning: Gamers’ and Language Teachers’ Perspective. In Reinders, Hayo (ed.). Digital Games In Language Learning And Teaching. New York: Palgrave McMillan. Pp. 95-114.


5. Gee, James. P. (2007). What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy. Gordonsville: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 26-28.


6. Kachru, B.B. (1992) The Other Tongue: English Across Cultures (2nd edn.). Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 15-30


7. Kylén, Jan-Axel. (2004). Att Få Svar: Intervju, Enkät, Observation. Stockholm: Bonnier Utbildning. pp. 25-40


8. Linderoth, Jonas. (2007). (red.) Datorspelandets Dynamik. Lund: Studentlitteratur. pp. 9-17


9. Mauranen, Anna. (2012). Exploring ELF: Academic English Shaped By Non-native Speakers. pp.25-30


10. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 17-20


11. Patel, Runa & Davidson, Bo. (2011). Forskningsmetodikens Grunder: Att Planera, Genomföra Och Rapportera En Undersökning. Lund: Studentlitteratur. pp. 25-40


12. Sandford, R., Ulicsak, M., Facer, K. and Rudd, T. (2006). Teaching With Games. Bristol: Futurelab. [online] Pp. 45-50

<http://archive.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/project_reports/teaching_with_ga mes/TWG_report.pdf> (Accessed 23 April 2013).

13. Seidlhofer, Barbara. (2011). Understanding English As A Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 5-15. Pp. 15-17. Pp. 18-20


14. Stanley, Graham. (2012). Language Teaching And Learning: Online Digital Games And Gamification. P.2


(Accessed 17 May 2013).


15. Whelchel, Aaron. (2007). Using Civilizaiton Simulation Video Games In The World History Classroom. In World History Connected, Volume 4, Issue 2. Pp. 29-45


[online] (Accessed 17 May 2013).


16. Council of Europe. [www] Common European Framework Of Reference For Languages. [online] (Accessed 17 May 2013).



17. ‘Affection Language’ video



18. ‘LoL’ official website.



19. ‘LoL’ trailer video.



20. ‘LoL’ stream video



21. ‘LoL’ official website ‘Glossary’



22. ‘Warframe’ official website. ‘Main server’



23. ‘Waframe’ trailer video



24. ‘Warframe’ stream video



25. ‘Warframe’ official website. ‘Glossary’.

<https://forums.warframe.com/index.php?/topic/393668-warframe- dictionary/>



26. ‘FIFA’ website in world web. ‘Ultimate Team Glossary’



27. ‘FIFA’ trailer video



28. ‘WOW’ official website



29. ‘WOW’ trailer video



30. ‘WOW’ stream video



31. ‘WOW’ wiki wow website



32. ‘CS: GO’ official website



33. ‘CS:GO’ trailer video



34. ‘CS:GO’ stream video



35. ‘CS: GO’ website glossary

1. <https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=239678197>


Date: 2016-04-22; view: 753

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