Interweaving action in everyday and virtual worlds: animated displays as the participants' resource in collaborative game-play

Arja Piirainen-Marsh

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

WS156: Interfaces between media, speech, and interaction

This paper takes a microanalytic perspective on investigating the role and impact of media on everyday practices. Drawing on recent work in game studies, interactional sociolinguistics and conversation analysis, I explore how a group of young players interact with a popular video role play game (Final Fantasy X) and how they draw upon and creatively use the linguistic and discursive resources afforded by game in their own activities during collaborative play. Playing a video game is a complex media event, shaped by the temporally unfolding material, visual and textual structure of the game which provides the semiotic framework that players rely on in organising their activity (Goodwin 2000a, 2000b; Burn & Schott 2004). Game-playing is also a social event, involving talk and interaction between the participants in the form of collaborative decision-making, navigating progress through the trajectory of the game and on-line commentary on scenes and events on the screen. In participating in collaborative play, the players draw upon the multimodal resources of the setting, including the unfolding game text and voice-over dialogue, and the sequential structures of talk-in-interaction. This paper analyses how groups of teenage boys playing a video game draw on the language of the game (English) in organising their participation and constructing their experience of the game. The focus of the paper is on turns where the players repeat and animate game characters’ speech in the course of the collaborative play activity. Building on an interaction-based view where language alternation (see e.g. Auer 1998, LiWei 2005, Cromdal & Aronsson 2000, Cromdal 2005) is seen as part of the semiotic resources of the setting, the paper aims to show how players use animated turns to signal their level of engagement with the game, shape the trajectory of game-play and co-construct their understanding of and stance towards unfolding scenes and actions. Animated displays emerge as a flexible resource through which the participants interweave their actions with scenes and events in the game world and co-construct their experience of the game.


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Session: Workshop (part 2)
Interfaces between media, speech, and interaction
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 04