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“I cut it and I… well now what?”: (Un)collaborative language in timed puzzle games

Rudge, Luke A.


Luke Rudge
Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics


Astrid Ennslin

Isabel Balteiro


Language, in its production and reception, allows us to perform collaborative tasks. These tasks may involve language solely, such as the sentencing of a criminal by a judge, or by using language alongside physical actions. In the world of video gaming, particularly in collaborative multiplayer situations wherein a task needs to be completed within a certain amount of time, effective collaborative communication between players is critical.

This chapter presents a small-scale, preliminary study on the use of language between players cooperating to achieve a goal in a time-limited situation. Specifically, this work analyses the use of (un)collaborative language employed between players in the game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Linguistic analysis is performed from two different yet complementary perspectives: via Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and Conversation Analysis (CA). Both approaches have strong links regarding the use of language in context, and can analyse interactive elements of communication, but do so from different angles. This approach is taken to show, both quantitatively and qualitatively, a sample of linguistic factors that may contribute to the (un)successful completion of a collaborative task.

If it is assumed that collaborative efforts and communication are precursors to greater task success (i.e. the more people work together to complete a task, the more likely it will be performed successfully, correctly, or on-time), then it may be argued that certain factors in communication exist that correlate with instances of task success or failure. In other words, certain features in communication may be understood to be ‘collaborative’ (e.g. permitting appropriate time for turn-taking) and ‘uncollaborative’ (e.g. deliberate and frequent interruptions). Nonetheless, given the preliminary nature of such an investigation in video gaming, further study is encouraged.


Rudge, L. A. (2019). “I cut it and I… well now what?”: (Un)collaborative language in timed puzzle games. In A. Ennslin, & I. Balteiro (Eds.), Approaches to Videogame Discourse: Lexis, Interaction, Textuality (178-200). Bloomsbury Publishing

Online Publication Date May 2, 2019
Publication Date May 2, 2019
Deposit Date May 24, 2019
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 178-200
Book Title Approaches to Videogame Discourse: Lexis, Interaction, Textuality
Chapter Number 8
ISBN 9781501338465
Keywords Videogames, Discourse, Collaboration, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Conversation Analysis, Technology, Linguistics, Language
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