“Shut the fuck up and plant the bomb fast”:Reconstructing language and identity in First Person Shooter Games

Submitted by: Elisavet Kiourti
Abstract: Video games are often associated with increased aggression and delinquent behavior of the players claiming “consistent relation between violent video game use increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions, aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression” (American Psychological Association 2015:11). Research across disciplines, though, indicates that gaming contexts are far more complex and demanding environments than publicly assumed: Video games are rich contexts for learning. Talk-in-interaction in video games is a highly performative event where those who take part are ascribed specific roles and participation membership; they follow certain rituals and rules and they embed contextual knowledge and literacy practices.

Drawing on the framework of Sociolinguistics (Fairclough 2001), Theory of Politeness (Allan and Burridge 2006), Unified Discourse Analysis (Gee 2015) and Frame Analysis (Goffman 1974), the current paper follows a line of ethnographic lense that focuses on a multimodal analysis of the linguistic strategies of swearing and bad language performed by four youth Cypriot gamers during gameplay of Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

The data of the research reveal that video games function as frame social spaces in which swearing and bad language practices have effective purposes. More specifically, players use swearing as a linguistic strategy with an aim to prevent individual or team-based performative face-loss when communicative violations occur during gameplay. Secondly, the use of swearing and expletives functions as linguistic strategy to cool stress and to ensure in-group bonding. Finally, players use swearing and expletives as fast language mechanisms to provide feedback to their co-players when they employ low performative actions during gameplay. Players, in other words, break the rules of politeness for the sake of effective gameplay and to protect and maintain their positive identity as gamers.


Allan, K. and K. Burridge (2006), Forbidden words: taboo and the censoring of language.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

American Psychological Association (2015), APA Review Confirms Link Between Playing
Violent Video Games and Aggression [online]. Available from: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/violent-video-games.aspx (Accessed 12 June 2018).

Fairclough, N. (2001), Language and power, Harlow, Eng.: Longman.

Gee, J. P. (2015), Unified discourse analysis: language, reality, virtual worlds, and video
Games, London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Goffman, E. (1974), Frame Analysis: an essay on the organization of experience,
Cambridge:Harvard University Press.