Learner interaction in a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG): A sociocultural discourse analysis
This exploratory study investigates the linguistic a nd social inte raction of fo ur intermediate EFL learners during game play in a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Twelve illustrative episodes drawn from the participants' text chat, collected in four 70-minute sessio ns held over a one-month period, a re a nalyzed from a sociocultural perspective. Qualitative analysis reveals the presence of interactional features associated with the development of sociocultura l
... ociocultura l competence. Throughout this study the learners successfully engaged in collaborative social interaction involving dialogue, conducted exclusively in the target language. Participants made appropriate use of politeness involving greetings, informal language, small talk, humor, and leave-takings, as a means to support the operation of collaborative interpersona l relationships. These relationships appea red based o n reciprocity, friendship, and teamwork. They were effective iin facilitating the creation o f a low stress atmosphere characterized by social cohesion that was conducive to co-construction, a nd the consistent production of coherent target language output. The data indicates that the learners were able to jointly establish, and maintain, states of intersubjectivity through the use of continuers, a nd requests for assista nce relevant to in-game tasks. Learner feedback was positive, and suggests that although the participants found the game play challenging, as this research progressed they became increasingly comfortable as their familiarity with the game increased. Aspects of pa rticipation identified by the learners as beneficia l included opportunities for risk-ta king, enhanced fluency practice, a nd exposure to vocabula ry not no rmally encountered in regula r la nguage classes. The a nalysis suggests that the game provided access to an environment conducive to forms of collaborative target language use and social interaction identified as beneficial in the sociocultural account of la nguage development.