We play a game and absorb a lot of created by the developers. Gorgeous tropic landscapes; the honks, footsteps and clatter of an urban environment; the dialectic change for stepping into 1950s New York in the Bronx. The developers and artists and writers put a lot of time sculpting and crafting their environment and it leaves an impression on you. When you put down Assassin’s Creed 2, aside from the killing, freerunning, building scaling that you do, you also absorb a bit of 15th century Italy. The architecture becomes recognizable, the attire becomes familiar and you learn many of the ins and outs of getting around the city. This very much thanks to the developing teams request to keeping the game period perfect and because of that, a part of the game seeps into us and we learn from it and grow from it.
For this short iteration of Gaming on Data, I got a bit curious about the scripts behind the game, the writing for the game because gaming is just as much a visual distraction as it is a conceptual one. Much of the writing that a player comes out of the characters that interact within it, so that’s what I focused on.
For this, I scraped the internet for a few scripts for somewhat current AAA titles are prolific in that they cause a large impression on the gaming community. But finding these scripts is not easy, so I managed to only get the following:
- Bioshock 2
- Bioshock Infinite
- Call of Duty – Black Ops
- Call of Duty – Black Ops 2
- Call of Duty – Ghosts
- Call of Duty – Modern Warfare
- Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2
- Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3
- Curse of Monkey Island
- Grand Theft Auto 4
- Half Life
- Half Life 2
- Mass Effect
- Mass Effect 2 (Incomplete)
- Mass Effect 3
- Portal 2
- Red Dead Redemption
- Secret of Monkey Island
- Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
- Uncharted 2
- Uncharted 3
The above is a graph showing the number of unique words within each game and something obvious jumps out: RPGs and Open World games have a lot of text. Not even by a small margin, like a significant margin.
“Water is wet, so what? “
Fine, fine. What’s more interesting is when you look at the kinds of words that the game uses.
The above graph shows an odd highlighting for each game. The highlighting is based on the average Sentiment of the words used throughout the game. What a Sentiment of word is a gradient of negativity to positivity of that world. “Hero” would give you a +2, while “cut” would give you a -1 and “fucker” would give you a -4, you get the idea. So looking at the graph red denotes how negative a game’s script generally is and green denotes how positive a game’s script generally is.
That means that the war-mongering army elite soldiers of Call of Duty have terrible Harsh Language for a game, as does Grand Theft Auto 4 and Uncharted 2. These games are either throwing expletives like Shithead and Asshole around all over the place and it leaves a more aggressive impression on us. On the flip side, Portal and Portal 2, Skyrim, Secret of Monkey Island are relatively carefree.
But wait a minute, there are a lot of words that aren’t considered good unless they were in a certain context. “Yeah” has been one that has ruined my analysis for a long time because it can be a “YEAH!!” as is AWESOME!!, or “yeah” as an affirmative “ok, I heard ya.”
So we removed the 2,500 most common words from the list and now… everything’s red. All of these AAA games are actually fairly negative when you take out the common words.
But what does this mean for now? That if we look at a game as a whole, at least for the AAA titles that I picked, you’re probably going to find a lot of negativity in there. Or that the writers need to use a thesaurus when talking about something positive.
Most of these games are bleek and serious and aggressive. Even when they aren’t, they poke fun at the aggressiveness in a lighthearted-cynical way. And while the granularity of these graphs don’t show the progress from through the drama and danger to the light at the end of the tunnel, it does show that as a whole gaming needs to at least learn to lighten up a bit.
Blaugust Day 4
August 5, 2015 at 07:03
Interesting topic. Thanks for doing the research.