Gaming Scripts series:

1 – Language and Agressions

3Number of Unique Words color sentiment

Touching back on what we found out in the previous post was that games, in general, use aggressive language considerably. Granted this is from a small sample size of AAA titles, but are titles that permeate through the gaming community. Required reiterating in-case there are new readers to this post who hasn’t read the last one, yet. (Cough, cough.)

But the last post looked at a game as the sum of its parts and not the parts that made up that sum.

6 - Game Script - Lang use over time a-g 7 - Game Script - Lang use over time h-u

And there’s a reason for that. The parts of a game’s script are a bit messy, jumbly and noisy. The above is the running average of the sentiment, the polarity of aggression where negative (red) denotes more aggressive language and positive (green) denotes more friendly language. But these graphs for the most part are bit too noisy to make sense of them aside from the general feeling that a game is. Comparing say the Call of Duty games, where there’s very little green up top but a whole lot of red underneath, makes it easy to assume that its language is more aggressive in nature than say Portal 2 where the opposite is true with its green hair and ginger public area.

But like in the previous post, there is a lot of language can be ambiguous like the words “like” or “yeah” if the context is used in a positive way or a neutral way. “I like that gun you got there” is a bit different of context than “it’s like you’re not even listening.” The other problem is that lazy writers tend to lean on a lot of common words that don’t actually change the neutrality of the sentence, but it does change how a running average works.

8 - Game Script - Lang use over time, minus 10k a-g 9-Game Script - Lang use over time, minus 10k h-u

So we took out the top 10,000 use words in the English language and got a bit less messy of a picture of our games. Grand Theft Auto 4 is now a pretty strong contender for being overtly aggressive but Call of Duty series still has a good grip on that for having sustained aggression over its gameplay where GTA4 has some down time between its violent outbursts.

There’s something interesting things to notice, though.

16 - Game Script - Lang use over time, minus 10k CoD

This picture isolates the Call of Duty series from the rest of the graph. Notice anything interesting? How about if I told you that Treyarch worked on the Black Ops series and that Modern Warfare was generally worked on by Infinity Ward. Anything interesting pop-out now? Like how the Black Ops games are significantly more aggressive than their Modern counterparts? Like how it might be possible to pick out which developer had its hand on the pen based on you giving me the script and telling me that it’s a Call of Duty game?

Well, I thought it was interesting.

Even with stripping out the top 10,000 most used words, the graph still seems a bit noisy. There is a lot of language that can ruin the sentiment, though. These are games and games do throw around a lot of mystic babel and techno babel that are emotionally neutral for most purposes. So let’s rid of those as well.

12- Game Script - Lang use over time, only NonNeutral minus 10k a-g 13 - Game Script - Lang use over time, only NonNeutral minus 10k h-u

Probably a lot more manageable than before, wouldn’t you say? You can follow the arc a lot more closely of what’s going on in the game. Call of Duty Black Ops has you in the thick of death and despair while Modern Warfare ebs for the majority but flows every once in a while, typically at the end of the of each act of the story.

Bioshock toys around with your emotions for much of the game but always has a character giving you reassurance in what you’re doing, regardless of how bleak your situation ends.

Portal stuck with being passive-aggressive and backhandedly reassuring, but the sarcasm of GladOS doesn’t really come out in a plain transcript without intonations, does it? Portal 2 has the early peak with Wheatley and the overt aggression of GladOS early on but those roles reverse in Act 2 till the end.

Keeping spirits high while in the thick of danger, Nathan Drake and his team of meat shields are there to keep the Uncharted series relatively balanced.

I guess all this means is that under the hood, games are still typically aggressive in language, but many games do their best to make it so you’re not getting verbally assaulted throughout the game, either because a character is saying it to themselves, saying it to you or saying something about their current situation. That still doesn’t mean that you don’t feel have some of that aggressive understones rub off on you, but you also get some of the other stuff to rub off on you, too.

… Unless you’re playing Black Ops’ storymode everyday. That shit turns you into a grizzled verteran, apparently.

Twitter: @GIntrospection

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