(Game)playing on words: Lexical creativity in multimedia interactive entertainment


Creativity in English, and particularly “lexical creativity” (Munat 2016), has attracted scholarly attention in Linguistics for decades. In this digital age, creative uses of English are examined across a variety of new media, discourses, and genres (Munat 2007), but, with few exceptions, as Ensslin and Balteiro complain (2019a, pp. 2-3), little linguistic research has focused on videogames “as means and objects of communication; how they give rise to new vocabularies, meanings, textual genres, and discourse practices”, that is on videogames as “medium-specific objects and tools of language studies”. Against this background, this paper presents a preliminary descriptive corpus-assisted study aimed to explore lexical creativity in videogames as texts (Ensslin 2015, pp. 407-408) and, especially, in in-game texts (Bernal-Merino 2015, pp. 110-114), in order to contribute to the development of “videogame linguistics” (Ensslin, Balteiro 2019a, p. 3). Accordingly, this research analyses the latest episode of one of the most culturally and commercially successful game franchises at global level, namely The Sims 4 (Electronic Arts 2014), and investigates whether and how game writers creatively exploit and manipulate the English language system at the level of phonology, morphology, or syntax (Munat 2016, p. 92) for the purposes of players’ fun.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v53p397

Keywords: lexical creativity; videogames; videogame linguistics; The Sims.


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