Russophobia in DotA 2

A critical discursive analysis of online discrimination

In: International Review of Pragmatics
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  • 1 Université Catholique de l’ Ouest and Université de Nantes, France

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Online gaming has been a fascinating field of study for the last ten years, especially in the field of socialization (Kolo & Baur, 2004) or even language use and language learning (Thorne, Black & Sykes, 2009). It has become clear that gamers are able to perform processes of identification in completely new ways in these particular contexts, yet forums linked to specific games become a new source of metapragmatic or metadiscursive utterances. Through their experiences in the game, users make comments, assumptions and draw conclusions in order to ‘do identity’ and separate themselves from Others. The aim of this paper will be to analyse the discourses produced in a corpus of forum discussions linked to “DotA 2”, a popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game where players from every country of the world gather, which leads to specific forms of discrimination—especially towards Russian gamers. In order to analyse these discursive productions and their semantic and pragmatic impacts, we will use three different approaches in order to triangulate our results: a lexicometric analysis (Garric & Capdevielle-Mougnibas, 2009), the semantic study of argumentative possibilities (Galatanu, 2009) and the mobilization of the proximization model (Cap, 2010), in order to understand the semantic variations and dynamics that are at use when gamers publish discourses about Russian players. In particular, we wish to explore how these precise discourses about Russian players are drawing on pragmatics of common sense (Sarfati, 2011), insofar as they rely on prediscourses (Paveau, 2006) to maintain pragmatic effects which imply cognitive impacts on speakers (Maillat & Oswald, 2009) as well as on the interdiscourses at use (Garric & Longhi, 2013).

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