How games expose the hidden meanings within language.

People often mean more than they say, but psychologist James Pennebaker would argue that sometimes even they don’t realize it. From his research, he’s found out a lot about people’s relationships based on the way they talk to each other and it’s a lot subtler than one person talking louder than the other.

It’s actually all about function words, things like I, this, that, there, their (the list goes on). The example Pennebaker gives is using the word “I”. In any relationship, whoever has more power will actually use the word less. In an email Pennebaker received, an undergrad used the word 5 times in a few sentences. In his response, he didn’t use it once. Pennebaker believes this knowledge isn’t actually something we can manipulate, we can’t become more powerful through the words we use. The way we speak reflects who we are and it isn’t something we can really control.

Skyrim says hi.

In games, language has become something that we can discover, use and control. Dialogue trees have largely been used as exposition machines but they have a lot more potential than that. In the hands of people that understand langauge better, they could allow for subtle, interesting conversations with other characters. Dialogue trees slow language down so that we can be aware of the precise words we’re using, through them, we can carefully parse each choice’s meaning and imagine how it might effect our relationship to the characters and the world. 

[Via WNYC]