Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics


Tej K. Bhatia


discourse analysis, gaming, identity, linguistics, literacy, video games

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


An exploration of how characters develop identity through language use in a video game’s narrative, specifically in video games that do not allow for players to make narrative-altering choices. The concept of literacies is used to create a critical framework through which to view video games themselves as a literacy, as well as to view them as a discourse. This thesis analyzes how dialogue is used to develop and showcase gender, sexuality, personality, moral identity in characters in and out of the player’s control, as well as how dialogue builds the narrative world in which these characters exist. This thesis includes two case studies, on the Borderlands video game series and the Halo video game series, approaching each series from a perspective that showcases how its unique world and characters are created through language.

Each series has a specific facet to its narrative that is examined in depth; in the Borderlands series, the importance of storytelling to world-building and moral identity, and in the Halo series, the significance of speech itself as an act. Additionally, Destiny is used as a key supplement to these case studies, as it bridges the gap between the identity-and world-building methods used by Halo and Borderlands. Destiny also incorporates the player’s engagement in an online multiplayer universe, creating a unique type of discourse between the player and the game. Finally, as paratexts affect character identity and world-building within each series, the concept of paratexts as they connect to literacy and narrative is thus also examined as an important facet of identity- and world-building.


Open Access