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Vocabulary Learning Strategies in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games

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posted on 11.11.2021, 00:18 by Bytheway, Julie Ann

This small‐scale case‐study used research processes inherent in Grounded Theory to identify and explain vocabulary learning strategies used by players in MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role‐playing games), an informal second language learning context. This investigation was in response to informal reports of second language vocabulary gains from gamers at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) and the University of Twente (The Netherlands). Data was collected from observations of, interviews with, and elicited texts from six participants, and three types of extant texts from World of Warcraft. Constant comparative analysis was used to allow patterns and processes to emerge from the data to explain social phenomena. Participants identified fifteen vocabulary learning strategies and aspects of MMORPGs that affect these strategies. Vocabulary learning strategies in MMORPGs are affected by play, which affects learning processes and motivation; MMORPG culture, which affects participants’ interaction, curiosity, and independent learning; and the range and use of language in MMORPGs, which affects participants’ language use, attitudes, and vocabulary learning strategies. Findings were compared to Gu’s (2005) model of vocabulary learning strategies in contexts, and Gu’s model was adapted to suit this MMORPG second language learning context. Aspects of MMORPGs affect second language vocabulary learning strategies gamers develop, select and use. This study highlights the need to value MMORPGs as contexts for learners’ vocabulary learning strategies and argues for further study into MMORPGs as contexts of vocabulary learning strategies.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Coxhead, Averil