Frontline Learning: The Impact of Online Video Games on Second Language Acquisition and Player Motivation




Gaston, Christian Eldred

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Video games are a form of media-driven entertainment as well as a platform with a potential for intercultural exchange. Particularly online games make it likely for players to encounter speakers of a language other than their own. This qualitative study researches the impact of gaming on second language (or L2) acquisition as well as on players’ motivation to learn a second language. Much of the existing literature focuses on links between video games and vocabulary gains. Other scholars have attempted to establish which genre of games are more conducive to language acquisition. Based on studies to date, video games, and particularly online multiplayer games, expand students’ vocabulary and provide positive reinforcement that encourages further learning (Peterson, 2010; Zheng, et al., 2015). Our study takes the further step of correlating confidence in particular skills to the player’s preferred mode of communication within a game. I hypothesize that communication through text boxes improves confidence in reading and spelling. Conversely, an improvement in speaking and listening skills will occur for players who rely on voice chat. The broader question at the center of my study is motivation: I hypothesize video games will increase learners’ motivation to learn the language. Commonly, studies in the field survey students learning English as an L2 (Ebrahimzadeh & Alavi, 2017; Wattana & Reinders, 2011). However, my research will include native English speakers learning a different L2. To compile qualitative data, I will survey speakers of various languages. The variety will help gauge whether the efficacy of language learning through gaming decreases for languages vastly different from the learner’s native language. Through this study I hope to further our understanding of activities conducive to language acquisition to assist language instructors and language learners alike.



linguistics, video games, online video games, multiplayer games, language learning, language acquisition, L2 learning, L2 acquisition, motivation, learner motivation, foreign language, foreign language education, second language acquisition, SLA, Vygotsky, language, Honors College


Gaston, C. E. (2023). Frontline learning: The impact of online video games on second language acquisition and player motivation. Honors College, Texas State University.


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