Text Adventure Games: Achaea and the GRE

GRE text game score

By Lisa Ohanian

Text adventure games, more so than any other genre of game, require a strong grasp of language. They aren't a button-mashing kind of game, nor are they simply abstract theorizing about damage output or puzzles. At their very core they are games about words; choosing a word with the correct connotation, or stringing together an artistic sentence.

So of course the argument can easily be made that text adventure games can help increase one's vocabulary, right? I had no idea how correct I was until I began studying for the GRE.

For those of you who don't know, 'GRE' stands for 'Graduate Record Examination', and the thing itself is a widely-used standardized test in the United States and the English-speaking world. It serves as an admission requirement for most non-specialized graduate programs (business students, medical students and law students take separate exams), and is designed to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because when I started studying for the GRE, I was truly shocked to realize how much my favorite text adventure game, Achaea, had affected my vocabulary. It began innocently enough, when my roommate and I decided to go through a list of commonly used words on the GRE from a study book and see what we knew to start off with. On the very first list of words alone, I recognized the following due to my text game habit (perhaps you'll recognize a play of them yourself, if you play Achaea as well):

Cacophony - "harsh discordance of sound". If you've ever been to the Siroccian Mountains, you'll find the orcish women singing a cacophonous tune.

Caustic - "severely critical or sarcastic". One of the Divine of Achaea, I believe Pandemonium, has a voice that is described as 'caustic' when He shouts things across the world.

Ephemeral - "lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory'. This one is not technically hard-coded into the game, but one of the past city leaders of Shallam, Mirane, wore 'Ephemeral Dawn' in her title.

Implacable - "not to be appeased, mollified, or pacified". If you've ever used the STARE emote directed at another player, your character stares implacably at them.

Nebulous - "vague; cloudy; lacking clearly defined form". Anyone who has ever been friends with a Magi should be familiar with the nebulous water weirds that they're able to summon.

Noxious - "harmful; injurious". The red fog so synonymous with Mhaldor is described as noxious' (I'll admit I already knew this word before I saw it in Achaea, but the association was strong, which helped).

And this was only in the first set of fifty words!

While it is no secret that text games can help one's vocabulary and writing skills, I write this article today because I know that I, for one, had always believed that in a very abstract way. I played for non-educational reasons, of course, so I never stopped to think about what, if anything, I was learning. I've always thought of my vocabulary as particularly strong, too, so I was privately skeptical about how much tangible benefit I could really get from a game. Imagine my surprise when I knew over 10% more words than I otherwise would have due to my text game habit!

The moral of the story is never to underestimate the power of text games in developing a stronger vocabulary and a stronger grasp of the English language (or whatever language your favorite text game might happen to be in). Just make sure not to skip other forms of studying altogether!

If you don't mind accidentally improving your vocabulary while you play, try out some text adventure games today!

Lisa Ohanian is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lisa_Ohanian

Comments

 It's very interesting to see how a game can help improve ones vocabulary. Not only does the game entertain you but it can also teach you valuable skills.

I love how this game uses so many different words. It actually feels as if you've gone into a different, somewhat archaic world. I wouldn't change it for anything.

+1

...then you venture into other places on the interweb and end up hurting yourself from all the facepalming.

oh

i get it

It is true that text based games teach you new words...and you don't even notice it really.

Let me be the first to tell you text muss will not help you on the GRE. Unless you use the word in all of its definitions and contexts somehow. I hate to be the bearer of bad news...

Part of the reasons I am playing is to improve my English vocabulary. True.

As a non-native speaker, I go and look up the new words I discover, not only because they are sometimes critical to the understanding of a sentence but also because I like improving my vocabulary. I can't yet do "fancy" descriptions like some people can, but on the other hand sometimes it feels like a sentence was forcibly dragged through Thesaurus to find the most obscure synonyms for common words. Which is rather silly.

Well, there is a difference between staring implacably and afixing one's opticals inorexibly. The first one describes the action well enough, and just uses the vocabulary to expand its meaning while keeping the length relatively short. The latter just kind of barfs out synonyms. D:

That said, what you said reminds me of a computer programmer (or at least someone in charge of the process) who thought him (or her?) self an expert writer, and wrote lengthy dialogue options (think like "I whole-heartedly approve of the above" vs "OK"). The dialogue typically went unread because 1. the average computer user does not want to sit there and read every dialogue option and 2. the terminology used was sometimes way beyond layman-level writing, plus most people accustomed to computers can simply guess which button means "OK" by its location in most cases, and will do that instead of actually reading. The writer might've thought him/herself to be an expert writer, but by failing to communicate, they proved themself otherwise. D:

I've noticed my creativity in writing and grammar have dramatically increased for the better, since I began playing text games. Then again, they weren't very low to begin with. Still, it's a noticeable difference when you find something you wrote prior to joining the text game community and compare it to virtually anything during or after.

So true

Good one. The entire game world is built on words, and that's a good way to learn new ones.

I love that one of the atmospheric messages uses the word coruscating. I once wrote a story which used 'coruscating' to describe something and discovered that not one person I showed it to had any idea what it meant, despite it being such an amazingly descriptive word,

Playing has improved my spelling too.

same here!