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  • 2021HeritagePhD

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Maidens and monsters: A corpus assisted critical discourse analysis of the representation of gender in The Witcher videogame series

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2021
Number of pages476
Awarding Institution
Award date5/11/2020
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis presents the first corpus linguistic investigation into how language is used to represent gender within a videogame series. The videogame series under analysis is The Witcher, which has three instalments: The Witcher 1 (2007), The Witcher 2 (2011), and The Witcher 3 (2015). The research aims to tackle four research questions. The first research question seeks to explore whether gendered lexemes are salient in this data via a corpus-driven approach. The second research question relates to how the singular nouns man and woman are used to construct gender roles, and thus uses corpus-assisted methods. The third research question signals a departure from traditional corpus methods and is concerned with player choice. Players can choose different options in these videogames, and I have examined how this might allow for different representations of gender. Finally, the fourth research question seeks to explore the representation of gender at a diachronic level, comparing representations across the three games, but is only answered when appropriate to the analysis. The findings of all four research questions ultimately suggest that gender is represented in a complex but problematic way. Typically, female characters are represented as magic-users, while male characters enact physical roles. A transitivity analysis revealed that although men tend to carry out actions and have actions done to them in (roughly) equal amounts, women tend to have actions done upon them considerably more frequently. Further, the player’s choice can impact upon the kinds of gendered representations encountered in the game, although this can be the result of unexpected events occurring as a result of certain choices. Thus, the player has less control over the narratives, despite appearing to be able to influence them. Throughout, I demonstrate the fruitful nature of using corpus linguistic methods on this data and ultimately call for more critical analyses of videogames via corpus methods.