A Look at Language in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

I have been involved with the course Computational Methods in the Humanities for the past few semesters as a student, project mentor, and TA. The course teaches students how to analyze documents, whether they be novels, scripts, tweets, poems, lyrics, etc., using programmatic techniques. Students work in groups throughout the term on a research question of their choice.

When I was a TA, one group researched the type of language used by characters in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Their project site can be accessed here.  You can poke around their site to see the full script, graphs displaying their findings, and their conclusions about race, gender, speakers in the game, and linguistic elements. It’s an interesting look at what can be done with a video game, and the intricacies underlying the entertainment value.

As a side note, I highly recommend taking the course if you have any interest in digital humanities (no programming experience required!). It is by far one of the most rewarding classes I’ve taken at Pitt.

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One Response to A Look at Language in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

  1. cso9 says:

    Wow, thanks so much for this!

    As a Legend of Zelda fan, this speaks to me (heh).

    I would have never noticed the vast majority of male speakers in comparison to female in Twilight Princess. In fact, it’s even more interesting to note since there’s such a multitude of characters, it would be difficult to keep track of. I could only imagine how tedious it may have been to decipher that during gameplay.

    The section regarding linguistic elements was riveting, as well, because not only did it provide a notable analysis, I felt that certain aspects could be applied to various Zelda games.
    Especially relevant:
    “Whenever something new happens in Hyrule, the people become more unsure of what is happening to their world. As we said, background information primarily comes from Deities, Sages, and Princess Zelda, who give Link the answers later.”

    ^This seems to be a common theme applicable to the entire series, or at least the games I’ve played: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
    In OoT, when Link is a child, Hyrule is thriving with life and purity from the castle, to the fields, and even his homeland, the Kokiri Forest. He experiences a nightmare foreseeing Ganondorf abducting Princess Zelda, then learns from her that Ganondorf is seeking the Triforce, which holds godlike power. When the world turns dark on Ganon’s behalf, the field is infested with evil, townspeople turn to zombies, & so forth. Case and point, while everyone is in turmoil, Link and his guides are the only ones who seem to know what is happening & how to combat it, which delivers much of the game/story’s background information.
    I would go into MM but I’m sure you already get the point!

    “This comes with both Link and the real world user getting used to the physical controls of weapons and therefore needing less frequent tutorials.”

    ^ On the behalf of Tutorials and Guidelines slowly disappearing throughout the story, I think this is a good example of Bogost’s “proceduralism”. The procedure throughout the game is to continue learning different moves, navigating through worlds, and interpreting cues. It is also a pretty neat concept that you essentially learn with Link, understanding the game while he grows and understands the world around him.

    Like

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