Trash-talking versus Toxicity: An Analysis of /All Chat Exchanges between Southeast Asian Players of an Online Competitive Game

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Eng How Lim
Sompatu Vungthong
Wannapa Trakulkasemsuk


With the advent of online gaming becoming such an inherent part of popular culture, the issue of toxicity, particularly in online competitive games, has never been more relevant. In the /all chat, however, where communication between players of opposing teams is expected to be hostile, there have been debates in community forums about whether that type of communication constitutes as toxicity or another form of aggressive discourse, trash-talking. Because both concepts have never been reconciled together in past studies, this study attempts to develop a preliminary framework using categories and definitions from prior studies of each discourse, for the purpose of analyzing instances of toxicity and trash-talking in the /all chat. Thus, a total of 26 /all chat logs from the Southeast Asian server of the online competitive game Dota 2 were procured. Using content analysis, the /all chat logs were then coded for toxic and trash-talking instances to determine how they are manifested among players in the /all chat with key reference to context. It was found that toxic instances occurred rarely in the /all chat and were mostly derived from in-fighting between players of the same team. Trash-talking particularly dominated the /all chat and though the talk appears unpleasant, it is representative of an aggressive discourse with competitive stakes. Finally, new types and categories were also found and documented for each discourse, further contributing to the existing literature of both toxicity and trash-talking.

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Lim, E. H., Vungthong, . S., & Trakulkasemsuk, W. (2024). Trash-talking versus Toxicity: An Analysis of /All Chat Exchanges between Southeast Asian Players of an Online Competitive Game. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 17(1), 816–856. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Eng How Lim, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi

A M.A. student majoring in English for Professional and International Communication at the School of Liberal Arts, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. He first acquired his B.A. degree in English Language & Linguistics from Universiti Brunei Darussalam and is currently interested in the following research areas: discourse analysis, pragmatics, content analysis and languages in online games.

Sompatu Vungthong, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi

An Assistant Professor at the School of Liberal Arts, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand, and a PhD graduate from the Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia. Her research interests include EFL teaching, systemic functional linguistics, critical discourse analysis and social semiotics.

Wannapa Trakulkasemsuk, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi

An Associate Professor at the School of Liberal Arts, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. Her research interests include World Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca, language and communication, discourse analysis and corpus-based language analysis.


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