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The world of computer gaming is an area in which one can clearly see the communication
dynamic between speaker and listener due to the inherent mechanics of the games themselves
that promote collective effort and communication with ones teammates over individual skill
alone. However, these mechanics also make instances of communication breakdowns so
undesirable that, if it happens, some players suffer the repercussions of this collapse.
Defense of the Ancients or DotA as it is colloquially known is a team-based real-time
strategy game where two teams of four to six players take control of powerful characters and
fight to destroy the other teams base. The game mechanics are basically a modified version of
Capture the Flag where, similar to the latter, strategy and concerted actions play a crucial role
(Walbridge 2008), so it is only normal to see DotA players give orders to their teammates during
heated matches.
In this type of game, effective communication between players is often the difference between
success and failure (Dabbish, Kraut & Patton 2012), so when these lines of communication break
it can be expected to cause massive repercussions to everyone involved. As an avid gamer
myself, I had experienced first-hand just how important communication is during matches. I
have also experienced many breakdowns in team communication and the consequences of such.
Once, I was playing a match with my usual group of friends in school during our free period, but
since we were all in different classes, some of my teammates were in other rooms instead of
sitting together like we usually do. Without the ability to communicate orally, we had to rely on
the in-game chat system. It was a fairly straightforward game at first and we had the upper-hand
for most of the part, so much so that we allowed ourselves to relax near the end of the game.
That was our mistake.
In the pivotal moment where our nearly-defeated opponents were making their final charge, they
planned a clever counter-offensive to consolidate our focus into one part of the game map while
another group blindsided us from behind. Unfortunately for them, I noticed their hidden assets
and tried to inform my teammates of the plot through the chat system. However, the time it
usually takes to type and send the message than just saying it was slower slow enough for our
opponents to execute their plan with mechanical precision. Ultimately, all of our characters were
wiped out in one fell swoop, and with our entire team dead, the opposition freely decimated our
base at their leisure and took the match. A single late message had cost us what could have been
a winning game.
In a normal match, the usual interaction between team members can be said to follow Lasswells
Model which describes a linear model of communication from the Communicator as he or she
transmits a Message through a Medium to a Receiver in order to produce an Effect (Dwyer
2012). In the same way, my team members and I simply notified each other on in-game

developments through oral or visual usually typed means and acted accordingly in response
to the information which simplified our interactions to a mere cause-and-effect dynamic.
Lasswells Model, however, seems to be inapplicable to normal situations since it fails to take
into account the various obstacles that impede us from communicating with one another which,
in our case, corresponded to instances of computer lag and physical separation. It presupposes an
ideal atmosphere which is almost impossible to exist outside of theory, and as such, is the reason
why I think that the Shannon-Weaver Model would apply to our situation instead.
The Shannon-Weaver Model is a more realistic communication diagram which describes a linear
form of communication like in Lasswells Model, with a Sender who sends a message through
an Encoder, which is then received by a Decoder, which relays it to the Receiver. The main
difference between them is that the message conveyed between them is distorted by the presence
of Noise by the time it reaches the recipient (Dwyer 2012). The levels of distortions vary, but in
most cases, the message itself would turn out different than how it was originally relayed.
Noise can be divided into three categories: (1) external noise; (2) psychological noise; and (3)
physiological noise. The first kind pertains to those environmental stimuli from the Sender or
Receivers surroundings like car horns, social chatter, and the like. The second kind refers to
personal factors that affect the Receivers understanding or compliance to the message, such as
his or her degree of knowledge, personal assumptions and biases, or attitudinal factors. The last
refers to the physical obstacles that prevent either the Sender or Receiver to convey or interpret
the message properly, as was with my case.
In our breakdown, the physiological noise the substantial delay for the message to compose
and send as well as the fact that we were not seated together caused our defeat. I felt that if we
had been seated together, or if I had another faster channel of communication, we might not have
lost the match.
In the fast-paced and information-driven world we live in today, the importance of
effective lines of communication cannot be stressed enough. It is the cornerstone in every plan
and the defining characteristic of every person be it a natural or juridical existence. If
information was power, then the effectiveness of communication is the measure by which this
power is exercised. Having that said, ones choice of ones preferred mode of relaying
information may mean the difference between effectively conveying ones message or it
becoming lost in translation. To put it into perspective, let us take Skype as an example.
Skype is an online point-to-point communication software that allows users to communicate
through video chats, audio calls, and traditional chat-based message systems (Tramontana 2011).
Considering our situation then, my teammates and I could have used Skype to overcome our
problem since it could have allowed us to communicate faster, which would have ultimately
allowed us to win in the end.

Dabbish, L., Kraut, R., & Patton, J. (2012). Communication and Commitment in an Online
Game Team (Report No. ACM 978-1-4503-1015-4/12/05). Available at:
on_v1.9_CameraReady.pdf [Accessed 8 February 2015].
Dwyer, J. (2012). Communication for Business and the Professions: Strategies and Skills. 5th
Edition. Pearson Australia.
Pasfield-Neofitou, S. (2014). Language Learning and Socialization Opportunities in Game
Worlds: Trends in First and Second Language Research. Language and Linguistics Compass.
8(7), pp. 271-284.
Tramontana, C. (2011). Communication Breakdown: The Introduction of Several
Communication Technology Innovations, the Societal Effects, and the Disconnect in the Way
that We Connect. Available at: [Accessed 8
February 2015].
Walbridge, M. (2008). Analysis: Defense of the Ancients - An Underground Revolution.
Available at: [Accessed 8
February 2015].