Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Wordclouds - Static and Dynamic

If faced with the task of reading a number of texts on the same subject matter, it can be useful to compare them with the help of some sort of automated tool. Of course, as you read the texts, you will note patterns of similar concepts and perhaps words, but an IT tool such as a Wordcloud maker can really help visualize patterns in a very clear and notable way. Some examples follow.

What is a Game ? This question was recently thrown into the learning pot for debate. So as an experiment I thought I would play with a Wordcloud maker and run it at some of the better known texts about game definition. The first text is Wittgenstein's famous Philosophical Investigations treatise from 1958, admittedly not entirely about games, containing more about definitions of definition:
created at

The next text is Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman's Rules of Play, a lot more game going on:

created at

The final text is Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design, again predictably a lot more emphasis on games and related words, such as play and players:

created at

If you are looking at text that recounts an event or events over time, such as a diary, there may be a change in emphasis in the writer’s perspective or opinions. Such is the case for James Stephen's diary account of the Easter Week Rising in Dublin in 1916. In this case, it can be useful to add a dynamic feature to the Wordcloud presentation, the better to appreciate the evolving nature of the account through the frequency of words used throughout the day by day recording of the event. A simple animated gif can portray the sense of movement in the author’s mind as the language changes, which perhaps reflected the viewpoints of his friends and neighbours.

This example is an animated gif of word clouds of James Stephen's day by day account of the Easter Rising week, starting on Easter Monday, and finishing the following Monday. The first Monday the words Green Men stand out, on the last Monday, note how the words Ireland and England stand out.

James  Stephens - 1916 Diary Animated


Wittgenstein, L., & Anscombe, G. E. M. (1997). Philosophical investigations. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Tekinbaş, K. S., & Zimmerman, E. (2003). Rules of play: Game design fundamentals. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Schell, J. (2008). The art of game design: A book of lenses. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann.

James Stephens, The Insurrection in Dublin (1916) - II. (2016). Retrieved 15 April 2016, from

No comments:

Post a Comment