The affable Vincent Camp, ’19, is an unlikely evangelist for the value of a knock-down, drag-out brawl. And yet there he was, in Lexington, Kentucky, in the summer of 2019, convincing linguists that they needed a little fighting to get what they wanted.

Thankfully, these fights are digital, a combat element in a video game called Anatolian Trail being developed at the University of Kentucky. The game’s purpose is to teach Proto-Indo-European, the parent language of most languages spoken today in Europe and many in Central and South Asia.

Camp served as lead developer for the game’s combat element during a summer internship with Andrew Byrd, one of the UK linguistics professors leading the project. The two met when Byrd came to UR to lecture about his consulting work on a video game called Far Cry Primal and Camp showed up because of his interest in video game development.

Byrd invited Camp to Lexington because his team was satisfied that word puzzles would be enough to hold gamers’ interest. Byrd thought the game needed battles, and Camp helped him make his case.

“I started coming up with potential ideas for how we could implement a combat system,” Camp said, “because the best way to get people on board with the combat system is having them play it.”

Camp left behind a framework for a novel combat system but admits that the language came less easily because he could do the coding without it.

“Very often they said, ‘Write it in English. We’ll fill it in,’” he said.