Paratextuality in Game Studies: A Theoretical Review and Citation Analysis

My new article about paratextual scholarship in game research was published in the June 2020 issue of the open access journal Game Studies. In Paratextuality in Game Studies: A Theoretical Review and Citation Analysis, I identify and discuss three major approaches to paratextuality: (1) the original framework proposed by Gérard Genette, (2) the expanded framework popularized in game studies by Mia Consalvo, and (3) the reduced framework suggested by Werner Wolf and applied to games by Annika Rockenberger. Besides noting the key differences between these approaches and their suitability for specific areas of game studies, such as production studies or formal analysis, I track the distribution of these frameworks and their respective key references on a corpus of 235 English publications published between 1997 and 2019. 

Chart of citations of key texts related to paratextuality.

One of the key findings is that the majority of the analyzed publications (71%) follow the expanded approach, which is further supported by the amount of direct references to Consalvo's Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames (2007). This book, which represents the first major introduction of the expanded approach to game studies, was cited more often than Genette's own major monograph on the topic Paratexts: Threshold of Interpretation (1997 [1987]). In the article, I do not attempt to declare which framework is the "right" one, instead I explore their individual strengths and weaknesses and argue for greater terminological clarity and the acknowledgement of these three distinct approaches by scholars who use the concept of paratextuality.

The same issue of Game Studies also features Jaroslav Švelch's article Should the Monster Play Fair?: Reception of Artificial Intelligence in Alien: Isolation. Make sure to check that one out, too.