Videogames as “Minor Literature”: Reading Videogame Stories through Paratexts

Souvik Mukherjee

Abstract


Videogames have, since the beginning of game studies as a discipline, been placed at a problematic cusp between games and narratives. Stories are important in videogames, especially in those such as Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), Fallout 3 (2008), and other games with a pronounced narrative intention. However, the element of play and multiplicity of the narrative makes it difficult to analyze them with traditional critical tools: it is easy, therefore, to dismiss them from the narrative canon. Another problem that videogame research faces is that game-narratives are ephemeral and the textual artefact of the game is substantially contained in the player’s experience. However, an entire range of paratexts, such as walkthroughs and after-action reports, where players construct narratives while recording their in-game experiences, are available for analysis. This paper points towards the urgency of beginning to study ludic paratexts like walkthroughs and after-action reports to understand better the narrative process in videogames. In doing so, it will explore how a player has rewritten the history of Rome through Rome: Total War (2004) and how to do science fiction differently in Fallout 3. Simultaneously, it will identify similar characteristics in examples from established literary media, such as Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch (1987) and Italo Calvino’s A Castle of Crossed Destinies (1977), to name only a couple.


Keywords


videogame, paratext, minor literature, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari

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References


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