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

Souvik Mukherjee


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.


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

Full Text:



Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print.

Abrahams, Ben. “Permanent Death, Episode 1: An Inauspicious Beginning.” SLRC-Subterranean Loner Rendered Comatose., 2009. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“After-Action Report.”Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2015. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.

Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.

Ashton, Daniel, and James Newman. “Relations of Control: Walkthroughs and the Structuring of Player Agency.” The Fibreculture Journal 16 (2010): n. pag. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Assassin’s Creed II. Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft, 2009. Videogame.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft, 2011. Videogame.

“Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Wiki Guide.” IGN: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Wiki Guide. IGN Entertainment Games, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Barthes, Roland. S/Z. Trans. Richard Miller. Oxford: Blackwell, 1970. Print.

—. Image-Music-Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1978. Print.

Bene, Carmelo, and Gilles Deleuze. Superpositions. Paris: Minuit, 1979. Print.

Boundas, Constantin V. “Edited Introduction.” The Deleuze Reader. Ed. Constantin V. Boundas. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. Print.

Bogue, Ronald. Deleuze on Literature. New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Bowden, Oliver. Assassin’s Creed: The Secret Crusade. London: Penguin UK, 2011. Print.

Calvino, Italo. The Castle of Crossed Destinies. Trans. William Weaver. London: Secker and Warburg, 1977. Print.

“Charles Dickens-Football Manager.” Playwrite. Football Manager, 24 May 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Colebrook, Claire. Gilles Deleuze. 1st ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.

—. Understanding Deleuze. Crows Nest, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin, 2002. Print.

“Command Ops Christmas 2013 AAR-Part 5.” After Action Reporter. N.p., 4 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Consalvo, Mia. Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009. Print.

—. “Zelda 64 and Video Game Fans A Walkthrough of Games, Intertextuality, and Nar-rative.” Television & New Media 4.3 (2003): 321-34. SAGE Publications, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Cook, Michael. “Story Time with Agent 47.” The Escapist. Defy Media, LLC, 20 Jan. 2009. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Cortazar, Julio. Hopscotch: A Novel. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. 1st Pantheon pbk. ed. New York: Pantheon, 1987. Print.

Crawford, Garry, Victoria K. Gosling, and Ben Light. Gamers: The Social and Cultural Significance of Online Games. London: Routledge, 2013. Print.

DeLanda, Manuel. A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2006. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles. “One Less Manifesto.” Trans. A. Orenstein. The Deleuze Reader. Ed. Constantin V. Boundas. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. 204-22. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. Print.

—. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. London: Continuum, 1987. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Claire Parnet. Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. Print.

Empire: Total War. Creative Assembly, Sega, 2009. Video game.

Eskelinen, Markku. “The Gaming Situation:” Game Studies 1.1 (2001): n. pag. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Fallout 3. Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks, 2008. Videogame.

Far Cry 2.Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft, 2008. Videogame.

Fernandez-Vara, Clara. Introduction to Game Analysis. 1st ed. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.

“Frequently Asked Questions-The Let’s Play Archive.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Genette, Gérard. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print.

—. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree/Gérard Genette. Trans. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky. Lincoln; London: University of Nebraska Press, 1997. Print.

Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games, 2008. Videogame.

Glas, René. Battlefields of Negotiation: Control, Agency and Ownership in World of Warcraft. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012. Print.

Gray, Jonathan. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York University Press, 2010. Print.

Halo, Bungie. Microsoft Studios, 2001. Videogame.

Hammock, Lee et al. Halo Graphic Novel. New York; London: Marvel, 2007. Print.

Hocking, Clint. “Biosock.” Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning. Ed. Drew Davidson et al. Pittsburgh: ETC Press, 2009. Print.

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Weblog. Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. HENRYJENKINS, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

Juul, Jesper. Half Real. Cambridge, MA; London: MIT Press, 2005. Print.

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. Trans. Edwin Muir, Willa Muir & E.M Butler. New York: Schocken Books, 1995. Print.

—. The Castle. Trans. Mark Harman. New York: Schocken Books, 1998. Print.

—. Amerika. Trans. Mark Harman. New York: Schocken Books, 2008. Print.

Landow, George P. Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore, MD; London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Print.

Lunenfeld, Peter. The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. Print.

McCracken, Ellen. “Expanding Genette's Epitext/Peritext Model for Transitional Electronic Literature: Centrifugal and Centripetal Vectors on Kindles and iPads.” Narrative 21.1 (2013): 105-24. Project MUSE. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

Murray, Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA; London: The MIT Press, 1998. Print.

Newman, James. Playing with Videogames. London: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Phillips, John. “Agencement/Assemblage.” Theory, Culture & Society 23.2-3 (2006): 108-9. Theory, Culture & Society Ltd., n.p. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Prescott, Mike. “Re: Conference Paper RequestMi.” 11 June 2011. E-mail.

Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar San Diego, Rockstar, 2010. Video game.

Rome: Total War. Creative Assembly, Activision, 2004. Videogame.

Ryan, Marie-Laure. Avatars of Story. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. Print.

“Strikes, Riots and Rebellions. How Do I Stop Them?” GameFAQS. CBS Interactive Inc, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks, 2011. Videogame.

“The Right Forum Place for AAR/Let’s Play Threads?” Alpha Centauri Forum, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“The Rise and Fall of the House of Jimius.” The Rise and Fall of the House of Jimius. N.p.,19 Dec. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Tomcat. “The Zone of Influence: How Paratext Can Change Our Experience with Games.” GameSpot. CBS Interactive Inc, 28 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

“Well Played Journal.” Well Played Journal. ETC Press. Carnegie Mellon University, 12 June 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

“Workshop: Paratext in Digital Culture: Is Paratext Becoming the Story?” University of Bergen, 8 May 2014.Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

World of Warcraft. Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, 2004. Videogame.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Souvik Mukherjee

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.