Paratextual Play: Unlocking the Nature of Making-of Material of Games

Glas René
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Similar as to how films are accompanied with bonus features and extras on their dvd release, digital games too are sometimes released with supplemental materials which provide insight in the creative development process. Examples of these are behind-the-scenes documentaries, concept art, audio commentaries, and so on. In the study of digital games this material could easily be overlooked or primarily seen as marketing material outside and therefore not part of a game itself. This paper will discuss a shift in the paratextual location and function of making-of material from an external to internal or even integral part of the digital game experience. In some contemporary games, making-of material has become a feature which has a visible presence during play, and at times can only be accessed by unlocking them, which invites players to forms of paratextual play. In these play situations, paratext and text entangle, resulting not just in a potential shaping of the understanding but also of the playing of digital games, making them part of players’ gaming capital. By engaging with this type of making-of material, players are not just framed as knowledgeable insider in the creative process of game design but also acknowledged expert in terms of gaming prowess, requiring us to rethink how we approach making-of material as paratexts.


Of discs, boxes and cartridges: the material life of digital games

Toivonen Saara Sotamaa Olli
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

So far the field of game studies has mostly bypassed the everyday meanings attached to the material manifestations of digital games. Based on qualitative survey data, this article examines what kind of personal and collective values are attached to the physical copies of games, including the storage medium and packaging. The results show how materiality resonates with the reliability and unambiguity of ownership. Furthermore, games as physical objects can have a key role in the project of creating a home, receiving their meaning as part of a wider technological and popular cultural meaning structure. Finally, collecting associates games with more general issues of identity, sociability and history. Through storing and organising games and having them on display, gamers position themselves as part of game culture, gather subcultural capital and ensure the possibility for nostalgia.