Call for Papers: Gaming Paratexts

Special Issue

While the vast majority of game studies work examines games themselves, the paratexts that surround them are equally important for giving games their cultural meaning. We consider paratexts themselves as artifacts, pieces, and/or objects that are game-adjacent or surround the main artifact. Harvie (2017) importantly explores how they are meaningful in terms of influencing our reception of the gaming text, such as the way loading screens and main menus introduce us to relevant parts of gameplay and give us additional information about how to play the game. Paratexts can include interview material, pop figures, magazines, wikis, websites, videos, game walkthroughs, and guides. They, as Fernández-Vara (2019) notes, may influence the player to “read the text a certain way” (p. 7). As such, the exploration of game paratexts is deeply connected to our study of games.    

As Švelch (2020) explores, the growing impact of games has caused the realm of paratexts to also shift across its approximately 38 year long history, depending on the field in which it is being utilized. Different scholars, researchers, and players use the term in a variety of ways and, through this call, we are interested in how this continues to occur. We are keeping our breadth open, considering both how it is used in game analysis, with players, and the physical or digital objects we frame as critical artifacts to the fields. Thinking through this evolution invites us to evaluate the impact that these game-adjacent materials provide, like the nostalgia embedded in downloading cheat codes or purchasing game guides that hint at the larger social, cultural, and political norms of games. 

It is important to acknowledge how paratexts are wrapped in questions of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, audience, agency, identity, and representation, among others. Early video game advertisements and even game guides were geared towards an imagined audience of young, cisgender, white, heteronormative male gamers with little consideration for the fact that many people play games (Fisher, 2015). Even if the games discussed in, for instance, gaming magazines offered the option to play as men or women with virtually no differences in gameplay, the articles often disregarded the ability to play as a woman, as “the option to play as either sex is presented by the magazines at best as an ‘also-can’ experience, one that is secondary to the main gameplay experience, that of playing the game as a man” (p. 263). Additionally, the gendered violence component of gaming magazines and gaming advertisements cannot be ignored, as the sheer violence and portrayal of the (mostly) men who enact and glorify it are the focus of the image-based content in most gaming magazines (Sharrer, 2004). Further, Burgess et al.’s (2011) content analysis of video game magazines indicated that racial “representations” within these magazines were mostly boiled down to racial stereotypes, promoting ideas of Black and Latinx characters as more aggressive and more likely to engage and incite illicit activities and violence (p. 302). With this in mind, articles submitted to this issue can ask and/or seek to address the following: has the audience and paratext construction in terms of reception changed? In what ways? Are there more equitable and accurate representations of BIPOC populations, if any, in more recent paratexts? Has there been a shift in focus towards inclusivity, or has there been a perpetuation of the rhetorical messages previously noted? To what extent?  

Expanding on the work of Harvie (2017), Švelch (2020), and Fisher (2015), this special issue will explore the elasticity of paratexts. We want to hear from scholars, players, designers, makers, artists, and others who are interested in discussing the paratexts of games. 

Articles may discuss (but are not limited to):

  • archiving projects of gaming magazines
  • commentary on the accessibility of strategy guides
  •  ideas surrounding community and/or cultural impact of gaming magazines, strategy guides, etc.
  • essays on topics of the gaming journalism industry
  • Content analysis of recent gaming magazines and paratexts, including analyses that address issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, identity, and representation


Burgess, M. C. R., Dill, K. E., Stermer, S. P., Burgess, S. R., & Brown, B. P. (2011). Playing With Prejudice: The Prevalence and Consequences of Racial Stereotypes in Video Games. Media Psychology, 14(3), 289–311.

Fernández-Vara, C. (2019). Introduction to game analysis. Routledge. 

Fisher, H. D. (2015). Sexy, Dangerous—And Ignored: An In-depth Review of the Representation of Women in Select Video game Magazines. Games and Culture, 10(6), 551–570. 

Harvie, S. (2017). The paratexts of video games. First Person Scholar. Retrieved from

Scharrer, E. (2004). Virtual Violence: Gender and Aggression in Video Game Advertisements. Mass Communication and Society, 7(4), 393–412. 

Švelch, J. (2020). Paratextuality in game studies: A theoretical review and citation analysis. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research, 20(2).

Abstracts should be 150-250 words in length (?), and are due by March 14th, 2023.  Articles may be commentaries, essays, book reviews, interviews, multimedia projects, or other formats . Articles should be submitted via the link to the form below:

FPS Submission Form: Gaming Paratexts