Process, Paratexts, and Texts: Rhetorical Analysis and Virtual Worlds

Christopher A. Paul


This essay addresses how rhetorical analysis can be applied to the study of virtual worlds.  Rhetoric, which focuses on persuasion and ways of knowing, offers a strong, qualitative methodological approach for scholars engaged in virtual worlds research.  A background in the history of rhetorical studies is complemented by analysis of how rhetoric has been applied to virtual worlds and game studies to develop a perspective for analysis of three kinds of texts found in the discourse of virtual worlds.  These three types of texts: in-world play structures, or procedures; texts surrounding the worlds, or paratexts; and primary texts of virtual worlds, like narrative and images; provide rhetorical scholars plenty of surfaces to critique.  Patch 3.3.0 of World of Warcraft is used as a case study to demonstrate how to engage in rhetorical criticism of virtual worlds and how the various texts are presented in practice.


rhetoric; process; procedural rhetoric; paratexts; text; World of Warcraft

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