Categories
Articles (refereed) Research

“The Long Tale of Downloadable Convergence”

Citation: Payne, Matthew Thomas. “The Long Tale of Downloadable Convergence.” The Velvet Light Trap, 81 (Spring 2018): 70-73.

Abstract: …

Categories
Articles (non-refereed) Research

“Wicked Games, Part III: Caution — Contents May Be Hot…and Hidden”

Citation: Payne, Matthew Thomas and Peter Alilunas. “Wicked Games, Part III: Caution — Content May Be Hot…and Hidden.” Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture 22.6 (April 2016). Solicited for inclusion.

Categories
Books

Playing War: Military Video Games after 9/11

Citation:
Payne, Matthew Thomas. Playing War: Military Video Games after 9/11. NYU Press, 2016.

Description:
No video game genre has been more popular or more lucrative in recent years than the “military shooter.” Franchises such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and those bearing Tom Clancy’s name turn over billions of dollars annually by promising to immerse players in historic and near-future battles, converting the reality of contemporary conflicts into playable, experiences. In the aftermath of 9/11, these games transformed a national crisis into fantastic and profitable adventures, where seemingly powerless spectators became solutions to these virtual Wars on Terror.

Playing War provides a cultural framework for understanding the popularity of military-themed video games and their significance in the ongoing War on Terror. Matthew Payneexamines post-9/11 shooter-style game design as well as gaming strategies to expose how these practices perpetuate and challenge reigning political beliefs about America’s military prowess and combat policies. Far from offering simplistic escapist pleasures, these post-9/11 shooters draw on a range of nationalist mythologies, positioning the player as the virtual hero at every level. Through close readings of key games, analyses of marketing materials, and participant observations of the war gaming community, Playing War examines an industry mobilizing anxieties about terrorism and invasion to craft immersive titles that transform international strife into interactive fun.

Categories
Articles (non-refereed)

Wicked Games, Part II: Blood, Sex, and Pixels

Citation:

Payne, Matthew Thomas and Peter Alilunas. “Wicked Games, Part II: Blood, Sex, and Pixels.” Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture 22.4 (February 2016). Solicited for inclusion.

Categories
Articles (non-refereed)

“Wicked Games, Part I: Twenty-sided Demons”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew Thomas and Peter Alilunas. “Wicked Games, Part I: Twenty-sided Demons.” Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture 22.2 (November 2015). Solicited for inclusion.

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“Regulating the Desire Machine: Custer’s Revenge and 8-Bit Atari Porn Games”

NGaXSoFry7Bo1P2tkTWSTCJNFXd4lcOeK8E-LgP0SdECitation:

Payne, Matthew Thomas and Peter Alilunas. “Regulating the Desire Machine: Custer’s Revenge and 8-Bit Atari Porn Video Games,” Television and New Media, in press.

Abstract:
Exploring the short and largely forgotten history of adult-oriented 8-bit video games produced for the Atari 2600 home game console, this essay argues that the games represent an important attempt by media producers to bridge the adult film and interactive entertainment industries. Although American Multiple Industries, Playaround, and Universal Gamex failed to establish a market, their titles nevertheless demonstrate how adult games function as desire machines within an erotic economy that sells a host of anticipatory pleasures. Indeed, the resulting public outcry not only led to the game industry’s first sex-based controversy, but the antagonism signals the desire to regulate sexual expression on a new media technology as game producers—following the lead of adult video professionals—attempted to transport users’ joysticks from living rooms into bedrooms.

Categories
Other essays

“Beyond Minnows and Whales: Reconstructing Mobile Gaming for the Cross-Platform Franchise”

Citation:
Steirer, Gregory and Matthew T. Payne. “Beyond Minnows and Whales: Reconstructing Mobile Gaming for the Cross-Platform Franchise.” White Paper research report presented to Warner Bros. Digital Distribution as part of the Connected Viewing Initiative sponsored by Warner Bros. and the University of California at Santa Barbara (2015).

Executive Summary:
This project identifies and evaluates possible methods of employing mobile gaming apps so as to support and increase consumption of cross-platform gaming franchises. In particular, we sought to analyze mobile gaming models that could drive engagement of cross-platform franchise games through connectivity features. We used market analysis, interface analysis, and small-scale focus testing among student gamers in order to identify the most promising engagement and cross-platform connectivity mechanisms given the current state of the mobile market and Warner Bros.’ own specific franchise and genre priorities. After producing an overview of the market and a general taxonomy of connectivity mechanisms, we examined the functionality of cross-platform interfaces according to three criteria: connectivity, visual/haptic design, and behavioral incentives. Though we expect publishers to continue to experiment with cross-platform franchise design over the next few years, our research suggests that unlockables represent the best mobile-to-console connectivity mechanism for their desirability and simplicity. Once we had concluded our primary research, we then applied our findings to the nascent WBPlay system so as to suggest how our research might inform WBIE’s future strategy with respect to cross-platform apps.

Categories
Edited Book Chapters

“Militarism and Online Games”

Citation:

Huntemann, Nina B. and Matthew Thomas Payne. “Militarism and Online Games.” International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society Volume 3. Eds. James Ivory and Aphra Kerr. Blackwell-Wiley,  2015.

Abstract:

This essay describes the interlinking histories of video games and militarism. It contends that the history of video games is incomplete without an accounting of the role that defense interests play in the technological development and popularization of military-themed games. The piece introduces key concepts and titles worthy of scholarly attention.

Categories
Articles (non-refereed)

“Critical War Play”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. “Critical War Play.” Communication Currents 9.5 (December 2014). Solicited for inclusion.

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“Parody as Brand: The Case of [adult swim]’s Paracasual Advergames”

Citation:

Gurney, David & Matthew Thomas Payne. “Parody as Brand: The Case of [adult swim]’s Paracasual Advergames.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 2014.

Abstract:

Advergames – a neologism for video games designed to advertise a product or service – are marketing devices employed to impact consumers’ purchasing decisions and, more frequently, shape their impressions of a promoted brand. The online advergames of the programming block-turned-media brand [adult swim] present a clear case in which the games act as rich signifiers of brand aesthetics even if they are not directly connected to the content of the brand’s TV shows, live events, and other assorted merchandise. Although these “casual”-style titles have gameplay mechanics that are accessible to broad audiences, these advergames often exhibit a critical stance toward other games, which differentiates them from the vast majority of casual games on the market. But rather than being anti-casual, we argue that these games are best understood as being paracasual because they use parody to both trouble prevailing definitions of casual games and advergames, and deploy an aesthetic disposition that further helps define the brand. Furthermore, they are an increasingly visible and vital component of a constellation of texts and practices that function as what James Paul Gee calls an “affinity space” for a lucrative audience demographic. This article assesses how [adult swim] games use parody to deconstruct textually video gaming’s most popular genres, and how such parodic deconstruction, as evidenced by players’ online discussions, serves as an affinity space for a media-savvy taste culture.

Categories
Media

Zom-Com — an experiment in media praxis

Zom-Com
Zom-Com is a new zombie comedy TV series pilot produced by The University of Alabama’s Dept. of Telecommunication and Film. You can follow its updates on the pilot’s facebook page.

 

Project Description
The University of Alabama Department of Telecommunication and Film presents Zom-Com, a television comedy pilot about a ragtag team of “zombie chasers” who track and study zombie behavior with the goal of finding a cure.

This ambitious project is the collaboration between Professor Adam Schwartz’s “Advanced Television Production” class and Dr. Matt Payne’s “Zombies in Culture” course. Additionally, the project partnered with UA’s “Creative Campus,” an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to bringing creative projects and ideas to life.

Status

The pilot is now on the festival circuit, having recently played at the Sidewalk Film Festival!

 

Zom-Com Teaser Trailer

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“Policing the Sandbox in Grand Theft Auto Online”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. & Fleisch, Michael. “Policing the Sandbox in Grand Theft Auto Online,” Media Fields 8 (2014).

 

Abstract:

From the issue’s introduction: “The first essay in this issue, Matthew Thomas Payne and Michael Fleisch’s “Policing the Sandbox in Grand Theft Auto Online” explores the theme of the playground directly. Considering RockStar’s machinations in Grand Theft Auto Online against players’ attempts to manipulate the economic structure of the game’s open world, Payne and Fleisch highlight the fraught politics of policing a space that on its surface purports to offer players a world in which rules are made to be broken. In this sense, play takes on a para-ludic character as cunning players find ways to manipulate the game’s virtual marketplace while the developer moves to protect a vested interest in the game’s real economic potential, carefully curated micro-transactions.”

Categories
Edited Book Chapters

“Connected Viewing, Connected Capital: Fostering Gameplay Across Screens”

Citation:
Payne, Matthew Thomas. “Connected Viewing, Connected Capital: Fostering Gameplay Across Screens.” Connected Viewing: Selling, Sharing, and Streaming Media in a Digital Era. Edited by Jennifer Holt and Kevin Sanson (New York: Routledge, 2014): 183-201.

From the anthology’s Introduction:
“Matthew Thomas Payne considers how gamers participate in transmedia play as a way to connect with fellow players, and how these extended forms of immersion add interest in franchises and build users’ gaming capital.” (p. 10)

Categories
Other essays

“Key Issues in Digital Ecosystem Design and Implementation”

Citation:

Steirer, Gregory & Payne, Matthew Thomas. “Key Issues in Digital Ecosystem Design and Implementation.” White Paper research report presented to Warner Bros. Digital Distribution as part of the Connected Viewing Initiative sponsored by Warner Bros. and the University of California at Santa Barbara (2014).

Abstract:

Reflective of increased industry convergence, this project examines digital game and video distribution within a comparative frame to highlight how these models can be developed and applied across divisions. In a media distribution landscape awash with diverse models of content delivery, the video game industry has pursued a policy of experimentation and innovation with respect to the digital distribution of their goods and services and has therefore upended earlier approaches to monetization and radically changed consumers’ relationships to games and game-related properties. These models of digital game distribution have important implications for the digital distribution of long-form video, and this project will examine how these models could be adapted to “gamify” video distribution.

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“War Bytes: The Critique of Militainment in Spec Ops: The Line

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. “War Bytes: The Critique of Militainment in Spec Ops: The Line.Critical Studies in Media Communication 31(4) (2014): 265-282.

Abstract:

The vast majority of commercial military-themed video games produced after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks celebrate Americas War on Terror as a grave but necessary and patriotic undertaking. This essay argues that the multi-platform Spec Ops: The Line (2012) runs counter to this tradition in recent military entertainment (or militainment) by engendering a host of gameplay displeasures that critique the interactive attractions of mainstream first- and third-person shooters. In particular, the games brutal mise-en-scène, its intertextual references to popular war media, and its real and imagined opportunities for player choice create a discordant feeling that lays bare the problematic ease with which most video war games indulge in their nationalistic power fantasies. The result is a game that wields its affective distance as a critique of the necessary illusion that all military shooters trade in, but one that so few acknowledge.

Categories
Articles (non-refereed)

“Redesigning Game Industry Studies”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. & Steirer, Gregory. “Redesigning Game Industry Studies.” Creative Industries Journal 7.1 (May 2014): 67-71. Solicited for inclusion.

First Paragraph:
“What exactly is a video game? How do we as gamers experience its liminal bounds? Moreover, how do we as scholars delimit those experiential parameters for the purposes of study? These are, of course, enduring questions for game studies. However, in the coming years, as digital games continue to grow in popularity, we believe that these questions will become increasingly germane to creative industries studies as well. Individual video games, both as discrete cultural texts and as engines of play, will become harder to pin down in response to the dual challenges posed by saturated markets and digital distribution. In other words, as cultural producers create more kinds of games for more kinds of players, defining what a game is with any certainty will require updated research tools and methodologies. In this piece we want to highlight two research areas that will be vital for future media industries scholarship in general, and games studies in particular: distribution and marketing.” (p. 67)

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“Gaming Art”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. and Michael Fleisch. “Gaming Art.” Journal for International Digital Media Arts Association 9.1 (Spring 2013).

 

Abstract:

This article makes the case that the “are video games art?” debate — recently reignited when famed film critic Roger Ebert declared that games can never achieve artistic standing — presents us with instructive insights about how popular commodities attain cultural worth. The true value of this public debate lies in the way that it showcases how the discourse itself functions as a kind of game. Furthermore, the debate highlights the need for recognizing video gaming’s power as an engine for creativity and innovation across the arts.

Categories
Other essays

“Wound Raider: Authorizing Trauma in Lara Croft’s Origin Story”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. & Derek Frank. “Wound Raider: Authorizing Trauma in Lara Croft’s Origin Story.” In Media Res: a Media Commons Project. 13 March 2013.

Categories
Articles (non-refereed)

“Response to Moses Wolfenstein’s ‘Well Suffered’”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. & Campbell, Stephen. “Response to Moses Wolfenstein’s ‘Well Suffered’.” Well Played: A Journal on Video Games, Value, and Meaning 2.1 (2012).

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“Marketing Military Realism in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. “Marketing Military Realism in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,”Games & Culture 7.4 (July 2012): 305-327.

Abstract:

This essay investigates the challenges that video game marketing encounters when selling the pleasures of playing virtual war. While marketing paratexts are crucial to video games because of the vagaries of their industry, they are especially important for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, as it is the first of the franchise to be set in the 21st century and immerse players in contemporary theaters of war. These marketing paratexts not only generate hype for the game and work to drive sales, but as importantly, they also suggest particular textual readings over others with the goal of insulating Call of Duty’s virtual war play from interpretations and criticisms that might link the violent play on-screen to the worldly violence unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Categories
Articles (refereed)

Super Meat Boy: A Love Letter”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew T. & Campbell, Stephen. “Super Meat Boy: A Love Letter.” Well Played: A Journal on Video Games, Value, and Meaning 2.1 (2012).

 

Abstract:

Super Meat Boy (2010) playfully draws on the representational tropes and narrative conventions popularized by classic video game platformers, while simultaneously improving on the core design principles found in this popular genre. In particular, this game invites players of different skill levels to best its tiered challenges, which scale elegantly in difficulty from one level to the next. With its tight controls and its non-punitive punishment system, Super Meat Boy demonstrates that an ostensibly “hardcore” platformer can nevertheless appeal to broader gaming audiences.

Categories
Articles (refereed)

“Stories from the Seats of Power: Chopper versus Chopper as Dueling Travelogues”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew Thomas & Michael Fleisch. “Stories from the Seats of Power: Chopper versus Chopper as Dueling Travelogues.” Well Played: A Journal on Video Games, Value, and Meaning 2.1 (2012).

Abstract:

The “Chopper versus Chopper” multiplayer game mode included in Grand Theft Auto IV’s expansion pack, “The Lost and the Damned” (2009), pits one gamer on a motorcycle against another piloting an assault helicopter in alternating rounds where the pilot must eliminate the biker before the latter scores points by crossing a series of checkpoints. The design of this one-on-one game mode is notable for elegantly distilling a massive and complex synthetic environment into a singularly focused affair between two combatants that fosters competing ways of seeing and understanding their shared space, as well as inciting emergent narratives of narrow escapes and fantastic collisions that draw gamers back round after round.

Categories
Other essays

“Broadband of Brothers: Fostering Gameplay Across Screens”

Citation:
Payne, Matthew Thomas. “Broadband of Brothers: Fostering Gameplay Across Screens.” White Paper presented to Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. Sponsored by Warner Bros. and the University of California at Santa Barbara (2012).

Executive Summary:
This report evaluates the efficacy of second screen applications to incentivize repeated gameplay sessions in online, multiplayer video games. Specifically, this research project analyzes the multiplatform support applications for two best-selling military shooters: “Elite,” for Activision’s Modern Warfare 3, and “Battlelog,” for Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3. During the project’s six-week data gathering phase, fifteen participants kept detailed journals chronicling their hundreds of hours of collective gameplay while using these support apps. The participants also completed numerous questionnaires during that period. The data was later coded and analyzed to assess if “Elite” and “Battlelog” positively affected the participants’ online experiences. The report finds that the second screen applications amplified participants’ engagement with the video games because “Elite” and “Battlelog” gave the participants insider knowledge and strategies for subsequent play sessions.

Categories
Other essays

“Advergaming and Niche Branding”

Gurney, David & Payne, Matthew T. “Advergaming and Niche Branding.” In Media Res: a Media Commons Project. 18 August 2011.

Categories
Edited Book Chapters

“Everything I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from Playing Video Games: The Educational Promise of Machinima”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew Thomas. “Everything I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from Playing Video Games: The Educational Promise of Machinima.” The Machinima Reader. Edited by Henry Lowood and Michael Nitsche. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011: 241-256.

From the anthology’s Introduction:

“Matthew Thomas Payne describes the pedagogical value of machinima, using The Sims as a case study for the development of media literacy through machinima.” (p. x)

Categories
Books

Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence

Citation:

Kackman, Michael, Marnie Binfield, Matthew Thomas Payne, Allison Perlman, and Bryan Sebok (Eds.). Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence. New York: Routledge, 2010.

 

Description:

From viral videos on YouTube to mobile television on smartphones and beyond, TV has overflowed its boundaries. If Raymond Williams’ concept of flow challenges the idea of a discrete television text, then convergence destabilizes the notion of television as a discrete object.

Flow TV examines television in an age of technological, economic, and cultural convergence. Seeking to frame a new set of concerns for television studies in the 21st century, this collection of all new essays establishes television’s continued importance in a shifting media culture. Considering television and new media not as solely technical devices, but also as social technologies, the essays in this anthology insist that we turn our attention to the social, political, and cultural practices that surround and inform those devices’ use. The contributors examine television through a range of critical approaches from formal and industrial analysis to critical technology studies, reception studies, political economy, and critiques of television’s transnational flows. This volume grows out of the critical community formed around the popular online journal Flow: A Critical Form on Television and Media Culture (flowtv.org). It is ideal for courses in television studies or media convergence.

Categories
Edited Book Chapters

“F*ck You, Noob Tube!: Learning the Art of Ludic LAN War”

Citation:
Payne, Matthew Thomas. “F*ck You, Noob Tube!: Learning the Art of Ludic LAN War.” Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games. Edited by Nina B. Huntemann and Matthew T. Payne (New York: Routledge, 2009): 206-222.

From the anthology’s Introduction:
“In the second chapter on players, Matthew Payne reports on his participant observations of a gaming center to explore the social codes and conventions present in a commercial play space. Payne’s ethnography finds that the dynamic gaming environment is shaped as much by the war-oriented texts as it is by the devoted players who frequent the gaming center.The “ludic war” experience that Payne details highlights how militarism and gaming technologies influence play behavior that dominates a semi-public, shared play space.” (p. 15)

Categories
Books

Joystick soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games

Citation:

Huntemann, Nina B., and Matthew Thomas Payne (Eds.). Joystick soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games. New York: Routledge, 2009.

 

Description:

Joystick Soldiers is the first anthology to examine the reciprocal relationship between militarism and video games. War has been an integral theme of the games industry since the invention of the first video game, Spacewar! in 1962.While war video games began as entertainment, military organizations soon saw their potential as combat simulation and recruitment tools. A profitable and popular relationship was established between the video game industry and the military, and continues today with video game franchises like America’s Army, which was developed by the U.S.Army as a public relations and recruitment tool.

This collection features all new essays that explore how modern warfare has been represented in and influenced by video games. The contributors explore the history and political economy of video games and the “military-entertainment complex;” present textual analyses of military-themed video games such as Metal Gear Solid; and offer reception studies of gamers, fandom, and political activism within online gaming.

Categories
Media

Director of Photography Demo Reel (2001-2003)

Categories
Edited Book Chapters

“Interpreting Gameplay through Existential Ludology”

Citation:
Payne, Matthew Thomas. “Interpreting Gameplay through Existential Ludology.” Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. Edited by Richard E. Ferdig (Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2009): 621-635.

Abstract:
This chapter introduces and operationalizes an innovative interpretive strategy called “existential ludology” to explain how the game-play mechanics of two tactical shooter video gamesAmerica’s Army: Rise of a Soldier (Microsoft’s Xbox) and Full Spectrum Warrior (Sony’s PlayStation 2)educate gamers on how to play militarily. These titles, both produced in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, engender strict, doctrinal learning opportunities by embedding official combat protocols into their game-play structures. By employing existential ludology as an interpretive tool we can understand these military-backed games from an experiential, player-centric perspective, while also recognizing how their seemingly innocuous game-play is located within, and linked to, larger networks of power. Moreover, existential ludology’s flexibility as an interpretive instrument encourages educators to recognize the educational affordances of popular video games so that they might adopt these popular media artifacts for their own pedagogical ends.