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
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
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
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 (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
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
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.

Categories
Edited Book Chapters

“Manufacturing Militainment: Video Game Producers and Military Brand Games”

Citation:

Payne, Matthew Thomas. “Manufacturing Militainment: Video Game Producers and Military Brand Games.” War Isn’t Hell, It’s Entertainment: Essays on Visual Media and Representation of Conflict. Edited by Rikke Schubart, Fabian Virchow, Debra White-Stanley & Tanja Thomas. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009: 238-255.

From the anthology’s Introduction:

“We should ask ourselves what the military is thinking when producing video games as instruments of public relations, recruitment, and training. This is exactly what Matthew Thomas Payne does in his essay based on interviews with the head producers of America’s Army (2002), America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier (2005), and Full Spectrum Warrior (2004). These producers become new media cultural brokers whose visions of war and opinions about representation and realism are immensely important in shaping the games that entertain millions of users globally.” (p. 8)