Articles (refereed)

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


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.


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.


Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence


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.



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 ( It is ideal for courses in television studies or media convergence.