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Inclusive Streamers: Live Broadcasting Safe Spaces


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Talk given on May 18, 2019 during the Media in Transition conference at MIT.

Gaming is a historically toxic environment for women, people of color, disabled and LGBTQ+ folks. But on the world’s largest live streaming platform, Twitch, minority streamers and their allies are creating safe spaces for their communities and keeping the trolls at bay. The proliferation of these groups, which have managed to effectively moderate their communities and monetize their gameplay, while maintaining the values of integrity and inclusivity that are at the core of their identities, represents an intriguing new cultural phenomenon which has not yet been examined in detail.

In this talk I will present findings from an ongoing ethnographic study seeking to understand the origin, and influence, of the growing inclusivity movement on Twitch. First, I’ll introduce the different ways in which inclusive communities form around marginalized streamers. Secondly, I’ll detail the shared values and standards of behavior that these communities are developing. Finally, I’ll explore how the affective labor of stream communities is transforming the aesthetic language, economic values, and governmental structure of the service. By critically analyzing the emergence of the inclusive Twitch community, the goal of this talk will be to shed light on, and draw inspiration from, the powerful, co-creative, role this labor force plays on the platform that supports it.

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Inclusive Streamers: Live Broadcasting Safe Spaces

  1. 1. Inclusive Streamers Live Broadcasting Safe Spaces Johanna Brewer, PhD co-founder, Research & Design Studio
  2. 2. Land acknowledgement
  3. 3. Game culture & the toxic web
  4. 4. More than a troll factory?
  5. 5. The search begins
  6. 6. What's Twitch? The world’s largest live streaming platform
  7. 7. Producers of play 2.2 million streamers watched by 150 million viewers each month
  8. 8. Behind the stream
  9. 9. Seeking inclusivity
  10. 10. Immersive observation Watched 1,000+ hours live Captured 100s of screenshots
  11. 11. Speedrunning
  12. 12. “What speedrunning on Twitch does, and what watching these types of events live does, is it humanizes inhuman abilities.” –Jared Rae (former Twitch community manager)
  13. 13. Methodological approach Direct recruiting from observational cohort Semi-structured interviews (~2 hours) Video chats conducted on Discord, recorded with OBS Snowball sampling to find more participants
  14. 14. Casual gamers
  15. 15. Musicians & artists
  16. 16. Cosplayers & crafters
  17. 17. Decentralized movement
  18. 18. What values do inclusive communities share?
  19. 19. 1. Be genuine & honest
  20. 20. “People here want genuine connection. That's why we're all on Twitch. If we didn’t, we'd be watching YouTube.”
  21. 21. 2. Lead by example
  22. 22. "I can't enforce respect. I can't enforce conduct. If you try, that's gonna fail. But… I try to encourage people and lead by example rather than decree."
  23. 23. 3. Collaborate before competing
  24. 24. “The way a community speedruns a game is not to see who can have the fastest time, but to see how fast the game can go. Speedrunning is a communal effort.”
  25. 25. 4. Create & share knowledge
  26. 26. “I’m having the most fun when I’m learning from the chat about something. And for some people, the most impressive thing about my stream is that I can explain abstract queerness versus sexuality and gender queerness while playing a really hard Mario level.”
  27. 27. 5. Pass the privilege
  28. 28. "I think it's important to spread the love and share viewers with people. I look for people who are on the cusp of having above-average viewership to host so they can be closer to hitting their goals.”
  29. 29. How can we uphold & amplify these values?
  30. 30. @deadroxy Questions?