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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.