An Ethnography of Twitch Streamers: Negotiating Professionalism in New Media Content Creation
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Twitch is an online video distribution platform that allows individuals to broadcast live video of themselves playing video games, and includes features that allow viewers to financially support their favorite Twitch streamers. Therefore, the entrepreneurial Twitch streamer has become a new type of media professional. This dissertation works from the perspective that money is a form of communication, and that professional Twitch streamers can read money’s movement within this social setting. Therefore, the relationship that streamers experience with their income is explored in order to map the ways that streamers develop conceptualizations of what professionalism means within Twitch content creation. First, critical discourse analysis is used to document the ways that streamers’ channel pages articulate what is “for sale” on Twitch. This analysis demonstrates that the main commodity that streamers sell is increased ability to participate in a channel’s community. Second, the Twitch-based talk show Dropped Frames is analyzed using critical discourse analysis to document the ways that streamers experience and make sense of the precarity (job insecurity) present in their industry. Third, interviews with streamers were conducted to provide a description of the industry from an insider’s perspective. Interview data indicated that the central function of a streamer’s job is not the creation of video content, but instead the leadership offered to a community of viewers. Finally, a semiotic analysis of the space of TwitchCon, a trade show for the streaming community, is presented to show how professionalism and play are commodified. Ultimately, this dissertation presents an ethnography of Twitch streamers: an exploration of the interdependent webs of meaning, and constituent contexts, from which they perform their job, highlighting the nature and nuance of neoliberal subject positions.
- OU - Dissertations