“Anti-gatekeeping” on the Twitch platform

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2022)
Title: “Anti-gatekeeping” on the Twitch platform
Stream: Digital Humanities
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Kevin Garvey, Rikkyo University, Japan


The live streaming platform Twitch hosts thousands of streamers vying for the attention of users. Previous studies have identified the salience of parasocial relationships and emotional labor for understanding the work of streamers (Johnson & Woodcock, 2019) as well as the presence of toxic geek masculinity (Ruberg, et. al. 2019) and gendered differences in streaming labor (Jenson & de Castell, 2018). Twitch has grown steadily since its start in 2011 (Taylor, 2018) and saw a massive increase in growth in 2020, maintaining its position as the number one game streaming site, ahead of YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming (Partis, 2021). Discrimination related to notions of a "true gamer" - a white, cisgendered, heterosexual male - is well-documented (Ruberg, et. al. 2019; Uszkoreit, 2018). Interviews with streamers who do not fit into the narrow definition of the imagined “true gamer” reveal strategies and networks that have successfully leveraged Twitch’s tools for discoverability and moderation in order to redefine gaming spaces as inclusive and explicitly ‘anti-gatekeeping’. These strategies are worth exploring as more of daily life is transferred to online spaces, and pro-social approaches are necessary for creating safe online communities. This study examines how platform tools for discoverability and moderation influence streamers’ presentations of themselves as game players. Findings suggest that active ‘anti-gate-keeping’ is widespread among streamers who wish to build inclusive, sustainable channels in which to play, socialize, and earn.

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