“Livestreaming, participatory culture, and gender politics at the edge of e-sports” presented by Witkowski

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Games: Playing Live(?) - Livestreaming in theory and practice: Four provocations on labour, liveness and participatory culture in games livestreaming

Presentation Title:

  • Livestreaming, participatory culture, and gender politics at the edge of e-sports

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Abstract:

  • This paper considers the practices of young women who live stream their high performance play on the North American game broadcasting platform Twitch.tv. These players represent cultural producers, e-sports fans, championship game winners, and regular competitive players broadcasting their play. Key themes produced in this research surround issues of networked access and participation, gender politics, and performance in mainstream e-sports, which are discussed from qualitative research with seven players who broadcast regularly in 2013 – 2015. During this time their viewership numbers ranged from under 50 to over six thousand per session, and they broadcast with a variety of motivations, incentives and awareness of their practice and mainstream e-sports in mind. In turning to Twitch broadcasting, as an alternative path towards involvement in mainstream e-sports, the productive labour of the participants is deeply engaged with DIY aesthetics and participatory culture. Through these performances, interconnected realizations and concerns around women and e-sports are voiced by the women who negotiate this new outlet of media sports culture everyday. In situating the everyday experiences of women who play at the high performance level of computer game play, alternatives to mainstream e-sports are revealed through dynamic human-non human relationships, which alter traditional forms of participation and remuneration in this new media sports ecology. Such practices go beyond revealing the changing relationships of female players as resourceful player-producers; through a lens of participatory culture, they also highlight the ongoing inequities for women within high performance game spaces and online gaming cultures.


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