Using rhetorical criticism to track Twitch Plays Pokémon fans' attachment to sacrifice


  • Eric Andrew James Northwestern University



Fan art, Neoreligiosity, Participatory media, Rhetoric


This expansion of the existing literature on fan discourse analyzes rhetorical form as a tool and constraint. By analyzing the rhetorical forms used to develop the cult neoreligious styles of Twitch Plays Pokémon fan art, I track the evolution of sacrifice as a guiding trope that allows the community to narrativize accidents, make sense of chaos, and respond to the game's overall lack of player agency. Rhetorical forms are reproduced in fan discourse alongside popular community art styles, genres, and rules for speaking. Rhetorical forms are thus both effects of fan discourse and factors in later evolutions for that discourse. Rhetorical criticism will become increasingly more important in the study of sense-making practices in collective participatory media such as Twitch Plays Pokémon.


Additional Files