Players, production and power: Labor and identity in live streaming video games


  • Irissa Cisternino Stony Brook University



Fan production, Gaming, Inequality, Intersectionality


Thousands flock to sites like Twitch or YouTube to create new, transformative media by playing video games. Streaming is a massive, monetized industry and practice, with a spectrum of streamers: hobbyists, full-time creators, and celebrities. I orient streaming as a type of fannish production, both commercial and noncommercial, that allows gamers to create new media products and make money doing so. Broadening understandings of fannish labor to include streaming provides new opportunities for insight that benefit the field. I review current trends in streaming research, discussing potential new research directions beneficial to cross-disciplinary fan studies. I focus on studies that foreground power and inequality (rarer, to date), arguing that intersectional research, methodological diversity, and increased attention to power hierarchies is imperative. Focusing on the relationship between power and streamers' lived experiences complements existing attention to power in fan cultures.