"Imagine a place:" Power and intimacy in fandoms on Discord







With over 300 million users, the voice, video, and text chat application Discord has been steadily emerging as a dominant site of fan communities and practices. As the platform continues to grow and to court audiences beyond the site's gaming origins, fans have flocked to the site. To critically consider how fandom has developed on Discord, we analyze how power structures and intimacies between and across fandoms are constructed across three levels on the platform. At the smallest scale, rules, roles, and fan practices within individual Discord servers afford the explicit hierarchization of fans and the regulation of fan discourses. Next, Discord's subscription services encourage economic and cultural competition across and between servers of the same fan text. Finally, fan practices and discourses stretch across the entire Discord platform, connecting seemingly disparate fandoms through a variety of fan activities. By examining how fan practices and the platform's affordances constitute power structures and intimacies across these three levels, we provide a primer on the affordances and critical sites of inquiry on the ever-expanding Discord platform.

Author Biographies

David Kocik, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

David Kocik is a PhD dissertator in the Media, Cinema and Digital Studies plan in the English Department at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, where he is the Managing Director for Serious Play, a graduate student research group interested in games and game cultures. His academic work focuses on the political, economic, and social intersections of video game production, sexuality, and fan labor. He holds a BA in English Education from University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and an MA in Media Studies from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

PS Berge, University of Central Florida

PS Berge (they/she) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Central Florida. Her research falls at the intersection of queer and trans game studies (especially tabletop roleplaying games, gaming fandoms, and power fantasies) and toxic technocultures (including cross-platform dynamics and white supremacist recruitment). Their work has appeared in Game Studies, New Media & Society, and elsewhere. Website: http://psberge.com/

Celeste Oon, University of Southern California

Celeste Oon is a Master’s student in the Cinema and Media Studies program at the University of Southern California. She studies celebrity/fan relations and internet culture.