The Lives and Careers of Professional Live Streamers
Thursday October 8, 2020
This talk examines the careers and backgrounds of professional “live streamers” broadcasting on leading platform Twitch.tv. I begin by outlining the rapid growth of this site to the point where millions of individuals are broadcasting to well over one hundred million viewers on a regular basis. Drawing on five years of interview and ethnographic data, I focus on examining the pasts, presents and (predicted or considered) futures of live streamers. How did these individuals (often lacking any professional media training) find their way in to being professional streamers, what does the everyday labour of streaming entail, and what do they expect will embody the future of their chosen career? Throughout these elements I consider the associated entanglements – digital game culture, online celebrity, platform infrastructure and governance – which shape this new media form, and show how live streaming is increasingly influencing both amateur, and professional, content production.
Mark R. Johnson is a Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on live streaming and Twitch.tv, esports, game consumption and production, and gamification and gamblification. He has published in journals including ‘Information, Communication and Society’, ‘New Media and Society’, ‘The Sociological Review’, ‘Convergence’, ‘Games and Culture’, and the ‘Journal of Virtual Worlds Research’. Outside academia he is also an independent game designer, a regular games blogger and podcaster, a freelance writer for numerous gaming publications, and a former professional poker player.