Understanding Memetic Media and Collective Identity Through Streamer Persona on Twitch.tv
Keywords:livestreaming, persona, mimetic media, collective identity, performance, video games
Video game livestreamers on the leading platform Twitch.tv present a carefully curated version of themselves - negotiated in part via interactions with their viewers - resulting in collectively performed personas centred around individual streamers. These collective personas emerge from a combination of live performance, platform features including streamer-specific emoticons and audiovisual overlays, the games that streamers play, and how they play them. In this paper, I interrogate how these elements culminate in a feedback loop between individual streamers and non-streamer participants, specifically how platform features mediate and facilitate interactions between users. I also examine streaming persona as both a product and expression of this dynamic and the subsequent emergence of streamer-based social arrangement and collective value systems. I do this with particular attention to how memes operate uniquely within the livestreaming mode.
Among Us 2018, video game, Innersloth.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons 2020, video game, Nintendo.
Ask, K & Abidin, C 2018, ‘My life is a mess: self-deprecating relatability and collective identities in the memification of student issues’, Information, Communication & Society, vol.21, no.6, pp.834–850.
Ask, K, Spilker, HS & Hansen, M 2019, ‘The politics of user-platform relationships: Co-scripting live-streaming on Twitch.tv’, First Monday, vol.24, no.7.
Bee Movie 2007, film, Paramount Pictures.
Bingham, CM 2020, ‘Talking about Twitch: Dropped Frames and a normative theory of new media production’, Convergence, vol.26, no.2, pp.269-286.
Cai, J & Wohn, DY 2019, ‘What are Effective Strategies of Handling Harassment on Twitch? Users’ Perspectives’, in Conference Companion Publication of the 2019 on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, pp.166-170.
Chen, C & Lin, Y 2018, ‘What drives live-stream usage intention? The perspectives of flow, entertainment, social interaction, and endorsement’, Telematics and Informatics, vol.35, no.1, pp.293-303.
Chess, S 2017, Ready Player Two: Women gamers and designed identity, University of Minnesota Press.
Consalvo, M 2017, ‘When paratexts becomes texts: de-centering the game-as-text’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol.24, no.2, pp.177-183.
—2018, ‘Kaceytron and transgressive play on Twitch.tv’, in K Jørgensen & F Karlsen (eds), Transgressions in Games and Play, MIT Press, pp.83-98.
Dawkins, R 2006, The Selfish Gene: with a new Introduction by the Author, Oxford University Press.
Dream Daddy 2017, video game, Game Grumps.
Ford, C, Gardner, D, Horgan, LE, Liu, C, tsaasan, a.m., Nardi, B & Rickman, J 2017 ‘Chat Speed OP PogChamp: Practice of Coherence in Massive Twitch Chat’, in Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI, Denver, USA, pp.858-871.
Gal, N, Shifman, L & Kampf, Z 2016, ‘“It gets better”: Internet memes and the construction of collective identity’, New Media & Society, vol.18, no.8, pp.1698-1714.
Glitsos, L & Hall, J 2019, ‘The Pepe the Frog meme: an examination of social, political, and cultural implication through the tradition of the Darwinian Absurd’, Journal for Cultural Research, vol.23, no.4, pp.381-395.
Goffman, E 1956, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Harmondsworth London.
Gray, KL 2014, Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live: Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margins, Anderson Publishing.
—2017, ‘“They’re just too urban”: Black gamers streaming on Twitch”, in J Daniels, K Gregory & T.M. Cottom (eds), Digital Sociologies, pp.355-368.
Hamilton, WA, Garretson, O, & Kerne, A 2014, ‘Streaming on Twitch: Fostering Participatory Communities of Play within Live Mixed Media’, in Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM, ON, Canada, pp.1315-1324.
Hercules 1997, film, Disney.
Hilvert-Bruce, Z, Neill, JT, Sȷ̈oblom, M & Hamari, J 2018, ‘Social motivations of live-streaming viewer engagement on Twitch’, Computers in Human Behaviour, vol.84, pp.58-67.
Johnson, MR & Woodcock, J 2019, ‘“It’s like the gold rush”: the lives and careers of professional video game streamers on Twitch.tv’, Information, Communication & Society, vol.22, no.3, pp.336-351.
Jung, CG 1928, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, Routledge.
Kingdom Hearts 3 2019, video game, Square Enix.
Literat, I & van den Berg, S 2019, ‘Buy memes low, sell memes high: Vernacular criticism and collective negotiations of value on Reddit’s Memeeconomy’, Information, Communication & Society, vol.22, no.2, pp.232-249.
Marshall, PD 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: Celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, vol.1, no.1, pp.35-48.
Marshall, PD, Moore, C & Barbour, K 2020, Persona Studies: An Introduction, John Wiley & Sons.
Marwick, AE 2013, Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, Yale University Press.
Milner, RM 2016, The World Made Meme: Public Conversations and Participatory Media, MIT Press.
Moore, C, Barbour, K, & Lee, K 2017, ‘Five dimensions of online persona’, Persona Studies, vol.3, no.1, pp.1-11.
My Neighbor Totoro 1988, film, Studio Ghibli.
Nissenbaum, A & Shifman, L 2017, ‘Internet memes as contested cultural capital: The case of 4chan’s /b/ board’, New Media & Society, vol.19, no.4, pp.483-501.
Partin, WC 2019, ‘Watch Me Pay: Twitch and the Cultural Economy of Surveillance’, Surveillance & Society, vol.17, no.1/2, pp.153-160.
Phillips, W & Milner, RM 2018, The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online, John Wiley & Sons.
Pokémon Red Version 1998, video game, Game Freak.
Scully-Blaker, R, Begy, J, Consalvo, M & Ganzon, S 2017, ‘Playing along and playing for on Twitch: Livestreaming from tandem play to performance’, in Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, AIS, Hawaii, USA, pp.2026-2035.
Seering, J, Kraut, R & Dabbish, L 2017, ‘Shaping Pro and Anti-Social Behavior on Twitch Through Moderation and Example-Setting’, in Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, ACM, Portland, USA, pp.2026-2035.
Senft, T 2008, Camgirls: Celebrity & Community in the Age of Social Networks, Peter Lang.
Shifman, L 2012, ‘An anatomy of a YouTube meme’, New Media & Society, vol.14, no.2, pp.187-203.
—2013, ‘Memes in a digital world: Reconciling with a conceptual troublemaker’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.18, no.3, pp.362-377.
—2014, MIT Press Essential Knowledge: Memes in Digital Culture, MIT Press.
—2019, ‘Internet Memes and the Twofold Articulation of Values’, in M Graham & W.H. Dutton (eds), Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives, pp.43-57.
Sȷ̈oblom, M & Hamari, J 2017, ‘Why do people watch others play video games? An empirical study on the motivations of Twitch users’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol.75, pp.985-996.
Sȷ̈oblom, M, Törhönen, M, Hamari, & Macey, J 2017, ‘Content structure is king: An empirical study on gratifications, game genres and content type on Twitch’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol.73, pp.161-171. —2019, ‘The ingredients of Twitch streaming: Affordances of game streams’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol.92, pp.20-28.
South Park: The Stick of Truth 2014, video game, Ubisoft.
Spitzberg, BH 2014, ‘Toward a model of meme diffusion (m3d)’, Communication Theory, vol.24, no.3, pp.311-339.
Stardew Valley 2016, video game, Chucklefish.
Tannen, D 2007, Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse, Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, TL 2018, Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming, Princeton University Press.
Toelken, B 1996, Dynamics of Folklore, University Press of Colorado.
Wiggins, BE & Bowers, GB 2015, ‘Memes as genre: A structurational analysis of the memescape’, New Media & Society, vol.17, no.11, pp.1886-1906.
Woodcock, J & Johnson, MR 2019, ‘The Affective Labor and Performance of Live Streaming on Twitch.tv’, Television & New Media, vol.20, no.8, pp.813-823.