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The livestreaming platform Twitch allows users to engage with one another and with content creators, known as streamers, in real-time, creating a cyclical pattern in which viewers and streamers simultaneously influence one another and co-construct the livestreams. While this active

The livestreaming platform Twitch allows users to engage with one another and with content creators, known as streamers, in real-time, creating a cyclical pattern in which viewers and streamers simultaneously influence one another and co-construct the livestreams. While this active engagement has resulted in numerous benefits, it has also led to a surge in toxic behavior – actions meant to disrupt the flow of the livestream and harm the streamer and viewers involved. Toxic behavior is often directed at individuals who do not conform to the norms of a space or community. Because Twitch evolved out of an interest in video game spectatorship, and video game culture is burdened by the gamer stereotype, which typecasts gamers as young, white, male, and cishet, Twitch users who do not fit this identity category (e.g., women; black, Indigenous and people of color [BIPOC]; queer people; etc.) are labeled as threats to the perceived homogeneity of video game (and Twitch) culture. This project examines toxic discourses surrounding three women Twitch streamers, considering how the streamers’ performances, community-building efforts, and methods of regulation impact the levels and types of toxicity in their livestreams. A critical technocultural discourse analysis of 30 hours of livestreaming data reveals diverse approaches to managing toxicity. While all three streamers expressed that they neither liked nor approved of toxic behavior, their methods of addressing it varied greatly, from active channel moderators and explicit rules to public acts of moderation. Furthermore, the manifestation of toxicity differed across the three streamers’ communities, signaling that the streamers’ strategies impact not only users’ willingness to engage in this behavior but also other viewers’ responses to this issue. Twitch’s positioning as a service provider, which places most of burden of regulating user behavior on streamers, further complicates this problem, as streamers are largely responsible for enforcing Twitch’s rules as well as their own, leading to disparate and conflicting social norms and enforcement patterns. This project underscores the need for Twitch and its streamers to create standardized methods of behavior regulation that are inclusive and hold users accountable for their behavior.
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    Title
    • Conceptualizing Toxicity in Women Twitch Streamers' Communities
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    Date Created
    2021
    Resource Type
  • Text
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    • Partial requirement for: Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2021
    • Field of study: English

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