Date of this Version
Williamson, Cadyn Alexander. 2021. "Twitch.tv and its LGBTQIA+ Tag: A Digital Ethnography Investigating How LGBTQIA+-affirming Video Game Streamers and Viewers Interact and Build LGBTQIA+ Spaces Online." Masters thesis, Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
LGBT people use online communities to find information and people with shared experiences. Many also find communities within video game culture. However, there is some tension between LGBT people and “true gamers” who are typically white cisgender heterosexual men. For those who do not fit the “true gamer” label, studies have found high levels of online harassment. This study investigates how LGBT people use Twitch.tv, a livestreaming video game website. Built on previous research of LGBT people, online communities, and video game culture, I answer the question: How, and to what extent, do interactions between streamers and viewers using the LGBTQIA+ tag on Twitch contribute to building and maintaining the streamer’s community of viewers? I conducted a virtual ethnographic study from a symbolic interactionist perspective, observing over 14 hours of Twitch streams with the LGBTQIA+ tag, and conducting 11 semi-structured interviews with streamers who use the tag. This study offers three contributions to the sociology of media and LGBTQ studies. First, the LGBTQIA+ tag acts as a mediator for streamer-viewer interactions because of its meaning related to LGBT identity and indication of an LGBT-affirming space. Second, these spaces are maintained through boundaries set by the streamers which enforce insider and outsider roles that are inversed compared to the “true gamer” stereotype in video game culture overall. Third, the interactions within these streams align with previous research on networked broadcasts, but also add conversations on LGBT issues, pop culture, and experiences as part of the stream.
Advisor: Kelsy Burke