Game Streaming Revisited: Some Observations on Marginal Practices and Contexts


The focus of this paper is on the spectating phenomenon of live streaming gameplay, which has been described as “marginal.” After reviewing important non-gaming factors capable of bringing game streaming from the analytical margins to the center, we discuss the larger context in which game streaming is embedded, plus its implications. Data were gathered via in-depth interviews with game stream viewers, analyses of game streaming-related forum posts, and an online survey. According to our observations, game streaming should not be viewed as only a game-related phenomenon or extended gameplay practice, but also as a type of cross-media entertainment involving multiple media consumption characteristics—a form of stage performance, a space for social interaction, and as entertainment similar to hosted variety shows and reality television. Consumers tend to move among multiple streaming activities serving assorted media functions in search of entertainment, with their identities changing according to personal time restrictions and social situations.