Watching Us Play: Postures and Platforms of Live Streaming

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Austin Walker


In this article, Austin Walker discusses streaming, the practice of broadcasting the gameplay footage. Providing a brief analysis of the range of streaming practices, Walker argues that streaming represents a sea change in how players share and collaborate, adding new sorts of social interactivity to an experience that was, for so long, solitary. Live streaming’s novelty grants it special status as a practice still in formation, making it especially useful in analyzing how late capitalism identifies and appropriates fresh cultural activity--doing so in this case through the development of an infrastructure that supports and encourages voluntary self-surveillance. While there are resistive elements of live-streaming, such as allowing new voices access to broadcast capabilities, streaming also represents socialized labour. Walker separates streaming into two stances: the active streaming posture, where streamers voluntarily choose to broadcast their play, and the passive streaming posture, where streaming is automatically incorporated into the hardware and/or software of the gaming platform and players are unable to opt in or out.

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