Back to Calendar

Johanna Brewer: Inclusive Streamers: Live Broadcasting Safe Spaces


Gaming is a historically toxic environment for women, people of color, disabled and LGBTQ+ folks. But on the world’s largest live streaming platform, Twitch, minority streamers and their allies are creating safe spaces for their communities and keeping the trolls at bay. The proliferation of these groups, which have managed to effectively moderate their communities and monetize their gameplay, while maintaining the values of integrity and inclusivity that are at the core of their identities, represents an intriguing new cultural phenomenon which has not yet been examined in detail.
In this talk I will present findings from an ongoing ethnographic study seeking to understand the origin, and influence, of the growing inclusivity movement on Twitch. First, I’ll introduce the different ways in which inclusive communities form around marginalized streamers. Secondly, I’ll detail the shared values and standards of behavior that these communities are developing. Finally, I’ll explore how the affective labor of stream communities is transforming the aesthetic language, economic values, and governmental structure of the service. By critically analyzing the emergence of the inclusive Twitch community, the goal of this talk will be to shed light on, and draw inspiration from, the powerful, co-creative, role this labor force plays on the platform that supports it.

Speaker Bio

Johanna Brewer is the co-founder of Neta Snook, a research & design studio that creates new media and technologies to promote a diverse society. As a designer, developer, ethnographer and entrepreneur, Johanna’s work focuses on building inclusive media platforms, studying marginalized communities, and creatively dismantling surveillance capitalism. Before founding Neta Snook, Johanna led a series of startups including frestyl, a live music discovery platform, as well as Rhomby, a private presence-awareness system for smart homes. Johanna received a PhD in Information & Computer Science from UC Irvine for work on the aesthetics of urban mobility and has previously held design research positions at WBUR, Intel, Swiss National Supercomputer, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University.