Hybrid event with Christine H. Tran on "Homewrecker Platforms: Games, Gender & the Media Housework of Live Streaming."
Hybrid Event with in-person and zoom webinar options:
Christine H. Tran on "Homewrecker Platforms: Games, Gender & the Media Housework of Live Streaming."
Do gamers build houses worth living and playing inside? Replaying Tran's ethnographic work with gendered and BIPOC professional game streamers on Twitch.tv, this talk offers an overview of the “home studio” as a multi-sided site of gendered and racialized struggle for cultural worker autonomy in the platformization of cultural production—a struggle that is both local and transnational in scale. (for full event description see below)
Christine H. Tran (they/she) is a multimedia artist, digital consultant, and PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information Their SSHRC-funded dissertation explores the interplay of gender, race, and domestic labour in the careers of women and racialized live streamers. Christine has been appointed to Graduate Fellowships at the Centre for Culture & Technology (2022-23) and Massey College (2019--) and was a Research Assistant on the SSHRC-funded project Cultural Workers Organize. Their writing on Internet culture, digital labour, and liveness in ludic media has been published in peer reviewed journals such as Television & New Media, Communication, Culture & Critique and New Media & Society.
This event is part of the 5th Season of the Feminist and Accessible Publishing and Communications Technologies Speaker and Workshop Series, organized by Dr. Alex Ketchum.
Our series was made possible thanks to our sponsors: SSHRC, the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF), the DIGS Lab, Milieux, Initiative for Indigenous Futures, MILA, Dean of Arts Grant, ReQEF, and more (see our website!)
There is no fee required to attend this event. We will provide professional captions in english.
Full event description:
"Do gamers build houses worth living and playing inside? Replaying my ethnographic work with gendered and BIPOC professional game streamers on Twitch.tv, this talk offers an overview of the “home studio” as a multi-sided site of gendered and racialized struggle for cultural worker autonomy in the platformization of cultural production—a struggle that is both local and transnational in scale.
From greenscreens in the bedroom to webcams in the bathtub, domestic surfaces underlie the professional broadcast of personality on Twitch.tv, Amazon’s $15 billion platform for live video entertainment. Yet for the BIPOC and gendered professional game streamers, household visibility is fraught. Toxic gamer cultures alter the experience of “being seen” on Twitch into precursors for harassment, stalking, doxing and chatbox raids that layer additional emotional labour in professional play. Amidst a swell of ethnographic interest in the livestreamed enculturation of games (Johnson and Woodcock, 2019; Taylor 2018), it has become urgent to understand the domesticating legacies of race and gender which everyday livestreaming has come to inherit from gaming cultures. And as the infamous practice of “Zoom bombing” demonstrated (Jacob and Tran, 2023; Tran, 2021), it has also become urgent to understand how patterns of harassment and stalking in game streaming cultures have spread to nongaming video spaces (Gray 2014; Ruberg and Cullen, 2020) and overlapping household economies.
To address the interlocking legacies of digital and domestic work, I offer re-evaluations and redefinitions of “media housework” as a genre of symbolic creation and lens through which to re-understand the ascent of live video cultures, in and beyond games. As the infamous blog confessions of “EA Spouse” and “Rockstar Spouse” AAA studio “crunch” have revealed, the precarious glamour of careers in games have been historically sustained by networks of feminised work and social reproduction--work that sustains at the home and sites beyond the AAA studios. Spouses have played a vital role as public narrators of experience and exploitation across the games industry (Bulut, 2020; Dyer Witheford and de Peuter, 2006; Pettica-Haris et al., 2015). Well before the ascent of Twitch, the domestic and home studio space that been proved vital in the widespread of computational gaming cultures (Harvey, 2015; Nooney, 2012). Within these histories, the game industry’s reliance on unpaid familial work done at home speaks to upon recent studies of domestication’s prevalence to the immaterial labour of content production as a form of “digital housekeeping” (Li 2022; Kennedy et al., 2015).
Decades after American scholar Louise Kapp Howe (1977) coined “pink collar” to describe the traditional assignment of cleaning, cooking, and care as women’s work, legacies of “gendered work” still contort our valuations of labour. Terms like “invisible labour” have become salient bywords for the historically unpaid, devalued status of labour categorized as “women’s work” in the digital age (Jarrett 2015; Terranova 2000), which has troubling effects on populations most historically excluded from professional leisure. Concerns from the 2010s that social media would constitute the “pink ghetto of tech” (Levinson, 2015) illustrate the vulnerability of platform self-promotion to these regimes of casualization through coding certain work as feminine (Duffy and Schwartz, 2018). Here, the ascent Twitch.tv and its intermediation of content creator networks offer a vibrant case study on why histories of social reproduction and feminist game studies are integral to deepening our understanding of platform work, in and beyond the home. "