Dr. Mark R Johnson (University of Alberta) on the rise of the broadcasting and spectating of digital play.
Ever since the earliest days of video games, many people have chosen to watch others playing these interactive technologies instead (or as well as) playing them themselves.
Although this began with just looking over the shoulder of one's friend in the arcade, nowadays over two million individuals from around the world regularly broadcast themselves playing video games over the internet, to viewing audiences of over 100 million. Several thousand individuals are able to make a full-time income, potentially in the six-figures, by monetising their broadcasts. Equally, the rise in the last decade of "E-sports" - professionalised competitive video game play - has also highlighted this desire to watch others playing.
Drawing on interview and ethnographic research, this talk will explore the interwoven phenomena of live streaming and E-sports, and focus on three elements:
- Who is broadcasting/playing, and who is watching?
- What are the lives of these highly-visible video game players like?
- What do the futures of these two domains look like in the next five-to-ten years?
This talk will seek to explore these major changes in the sociotechnical entanglements of the video game industry and video game consumption - significantly larger than the film and music industries combined - and to begin to think about why precisely people would sometimes rather watch others playing video games, instead of simply playing them themselves.
Mark R Johnson is a Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta in Canada. His work focuses on the intersections between play and money, such as professionalised video game competition (E-sports), the live broadcast and spectating of video games on personalised online "channels", and the blurring of video games and gambling in numerous contexts.
His first book, 'The Unpredictability of Gameplay', is due to be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2018 and presents a Deleuzean analysis of randomness, chance and luck in games, the effects different kinds of unpredictability have on players, and the communities that arise around them. He is currently writing two new monographs, one about the phenomenon of live streaming on Twitch.tv and the work, labour, lives and careers of those who make their living on the platform, and another about the growth of "fantasy sports betting" as a form of gambling disguised under the aesthetic, thematic and mechanical forms of sports management video games.
Outside academia he is also an independent game developer, a regular games writer, blogger and podcaster, and a former professional poker player.
Dates & times
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|22 Feb 2018||4:00pm - 5:30pm|
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