Semantic Apparatus – Streaming ambivalence: Livestreaming and indie game development

Cited by Lee Sonogan

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Abstract by Felan Parker, Matthew E Perks

Commercial game makers at all scales of production have increasingly come to incorporate livestreaming into every stage of the game development cycle. Mainstream hits like Fortnite and League of Legends owe their ongoing success in no small part to their massive uptake by streamers, and triple-A releases from major publishers can reliably expect significant attention on streaming platforms. But what about smaller, lower budget games? For independent game developers, the costs and benefits of streaming are less clear. Based on interviews with small commercial indie developers in Toronto and Montréal, this article critically examines different discourses around streaming and commercial indie games, focusing on developer perceptions of the benefits and risks of streaming and its impacts on indie game-making practices, including production, promotion, and community-building. Contrary to persistent popular myths about streaming as the key to ‘discoverability’, commercial indie game development remains a precarious form of cultural work, and indie games collectively attract only a tiny fraction of the overall audience on streaming platforms. There is a high level of uncertainty about the factors that led to a given game’s success, leaving many indie developers ambivalent about leveraging influencer attention and even as they commit significant time and energy trying to doing so.

Publication: Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

Pub Date: July 28, 2021 Doi:

Keywords: Cultural production, game development, game studies, independent games, indie games, live streaming, platforms, Twitch (Plenty more sections and references in this research article)

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