This is where all relevant articles discussing games podcasts will be located. Unfortunately, there aren’t any at the moment, so in addition to any which we may be working on which will be linked below, here’s a list of articles and papers that have informed our analysis of games podcasts. Most of these articles fall into at least one of three fields: games studies, podcast studies, and platform studies.
Nick Srnieck’s Platform Capitalism: An important part of studying game podcasts is analyzing the business practices behind them. As podcasts are almost always reliant on platforms such as Apple Podcast, Spotify, Twitch or others, an understanding of the business practices of these platforms is also important. To that end, Nick Srnieck’s Platform Capitalism is a great explainer, especially in regard to the four aspects of platform enclosure that can affect creators.
The works of Brooke Erin Duffy, Thomas Poell, David B. Nieborg, and Jose van Dijck: Some of the most prominent authors currently working in the area of platform studies, our work is indebted to the ideas put forward by their analysis of some of the biggest platforms existing today. Beyond the readings mentioned below, special mention also goes to the two special issues of Social Media + Society edited by the group—you’ll find some of the articles mentioned in other areas, and if you want an article on any form of online platform, there will probably be one in that pair of issues
- Duffy, B. E., Poell, T., & Nieborg, D. B. (2019). Platform Practices in the Cultural Industries: Creativity, Labor, and Citizenship. Social Media + Society.
- Nieborg, D. B., Duffy, B. E., & Poell, T. (2020). Studying Platforms and Cultural Production: Methods, Institutions, and Practices. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120943273
- Nieborg, D. B., & Poell, T. (2018). The platformization of cultural production: Theorizing the contingent cultural commodity. New Media & Society, 20(11), 4275–4292. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818769694
- Poell, T. & Nieborg, D. & van Dijck, J. (2019). Platformisation. Internet Policy Review, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.14763/2019.4.1425
- van Dijck, J. & Nieborg, D. & Poell, T. (2019). Reframing platform power. Internet Policy Review, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.14763/2019.2.1414
Martin Kenney and John Zysman – The Rise of the Platform Economy: This article does a great job at highlighting the multilayered aspects of the Platform Economy. Highlighting the internet’s inherent nature as a platform, and the ways that some platform holders own multiple platforms and the ties between them that may occur, Kenney and Zysman provide an important overview of the potential futures of the field, and the questions that we should be asking when studying it.
Susanne Kopf – Rewarding Good Creators: This article from the previously mentioned Social Media + Society special issue highlights the asymmetries of power present between creators and platform on YouTube. Analyzing the Partner Program which creators can use to monetize their work through advertising, Kopf comprehensively breaks down the ways in which this system works to reinforce the strengths of the platform and the relative powerlessness of creators when it comes to commodifying their labour through the platform. This issue is one which will be relevant in our study of games podcasts, and is also relevant to the field due to YouTube’s use as a platform by both podcasters and gaming content creators.
Robyn Caplan and Tartleton Gillespie – Tiered Governance and Demonetisation: Following on from the Rewarding Good Creators article, this piece by Caplan and Gillespie—also from the Social Media + Society special issue—highlights the ways that the asymmetries of power do not end at the separation between platform holders and creators. In reality, different creators receive different privileges and guidelines. Larger creators get more dedicated support, and corporate creators seem to have less strict rules and guidelines. With gaming podcasts coming for a variety of creators both professional and amateur, and receiving different levels of success, determining what—if any—role tiered governance has in the industry is an important topic of study.
Jose M. Tomasena – Negotiating Collaborations: The final article in this section from Social Media + Society special issues, this one highlights the difficulties that creators have when interacting with publishers or businesses who their work covers. While it focuses on “BookTube”—the section of YouTube dedicated to coverage of books—the issues covered by Tomasena are equally relevant to gaming podcasts. Creators often feel that the benefits they receive from publishers (free copies of products to review, attendance to exclusive events) creates a tension between obligations to publishers and obligations to their work and their audience, something which is as true for gaming podcasts as it is for book reviewers.
Benedetta Brevini & Lukasz Swaitek – Amazon: Understanding a Global Communications Giant: Brevini’s position in the University of Sydney’s Media and Communications department may bias me slightly, but I think this book provides one of the most interesting lenses through which we can look at the influence and power of platform (and broader communications) giants. After thoroughly recapping the rise of Amazon and the practices it has used to assert and maintain its dominance, Brevini and Swaitek conclude this book by proposing that these giants should be viewed as “Digital Lords”, with their influence being akin to that of a feudal lord who controls the other tiers of society such as vassals and serfs while maintaining their absolute authority. This framework, which the authors have continued to flesh out in their later publications, is particularly helpful when analyzing the differing dynamics between a variety of stakeholders (platforms and platform holders, creators, audiences, advertisers) something which this project aims to do in regards to the challenges faced by the podcast creators.
Shoshana Zuboff – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: Another book which aims to provide a new lens through which to analyze the power of platforms and media giants, Zuboff’s work here is more focused on highlighting the ways in which these large powers work to transform and commodify human experience and life itself into data which can be utilized in a capitalistic framework. While this may initially seem slightly outside of the framework of this project, it will likely be important when it comes to analysing the metrics of success which are used in gaming podcast spheres. More and more, data such as listenership metrics are being used to determine the success of a podcast, and shows may be shaped in order to maximize these metrics. In this way, we can see that Zuboff’s framework is also applicable here.
T.L Taylor – Watch Me Play: One of the most comprehensive works on Twitch and the variety of activities that take place on the platform, T.L Taylor’s Watch Me Play is an indispensable resource for those looking to study Twitch, or even gaming content creation more broadly. Taylor covers a variety of topics relevant to both gaming content creation, and games podcasts more specifically, including the history of broadcasting, the behind the scenes labour that goes into creating content, the state of the broader gaming industry, and the future avenues of regulation that may become important.
Garry Crawford and David Hancock – Cosplay and the Art of Play: While only tangentially related to games podcasts, this book provides a great example of an indepth analysis of a specific gaming content creation subculture or industry. It provides a great example of how analysing motivations and contextualising the research can work to greatly increase the relevance of a targeted study. Additionally, it highlights the possibilities provided by incorporating art into one’s research.
Marcus Carter and Ben Egliston – The Work of Watching Twitch: This article provides a great analysis of some of the hidden labour associated with streaming—and by extension other forms of gaming content creation—that might often go ignored: the work that the audience provides. Through a lens of Marxist theory, the article points out the ways in which these platforms capture and transform the labour that the audience performs to heighten their influence. While this labour is not “duped or exploited” it raises important questions about the role the audience plays in the success of a streamer—questions which are equally applicable to the study of games podcasts.
Mark R. Johnson and Jamie Woodcock – It’s like the Gold Rush: In contrast to the Work of Watching article, Johnson and Woodcock’s work here provides a great example of research providing analysis of the streamer perspective on the industry. One of the particularly interesting things highlighted in this article is the perceived meritocratic nature of the new media form. Streamers buy into this deeply neoliberal notion, highlighting their role in any successes they may have while downplaying any effect others may have played. This notion is also one which appears in podcast studies research, adopted by creators in that field.
Alex P. Leith – Parasocial Cues: Parasocial relationships. It’s one of those rare academic terms which has broken into the mainstream and has been adopted by the general public, often being tossed around in discussions of new media forms which include more interactions between creators and fans. A concept relevant to both gaming content creation and podcasting, Leith’s work here provides a great starting point for examining what is, and is not, parasocial in nature when it comes to Twitch.
Daniel Joseph – Battle Pass Capitalism: While not directly relevant to gaming content creation, this article is a personal favourite which highlights the ways that the capitalistic notions governing platforms are reproduced in all other levels of the gaming industry. It also shows the way that games themselves are becoming platforms in their own right, transforming from individual products to ongoing services. An honourable mention also goes to Joseph’s PhD analysis of Steam which provides a thorough analysis of Steam as a platform, and an illuminating case study of the way platforms interact with creative fan communities in its study of a “paid mods” fiasco.
Olli Sotaama – Let Me Take You To The Movies: Sotaama’s analysis in this article highlights two important things about the ways that game companies attempt to transform and commodify the work done by fan communities and gaming content creators: this has been happening for a long time, and that many practices aimed at increasing returns—while particularly suited to the games industry—have their origins in other media industries.
Maria Törhönen, Max Sjöblom, Lobna Hassan, and Juho Hamari – A Study on Why People Create Content on Video Platforms: This study analyses the motivations of content creators, something we hope to expand on for gaming podcast creators. As part of our research, we hope to determine whether the motivations for gaming podcast creators align with the core motivators discussed here (competence, relatedness, and autonomy) or if there are different motivations at play.
Dario Llinares, Neil Fox and Richard Berry – Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media: This was one of the first books I read when beginning my research into podcast studies. It’s a great starting point, covering a variety of important topics including the differences and similarities between podcasts and other similar media forms like radio, specific trends and practices that have developed in the field, the creation of things like podcast networks, the culture around podcasts and more. I would recommend this as a good read for anybody looking to dip their toes into the field.
Vanessa Quirk – Guide to Podcasting: This guide, written for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia School of Journalism is another great resource for those starting out in the field. While focused on how podcasts relate to journalism, the ways that Quirk outlines the state of the industry are applicable to all. Her discussion of the major operating philosophies, business models, and key unresolved issues in the field are all likely to be referenced in this project. And while the whole thing is great, it is lengthy—for the time starved the executive summary highlights some of the most pertinent points.
Jonathan Sterne, Jeremy Morris, Michael Brendan Baker, and Ariana Moscote Freire – The Politics of Podcasting: One of the earliest articles included on this list, this work highlights some of the earliest analysis of the medium. As well as providing a history of both the technology and the terminology behind podcasting, it explains how the assumptions and expectations associated with the formative elements have helped define the field of podcasting. Additionally, it interrogates the question of whether podcasts are a form of “broadcast”, and in doing so highlights the ways in which what we think of as broadcasting in the present day have been shaped by hegemonic powers
Jeremy Wade Morris and Eric Hoyt (Editors) – Saving New Sounds: Another big book dedicated to podcasts, Saving New Sounds has some great chapters relevant to this project—all tied together by the topic of podcast preservation. The chapters on RSS (Hansen) and Spotification (Morris) in particular are quite applicable when it comes to discussing the effects that platforms have on podcasts and podcast creators, and chapters which highlight the hidden histories of podcasting from diverse creators (Wang, and Florini and Barber) serve as an important reminder of potential blind spots to keep in mind as we conduct our research. Lastly, the chapter highlighting the different types of podcast created by academics (Hagood) could be helpful when we (hopefully) begin to create our own podcast to accompany the project.
Jeremy Wade Morris – Infrastructures of Discovery: Jeremy Wade Morris’ work in this article serves as a great starting point to examine the ways that platforms influence the work of podcasters. The paper focuses on two key challenges that podcasters struggle with in their quest for success: discoverability (how easy it is to find the podcast) and measurability (what metrics are used to measure a podcast’s success). Morris argues that the ‘infrastructures of discovery’—features, mechanisms, interfaces and pathways used to help navigate these issues—are representative of a specific form of industrialisation that prioritises discoverability. This analysis highlights an important aspect of the podcasting industries—platforms prioritise specific things in their creation and discovery, and creators often find themselves adapting their content to suit the platforms priorities.
John L. Sullivan – The Platforms of Podcasting: Even more explicitly than Morris’ work, this paper highlights the relationships between podcasts and platforms. In a similar fashion to the work in Saving New Sounds, it highlights the contrast between the open nature of the RSS feed and the trends towards platform enclosure that many big platforms are focused on. It also highlights the ways in which platforms shape interactions (both from creators and audiences) and notes that one such way that podcast platforms do this is through their monopolization of data which, as Morris notes, is an important asset when dealing with discoverability and measurability.
Daniela Schlütz and Imke Hedder – Aural-Parasocial Relationships: As previously mentioned, parasocial relationships are a topic that is relevant not just to gaming content creation, but also to podcasting. Schültz and Hedder highlight the ways that that the unique nature of podcasts interact with the ideas of parasocial relationships—for example, while a lack of physical host may be viewed as a negative in other mediums, here it may strengthen the parasoical relationship by allowing the audience to have an image of an ideal imagined host. The article highlights the three ways an attractive persona for a parasocial relationship is built: physically, socially, and behaviourally.
Matt Sienkiewicz and Deborah L. Jaramillo – Podcasting, the intimate self and the public sphere: The nature of podcasts seemingly creating an intimate relationship is the main focus of this article, something which ties back into the discussion of parasocial relationships. Alongside highlight the tensions between the pressure to create an intimate, authentic personal and keeping personal boundaries, it also highlights another important fact about podcasts: many do not aim to reach a broad listening public and instead work on creating content for dedicated micropublics.
John Sullivan, Patricia Aufderheide,Tiziano Bonini, Richard Berry, and Dario Llinares – Podcasting in Transition: Formalization and its discontents: All the selected papers from this panel touch on one of the key tensions this project aims to explore: the ways in which the attempts at formalization and industrialisation by platforms and traditional media companies are challenged by the nature of the podcast medium, or the wishes of podcast creators. The tensions between capitalistic modes of production and the medium are multifacted, something many of these papers cover. From the information focused approach to monetization which uses audience metrics to determine success, to their origins as an informal, open source medium, many of the ideas here are shared to some degree with gaming content creation, once again highlight the importance of this examination of gaming podcasts.
Nic Newman and Nathan Gallo – News Podcasts and the Opportunities for Publishers: Expanding on the ideas surrounding the ways traditional media utilizes podcasting, this piece provides a case study examining the ways that publishers are doing just that. In doing so it provides many important part, including typologies of both podcast formats and podcast producers, more insight into monetization strategies—and particularly how traditional media monetize their podcasts, and the role that platforms play in the success of podcasts.
Knight Foundation – Understanding Public Media’s Most Engaged Podcasts: Much has been said about the way that podcast listeners make extremely dedicated fans, or represent a market that is otherwise inaccessible. This article provides a breakdown of some of the statistics that support these claims. It highlights who these super listeners are by noting not only their consumption habits (timeshifted content, listened to on mobile), but also their preferences and opinions (high trust in the podcast hosts, willingness to support public media, preference for in depth content). While far from a definitive exploration of these “super-listeners”, the article nevertheless provides an interesting starting point from which examination of this new type of audience member may extend.
Jennifer Smith Maguire and Julian Matthews (Editors) – The Cultural Intermediaries Reader: Part of our research is concerned with analysing gaming podcast creators as cultural intermediaries. Many of the podcasts initially sampled seemed to adopt this role, at least in part. Many games podcasts are dedicated to analysing news, providing reviews, and serving as an authoritative voice on matters of interest to gaming cultures. In this way, they fill the role of the cultural intermediaries as initially defined by Bourdieu—they are a kind of “cultural tastemaker”. The Cultural Intermediaries reader serves as a fine introduction to these concepts, highlighting Bourdieu’s original ideas, as well as the multitude of ways they can be applied to roles in modern society.
Jonathon Hutchinson – Cultural Intermediaries: Expanding on the ideas of Bourdieu, Hutchinson’s book focuses on the ways that cultural intermediaries have become an important part of the new media landscape. Particular attention is given to the ways that institutions and public broadcasting services attempt to utilize cultural intermediaries as a way of mediating the various differing interests and motivations of all the stakeholders involved in the production and consumption process. For example, PBS cultural intermediaries must work to mediate between the editorial standards of their organisation, the remit of any given production, the desires and expectations of the audience, advertisers if they exist, and the guiding principles that undergird PBS. In a similar way, gaming podcasts are often beholden to various parties—the audience, the platform owners, any advertisers, and more. As a result, they are likely to adopt the role of cultural intermediaries as outlined in Hutchinson’s work. This project will further delve into this, hoping to outline the strategies utilized by creators to help manage this role.
Anja Bechmann – Internet Profiling: Many of the previously mentioned articles have touched on the ways that advertising is an important source of revenue for both gaming content creators and podcasters. This article narrows down the focus to look at the booming business of targeted advertising. It highlights the importance of intraoperability in making this type of advertising work, as well as the stakeholders who have an interest in this intraoperability. Targeted or dynamic advertising is something present in both podcasting and gaming content creation, with these ads working to provide creators a potential revenue source for their labour
Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn and Debra Howcroft – Amazon Mechanical Turk and the Commodification of Labour: Part of this project aims to examine the ways, both directly and indirectly, that gaming podcast creators commodify or monetize their labour. Due to the neo-liberal tendencies of most western countries, this is a pressing concern for many creators, no matter what their field. This paper highlights one of the most obvious ways in which labour is commodified in the present day by examining Amazon Mechanical Turk. In doing so it highlights the myriad of dangers and difficulties faced by those who attempt to use the platform to commodify their labour—the platform’s global nature means it operates outside of many forms of regulation, labourers do not own their own labour as it is instead owned by the contractor, there are almost zero legal protections for workers, and the platform is designed in a way which is heavily biased towards contractors in any conflict cases. Whether these dynamics are repeated in the gaming podcast sphere or if creators are more empowered in the ways they commodify their labour is a question which this project aims to answer.
Crystal Abidin – Communicative Intimacies: Influencers and Perceived Interconnectedness: Much of Abidin’s work is useful for this project. It is arguable that many, if not all, of the podcast hosts and creators involved in these shows are successful or aspiring influencers of some kind—albeit influencers working in a different medium to the ones that Abidin often studies. This work however, is even more related than some of her other writings due to its focus on parasocial relationships. Abidin takes an interesting approach—in contrast to other articles mentioned which examine the parasocial aspects of new media, she attempts to distinguish between the parasocial relationships of old media and what she calls the “Perceived Interconnectedness” of new media relationships. In comparison to the relatively producer controlled and theatrical nature of parasocial relationships, Abidin argues that perceived interconnectedness is more intimate and reciprocal in their nature. What is most interesting is that podcasts seem to fall in-between the two categories as Abidin defines them, fostering both parasocial relationships and perceived interconnectedness. While it is doubtful this project will reject the former and embrace the latter when discussing podcasts, it will likely draw from Abidin’s work highlighting the distinctions between these relationships in old and new media formats.
Mia Consalvo – When Paratexts become texts: This is a great article to highlight the importance of the subjects that are the focus of this research. Consalvo uses the examples of game mods and streamers to highlight that sometimes the paratexts which are created from games can become texts in their own right. Hopefully this project makes the same case for gaming podcasts as being texts in their own right. Like much of the field of gaming content creation, these shows are pushing the boundaries between industries and other fields in new and surprising ways which merit examination not as spinoffs of other things, but as unique texts in and of themselves.