The politics of user-platform relationships: Co-scripting live-streaming on Twitch.tv
Keywords:users, platforms, sociomateriality, live-streaming, Twitch
What characterises the relationship between users and platforms? How are use and users configured by platform design, and in turn, how do users accept or reject such efforts? Using the live-streaming platform Twitch, this paper explores the user-platform relationship to answer these questions. Twitch is a highly popular live-streaming platform with an emphasis on gaming, whose rise to fame has been far from streamlined or expected. Based on qualitative analysis of design, discourse and user practices, the paper draws on script theory from science and technology studies and platform theory from Internet studies, to unpack the configuration of use and users. By tracing the development of the platform, we identify a pattern of frequent interaction between platform owners and users, and consequent course changes, which we label co-scription. Finally, we analyse the current Twitch script and propose five dimensions of co-scription that determine the user-platform relationship: 1) Sociality: community or individual use; 2) Audience: specific or general; 3) Moderation: strictly moderated or laissez-faire; 4) Content: user-generated or commercial; and 5) Scope: specialised or multi-feature.
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