Publication: "Just Watchers" (2021)
Updated: Apr 19, 2021
My newest publication titled "Just Watchers": A qualitative analysis of non-players' motivations for video game spectatorship is now out in New Media & Society (online first).
This is my favorite piece to date, as I got to explore an under-studied, but growing and culturally relevant, segment of gaming fandom - the people who don't play video games themselves, but love to watch others play them, either virtually or in person.
This study explores the phenomenon of video game spectatorship from the perspective of a population I refer to as “just watchers.” Previous studies have tended to focus on game spectatorship from turn-taking “non-players” or live-streaming audiences, specifically. “Just watchers” are individuals who express no desire to play video games themselves, yet are avid spectators of others’ video game play, both virtually and in-person. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 27 participants, this study explores their motivations for gaming spectatorship, as well as their aversion to playing games themselves. Findings suggest the “work” of playing games, lack of skill, access to games, and toxic online communities are deterrents to playing games. Participants expressed that games spectatorship offers them narrative engagement that is distinct from traditional media, and that despite “just watching,” they tend to consider themselves as part of gaming culture.
This piece serves as a jumping off point for my in-the-works book-length project dealing with the same subject matter. Hope you all enjoy!