Study Shows Twitch Chat Is Very Different When Women Are Streaming

In the "water is wet" category, researchers at Indiana University just published a study confirming that Twitch viewers on popular women's streams like to talk about boobs. It also asks why big-name female streamers hear a higher ratio of chat comments about their bodies than women who run less-trafficked Twitch channels.

(Photo (C) Bryan Sikora / Stockfresh)

The researchers analysed 200 female and male Twitch channels, both popular and unpopular, and over 70 million chat messages. After a comprehensive and truly unsurprising review of shitlords and trash memes, the researchers conclude that "the conversation in Twitch is strongly gendered".

The difference was starkest between popular women's and men's Twitch channels. In those channels, viewers spam words like "boobs", "pussy", "hot", "cute" and "smile", which if you are a person who has ever been on the website Twitch.tv, might not give you cardiac arrest or anything. Asked about his findings, one author of the study, Giovanni Ciampaglia, told VICE Motherboard, "Viewers on women's stream spoke in more objectifying terms... which confirms that anecdotal evidence."

For high-traffic men's channels, the most frequent words are "points", "winner", "rank" and "kills". The study took place in 2014 and was published this month — it's possible that the gender divide in Twitch channels has closed quite a bit since then.

"Gendered Conversation in a Social Game-Streaming Platform"

On popular female Twitch streamer Kaceytron, who parodies so-called "titty streamers" and invites trolls into her chat, the researchers write, "'Kaceytron' cluster is full of users whose vectors are highly similar to the vector for 'boobs', suggesting that the chat messages made by these users share high semantic similarity with the word 'boobs.'" In English, that means that Twitch viewers like Kaceytron's enjoy talking about breasts. In less eminent women's channels, words about chat moderation were most frequent, implying that channels like Kaceytron's that use minimal moderation attract the most viewers and more raucous behaviour.

Interestingly, one of the reasons researchers give for the stark chat differences is the financial incentive for prominent, and potentially partnered, Twitch streamers to play into gender stereotypes. The researchers write that there's pressure on Twitch "for streamers to increase subscribers and possibly to conform to the requests of the male viewers, the majority of many streamers' 'customers'".

"No shit" studies like this can help bolster conversations about why Twitch's culture can be so divisive across gender lines, and necessary for suggestions on how female streamers can get big without opening themselves up to harassment or showing more skin than they're comfortable with.

And, I wonder, is there anything about Twitch as a platform that creates this rift between men's and women's channels?


Comments

    Oh boy, I can't wait for the comments on this one.

      I have literally been coming back to the page every 20 mins waiting... So exciting

      It's almost like Kotaku have found that articles with possible controversial topics gain higher page views and comment counts....

        It's almost like I dont understand why all the alt-right libertarians continue to come here when everyone knows Kotaku are dirty leftist SJWs.

    Nice modern photo of a female gamer to help the cause, can you even Twitch on a 360?

      Yes, by hooking the 360 up to a capture card. You can also use a 360 controller for your PC.

      I'm not sure that decrying the choice of stock photo used is a productive area of discussion.

    Ummmm.... what is twitch

      You know that kid in primary school who invited you over to play video games and you instead end up watching him play. Twitch is like that, expect instead of one person watching, it's hundreds and they are all shouting.

    "'Kaceytron' cluster is full of users whose vectors are highly similar to the vector for 'boobs', suggesting that the chat messages made by these users share high semantic similarity with the word 'boobs.'"

    Can we appreciate for a second that this is an actual sentence?

    I know that this can come close to the realm of victim blaming, but I'd be interested in seeing the camera angles used by each gender and if there's any patterns to this. I know that twitch banned certain types of videos (topless ones) from taking place, but I wouldn't be surprised if women who play with the camera angled so that 60% of the screen's real estate is cleavage get comments about their bust.

    On the flip side of that coin, if the camera is literally just showing a girl's face, I can't imagine why comments about boobs would even be considered.

    I've read through the article, but it doesn't seem to account for the focus of the camera versus the focus of topic of conversation. If I streamed a game and the camera just showed my feet, I'd expect there to be a lean towards podiatry in the comments (including foot fetishists). It would be a matter of "this is what I'm advertising my channel as, so that's why people come here to discuss it". The article does point out that it's a viewer's market and if people aren't getting what they want from a channel, they'll go elsewhere. It makes sense that streamers are going for the lowest common denominator in order to maximise views and revenue.

    I'd love to hear from anyone who does make boob comments on streams where boobs aren't the focus of the camera. In my mind I can't understand why anyone who wasn't a tween being "funny" by saying "show me your boobs LOL" or the like would do it. I mean, this is the internet. You can literally see live boobs on camera with only a few clicks at any given time.

    Last edited 24/11/16 11:26 am

      Good friend of mine is a semi successful amateur streamer (~3000 subs). She's attractive, but her streams are 100% content focused, doesn't wear revealing clothing, camera is focused on her face etc. She still gets a bunch of horrible comments in her chat. Or she did, before she got a moderator anyway.

        What kind of comments are we talking here? I'm genuinely curious. The article just says that there's mention of "boobs" but not much around context.

      I like your optimism mate, but in regards to the

      ...in my mind I can't understand why anyone who wasn't a tween being "funny" by saying "show me your boobs LOL" or the like would do it. I mean, this is the internet. You can literally see live boobs on camera with only a few clicks at any given time.

      section, you only have to ask any girl on any dating site, twitter, instagram etc and you'll see dozens of ppl demanding / suggesting / politely requesting to see their boobs / ass etc... despite, as you mentioned, the fact that they could go to literally thousands of sites where those things are already shown.

      I don't quite get it either, but it seems to me to be a mix of wanting power ie "she did what I asked / told", rarity "not everyone can see what I just saw" and honestly... just plain bad manners.

    90% of female streamers have their racks out because they know its gets teenage boys all hot and bothered (and watching their stream). If they didn't have a giant rack, they wouldn't get anywhere near the same amount of attention. Same as cosplayers.

    /caseclosed

      read this bit again:

      "No shit" studies like this can help bolster conversations about why Twitch's culture can be so divisive across gender lines, and necessary for suggestions on how female streamers can get big without opening themselves up to harassment or showing more skin than they're comfortable with.

      the point I think being made here is that in order for woman to make money from streaming (which let's be honest, is the entire point for the majority of streamers these days), women feel they need to make themselves look hot and sexy - which is probably not what they wanna do, but feel pressured to because it's the only way to get attention from thirsty dude-bros.

      When was the last time you saw some jacked muscle-bound dude with perfect hair and teeth streaming on Twitch?

    " On popular female Twitch streamer Kaceytron, who parodies so-called "titty streamers" "

    I don't think what she does is parody... pretty sure that's just what she does.

      Yeah, just typed "Kayectron" into google image search because I'd never heard of her before. My advice? Don't do that if you're at work.

      Where do you draw the line between satire and actual action? I mean, if she streams with her boobs as much on display as possible, can she really pull the "but I'm doing it ironically" card? I mean, if I walked into a strip club, gave dances to customers and took payment for it, I'm not sure my argument of "I'm not a stripper, I'm just parodying strippers" would hold any water. If it talks like a duck and it walks like a duck...

    And in other news; the sky is blue and water is wet. Stay tuned for more shocking developments!

    The problem here is that when using specific streamers (In this case, Kaceytron) as experimental data, it tends to get a bit flawed. In this case, the experiment was to see how harassed a popular female streamer is vs popular males/unpopular females/unpopular males.

    Kaceytron is one of the WORST examples you could have used for this "research". But the outcome of the experiment was decided BEFORE it was conducted, we can easily dismiss this as some pretty biased bullshit.

    By the way, who were the other streamers used to conduct this experiment? It's amusing that only Kaceytron is named in anything to do with the experiment. Another streamer, Hafu Chan, is referenced in the Vice article; but only in reference to a piece on female harassment done earlier this year.

    Last edited 24/11/16 10:57 pm

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