Hello! It’s been almost a year. Time for an update.
I am currently enrolled at the University of Washington, Bothell, in the Media and Communication program. What does that mean? It means lots of thorough communication theory and hands on practice, especially with video. I’m fortunate that my university places a big emphasis on research and so I have many outlets to pursue my own academic interests. I’m currently focusing on groundwork for a senior thesis project later this year. I’m reading, meeting with experts, and filling out paperwork. Today I found out my project is IRB-exempt, which is a huge relief.
In between all of this, I’m trying to learn how to navigate academia and research (like, what’s an IRB? Why do I need to do it? I can’t just talk to people?). I’m lucky enough to have some good professors take an interest in me and my work and I feel very fortunate to be able to conduct my own research while still in my undergraduate career for credit. It’s something I didn’t think I’d be able to do even a year ago. I’m hopeful that what I’m doing now will prepare me for my next goal, which is grad school.
What’s my project, after all that? It’s Twitch. Yes, Twitch. Who knew you could research Twitch for academic purposes? Not me! I’m focusing on community tools at the moment (Discord, emails, subscriptions, etc) and how they build community and who is included and excluded. Now that my paperwork is complete and I can talk to people, I’ll be interviewing broadcasters and viewers alike. I’m hoping to create a really good groundwork for further research: why do people like Twitch? Why do they stick with it? Maybe some more questions, but that’s a good start. As always, I’m very sensitive to and interested about issues around social justice, minority groups, and gender in the video game world, so I’m keeping an eye on that as well in this study. I am so excited that I am passionate about what I’m studying and researching. I’m excited for the next six months of my study and about what I’ll learn.
Two years ago I wrote an article about DayZ and that still gets dragged out sometimes and I still get comments about it, and mostly they’re not very nice. Whenever there’s another gamer outrage over something regarding women in video games, I get new comments. I regret nothing, and I believe that anyone should be able to write about their experiences, no matter their academic credentials. It’s been an interesting experience coming off of a sort of viral article (viral in the sense that people took screen shots of my Twitter and I ended up on weird blogs, in this post-gamer radicalized world) and into this world of academia. It’s still a disconnect I’m trying to figure out.
So anyway, that’s my update. As an offshoot, I’ll be trying, again, to stream on Twitch. I streamed consistently for about a month last year, before life circumstances sort of derailed that plan. I feel that in order to have a more holistic understanding of what I’m studying, I need to stream more. I’m looking at starting that in the middle of May. Most of the content on this blog will now probably be focused around my research and some unstructured writing concerning it.
If you would like to reach me, my contact information is on my “contact” page, or you can reach me on Twitter. I’m excited to be back.