The Reality of Labor in Gaming Entertainment

Today’s professional gamers don’t answer to a boss in the traditional sense of the word. While that seems like a childhood dream, in 2020, platforms like YouTube and Twitch have taken the role of bosses without any of the actual human responsibility. As the livestreaming and esports industries become more professionalized by the day, it is increasingly clear that professional gamers can’t pay off a mortgage with just views, follows and clout. The systems of these digital entertainment platforms are relatively opaque and often unstable, which has left creators nearly powerless to anticipate changes that severely impact their livelihood and earn leverage over their “dream” work environment. So what do these cutting-edge jobs mean for the future of labor? Join WIRED games journalist Cecilia D’Anastasio, esports and digital labor scholar Will Partin and internet moderation researcher Kat Lo as they discuss the real impact of these platforms and the digital labor that makes up the games entertainment industry.

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

photo of William Clyde Partin III
William Clyde Partin III

University of North Carolina, Center for Information, Technology and Public Life

photo of Cecilia D'Anastasio
photo of Kat Lo
Kat Lo


Primary Access
Music Badge
Platinum Badge
Film Badge
Interactive Badge