A Motivation Analysis of Video Game Microstreamers

‘Finding My People and Myself’ on YouTube and Twitch

Microstreamers broadcast their video game play and commentary to small audiences on YouTube and Twitch. To draw a holistic picture of their motivations, this study conducted semi-structured interviews employing two complementary frameworks. A Uses and Gratifications approach showed that social integrative needs predominate – even personal integrative and affective need satisfaction depend on audience. In parallel, a Self-Determination Theory approach demonstrated satisfaction of three fundamental needs: the autonomy of an artist–entrepreneur; the relatedness of a community leader; and skill competence displayed to an audience. Microstreamers are driven to “find their people” online, where, through performance, they “find themselves” anew.

This study sought a holistic picture of microstreamer motivation using conventional frameworks. Empirical observation through semi-structured interviews made evident that social motivations predominate, reflecting the bonds formed among the creator and a small, regular audience. Other motivations depend upon these relationships; therefore, microstreaming should be considered foremost a social activity. Colloquially, we can say that microstreamers are motivated to “find their people,” and through these communities they also “find themselves” in an ongoing process of personal development.