It was billed as “the biggest event in the history of the terminally online.” A debate: socialism vs. capitalism. On your left side, the esteemed Marxist economist Richard Wolff. On your right, a StarCraft player-turned-Twitch intellectual: Steven Bonnel II, better known as Destiny. We dissect the debate, and its limitations. But more broadly, we ask, why are gamers becoming an emerging political commentariat, and what does that mean for the rest of us? Twitch is reshaping political and intellectual discourse, whether we like it or not; is it making that discourse more vibrant and more inclusive, or more phoney and more bro-y?
- First (@7:09), Steven Kenneth Bonnell II, better known by most as Destiny, is a Twitch streamer and liberal political commentator with over 350,000 subscribers on YouTube. He talks about Twitch-stream intellectualism — or a lack thereof — and how it intersects with gaming. He also digs into his debate with Marxist economist Richard Wolff and the politics and pageantry of making a living online.
- Next (@33:55), Trevor Strunk has a PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and hosts No Cartridge, a podcast about Marxist dialectical action. He breaks down the Destiny vs. Wolff debate and takes us into the world of gaming politics — including the “them versus us” mentality that draws and keeps our attention.
- Then (@51:47), T.L. Taylor is a Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT who researches online communities and gaming culture. She wrote the book on Twitch. Literally. It’s called Watch Me Play. She explains the history of gaming spaces and the evolution of gaming that brought it about — and what that means for streamers and those who follow them.
- Finally (@1:11:22), Tanya DePass, known as Cypherofyr, is a Twitch streamer, activist, and journalist. She’s also the founder of the not for profit organization, I Need Diverse Games. She introduces us to her online community and discusses the struggle to create more inclusive, diverse gaming spaces while reminding us that many games are inherently political, despite what some suggest.
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This week, our generous Patrons can listen to Gordon’s full, completely unedited interview with Destiny.
——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-
- For more on Destiny’s story from Starcraft player to Twitch gadfly, we recommend his profile in Mother Jones. Plus, Visit Destiny’s Twitch stream or YouTube channel. Watch his debate with Richard Wolff and his clash with a far-right interlocutor.
- Check out Trevor Strunk’s podcast No Cartridge, including episode 175: Why Games? and Patch Notes 2.15: Jet Set Biden Future. Watch for Trevor’s forthcoming book Story Mode: Video Games and the Interplay Between Consoles and Culture.
- Pick up T.L. Taylor’s book Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Live Streaming and have a look at her research.
- Visit Tanya DePass’s YouTube channel and Twitch stream. And be sure to visit her not for profit I Need Diverse Games.
Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn, our assistant producer is Ren Bangert, and our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. Our research assistants are Addye Susnick and David Moscrop. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.
This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor. It was also part of a wider project looking at the politics of video games, housed at UBC and also advised by Lennart E. Nacke at the University of Waterloo.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.