A group of researchers from the Indiana University Network Science Institute analyzed more than 70 million chat messages posted to 200 female streamers’ channels and 200 male streamers’ channels on Twitch. They were specifically looking to see if chat messages addressed to the streamers changed significantly depending on their gender.
Their study, called Gendered Conversation in a Social Game-Streaming Platform, found that female streamers would often receive messages focused on their physical appearance, with some of the more common words being boobs, babe and cute. Male streamers on the other hand, would receive more messages related to gaming, with common words like melee, leaderboards and glitch.
“Our results indicate that female channels are characterized by words about physical appearance, the body, relationships, and greetings while male channels are characterized by game-related words. In sum, both our exploratory analysis and classification exercise suggests that the answer to our first main research question — “are the chat messages that streamers receive gendered?” — is “yes”.”
They also found that the objectification of female streamers was much more pronounced if the channel was popular.
The researchers do acknowledge that their study did have a limitation. They only looked at the messages in chat, and did not look at how the streamers themselves interact with chat, which could affect what viewers message those streamers.