Mixing work and play – overview of research on the occupational characteristics of video content creation

Video content creation represents a new hybrid form of work and play. Private individuals create content on dedicated video sharing platforms, such as YouTube, and streaming and video sharing services, such as Twitch, in growing numbers. Spurred on by improvements in digital technology and trends in economy, culture, and society, they increasingly gain access to monetisation and various business opportunities. Additionally, the professionalisation and revenue potential of these amateur content creators keeps improving. A global phenomenon has evolved around digital video content and further cultivated its professional content creator culture.

It is bound to improve further and become even more popular and widespread in the coming years – thus calling for both an accurate understanding of how it may act as a legitimate form of work and a study of its current established forms and structures. As such, Gamification Group members Maria Törhönen and Juho Hamari with Johann Giertz and Welf H. Weiger conducted a systematic literature review in which they examined 75 existing papers on the increasing professionalisation of video content creation and the perceptions of the activity as a form of work. In their paper, the four academics analyse elements of work and labour found in the reviewed sources and provide an overview on how the available literature on the subject has developed, how and which terms and frameworks have been used, and how the occupational side of video content creation is researched and perceived in the studies.

It is clear, the four claim, that the increasing popularity and development of amateur video content creation can be seen in the growth of research interest on its commercial, strategic and occupational aspects. After all, the amount of research papers on the topic has increased significantly over the last five years. The various research papers pinpoint an interest in the realm of social interaction and behaviour involved in video content creation as well as on the media production aspects of it.

The study also points out how the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of the various research papers show fragmentation between the studies. Similarly, the terminology used for video content creation between the studies is fragmented. Some papers were found to have used various terms synonymously while describing the same activity. Though one could assume that a higher volume of research would improve the situation, the study found the opposite to be true. Used terminology reveals a fascinating observation as well – as terms representing the hybrid form of work and play, such as ‘amateur-expert’, can be found and could indicate how future hybrid forms of work might be represented. The numerous research papers also highlight how the handling of parasocial relationships and the audience is growing in importance in the pursuit of a career in video content creation and commercial gain.

The overall fragmentation found in the research and other outcomes of the study indicate a swift development in the occupational structures of video content creation. Yet, according to the study, it requires further research in order for more legitimate professional features and structures to develop within the digital environments and economies. Furthermore, the four scholars point out the need for more variety in research. They call for economic research on the structures of video content creation in different regions and within the digital spheres. Similarly, some research should focus on value creation, organizational structures, as well as managerial and entrepreneurial aspects of video content creation.

Streamers: the new wave of digital entrepreneurship? Extant corpus and research agenda

Maria Törhönen

Johann Giertz

Welf H. Weiger

Juho Hamari

Reference: Törhönen, Maria, Giertz, Johann, Weiger, Welf H., & Hamari, Juho (2021). Streamers: The new wave of digital entrepreneurship? Extant corpus and research agenda. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, v. 46, pp. 101027.

See the paper for full details:




Video content creation by “amateur” private users has taken on professional (i.e. work) characteristics. The emergence of user-centric video sharing services (e.g. YouTube, Twitch, Mixer) has set the scene for the rise of micro-celebrities and influencers making video content creation a valuable source of income. The development of occupational and commercial elements within the activity has gained a significant amount of attention from the mainstream media but also from academic research. This paper presents a literature review that aims to examine the nature of the available literature (75 articles) on the occupational characteristics of video content creation. The literature review examines the development of research and terminology of this topic, the theoretical and conceptual frameworks utilized in the examined research, and how the elements of work have been examined and perceived in the examined literature. The results reveal an ongoing development of entrepreneurial aspects in the activity and highlight the need for further research on video content creation in a work context.


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