Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

Major Professor

Kelly Hewett

Committee Members

Michael Haenlein, Jonathan Hasford, Annika Abell


While video games are generally viewed as a form of entertainment for a small subset of people, in reality they provide a channel for nearly 3.2 billion people to interact with others and offer multiple pathways for marketers to interact with consumers. Pair this alongside 140 million unique consumers who consumer nearly 24 billion hours of content on video game streaming platforms (VGSPs), such as Twitch, and there is a deep need for marketers to understand how to engage consumers in these environments. This dissertation provides a conceptualization of the video game ecosystem as well as the types of influencers on VGSPs, while highlighting important marketer-to-consumer interactions that occur through these platforms.

In the first essay, I provide a new framework called the video game ecosystem to show how video games can be leveraged as a marketing communication channel and how it differs from other popular channels, such as social media and television. Furthermore, I identify 7 testable propositions from the marketer’s perspective I believe will meaningfully direct the current marketing practice while shaping marketing research’s future including outlining the ways marketers should build and present content through this channel, highlighting marketer-consumer interactions unique to this ecosystem, and showcasing the potential ways firms can leverage the video game ecosystem in their marketing strategies. Finally, in this essay I present 12 future research areas to help kickstart marketing research in this domain.

In the second essay, I present a new conceptualization of influencer marketing through VGSPs. Specifically, I highlight how influencer-to-influencer (I2I), influencer-to-consumer (I2C), and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) relationships differ on VGSPs compared to traditional social media platforms, and how these relationships impact consumers downstream. I identify two unique types of influencers on VGSPs (video game streamers and esports athletes) and provide 6 novel propositions regarding the formation of social networks around these influencers. Finally, I provide 8 research areas to help shape the future of consumer research across multiple domains.

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