Motivations for game stream spectatorship: a content analysis of Danmaku on Bilibili

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This article explores the motivations of viewers who watch Danmaku game streams on Bilibili, a Chinese streaming platform, by analysing Danmaku comments (弹幕, danmu). Drawing upon and extending findings from previous research, I establish a framework that synthesizes different types of Danmaku (emotion-expression, information, social, and entertainment) with viewer motivations (knowledge-sharing, entertaining, and communicating). To demonstrate how it works, this study employs content analysis based on virtual observation. After examining 37,331 Danmaku comments across 9 streams in three different categories (Esports, Speedrun, and Let’s Play), it is found that the primary motive for Danmaku game stream viewing is to communicate, and the distribution of motivations varies depending on the stream category. The article addresses a gap in the research of Chinese game streaming, providing empirical insights into the behaviours and motivations of viewers on these platforms. Danmaku is identified as a prominent feature of Chinese game streaming that offers a distinctive perspective for studying viewer motivations within the context of Chinese online video culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Media and China
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2023


  • danmaku
  • game studies
  • motivation
  • streaming media


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