A Heart So True? Fame, Relationality, & Personalized Media Production in Pokémon GO

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


A Heart So True? Fame, Relationality, & Personalized Media Production in Pokémon GO

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


This dissertation broadly asks how content creators are building relationships with their audience that foster continued financial support as well as how content creators are navigating shifting platform ecologies that promote or hinder monetizing their content and relationships. By incorporating a digital ethnographic and case study approach, I ask what are the various relational labor strategies that Pokémon GO influencers and microcelebrities engage in order to create and maintain a financially supportive gaming fanbase across platforms? Concretely, I am concerned with the interaction of neoliberal ideology and platform capitalism and how they shape future and current influencer’s labor strategies within the Pokémon GO gaming community. As such, my project expands the influential work of Arlie Hochschild, Nancy Baym, and Jan Padios to think through the shift from emotional labor to relational labor when there is a mandate to build profitable friendships with one’s audience. Relational labor is the “ongoing, interactive, affective, material, and cognitive work of communicating with people over time to create structures that can support continued work” (Baym, 2018, 19). In her work about Philippines call centers, Jan Padios defines relational labor as “the labor required to positively identify with, signal proximity to, and effectively communicate with others, particularly in ways that meet the demands of capital (2018, 9). Here, relational labor is referring to how the worker (or creators for the sake of this dissertation) interact with their audience or clients rather than being trained by corporations.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2021. Major: Feminist Studies. Advisors: Aren Aizura, Laurie Ouellette. 1 computer file (PDF); 257 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Guarriello, Nicholas-Brie. (2021). A Heart So True? Fame, Relationality, & Personalized Media Production in Pokémon GO. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/250056.

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.