“Remember to smash the like button”: community, content creation and Pokémon Go influencers as fan activists

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Social media and video platforms like YouTube and Twitch have become popular spaces for contemporary fandom, with multimedia franchises like Pokémon providing ample material for discussion, spoiler videos, livestreams, reviews, walkthroughs, travel vlogs, and the production of other fan made content. As a result, fans are integral components of the transmedia marketing and spread of popular media entertainment. At the same time, vloggers and influencers have used video sharing platforms to create their own brand identity, increasing their celebrity through content creation and sponsorship. Through a case study of some of the most popular Pokémon Go YouTubers and their content, this chapter analyses the role of the video influencer as fan activist; how they use their online platform to promote themselves and the mobile game, but also specific social issues and campaigns relevant to the fan community. While new media allows fans greater access to the Pokémon Go community, including game designer Niantic, their staff and the influencers themselves, the popularity of content creators on YouTube and Twitch highlights how hierarchies of fandom also characterise and influence Pokémon Go gameplay and the social practices that surround it. However, these hierarchies are not just based on notions of subcultural capital but also on the personality and appeal of the influencers themselves. The recent social media campaign #HearUsNianticAs, led by a number of influencers protesting unpopular changes to the game during the global COVID pandemic, reveals that professional fan status can be turned into a form of fan activism. Influencers are using their platforms to protest against Niantic’s recent decisions and create a subversive style of Pokémon Go play until their voices are heard. Therefore, this chapter argues that influencers are both professional fans and fan activists that occupy a liminal space between the community, Niantic, and the Pokémon company. Their brand identity as Pokémon Go content creators serves as conduit through which fan practices are enacted and validated, controversial issues are debated and protested, and digital media content is framed and spread.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPikachu’s Transmedia Adventures
Subtitle of host publicationThe Continuing Endurance and Adaptability of the Pokémon Franchise
EditorsRoss Garner, E. J. Nielsen
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 2022


  • Pokemon Go
  • YouTube
  • content creation
  • fandom
  • vlogging
  • influencers


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