Let’s go over the pros and cons of live stream audiences acting as rules judges during games.
In today’s competitive scene a lot of the larger tournaments are now showing games on Twitch or some other type of similar platform. It has really become something that almost any tournament worth it’s salt will have. Today many of us are a bit surprised if a tournament DOESN’T have at least one table that is being streamed live. For a lot of us it has actually replaced sporting events, music or other video channels that we may listen to or watch while we are building and painting our models. What has been happening through all this new form of media is that the audience is beginning to make judge calls during the game. Whether for better or for worse, this seems to be something that is not going away anytime soon. For this week I want to discuss the pros and cons of a viewership that could directly affect the game.
So let’s start with why it can be a good thing for the audience to kind of help out during a stream game. For clarity, please know that I have judged games that are on stream and also shoutcast for a number of events in the Midwest region of the United States. The audience is good as a second, or hundreds, set of eyes. Many times, depending on the size of the event, a judge may get distracted or called away for some reason, and may miss a crucial part of the game.
There are times where a player, or judge, is not sure about a rule and need a little help with the clarification of it. There have even been times where a player may have lost or misplaced a model or book, only for the audience to find it and let the stream know. There are even instances where viewers have caught players being less than honest with various aspects of the game and, as a result, penalties were applied to the offending player. Many watchers, players, and judges have felt that this has helped the game be better for both the event and viewers in general. There was even an instance in golf one year when a viewer called in to the event to let them know that a violation was committed. The event actually penalized the golfer because of it.
With all that said, there is always a flipside. There are still issues, especially if you rely on the mob too much. There have been instances where the comments get all riled up about a perceived cheating incident and becomes more of a mob. Many times it is not cheating at all but a misunderstanding due to the lighting of the room, the angle of the cameras, not seeing what happened earlier, among other things. This has caused an issue for some players as they become nervous about being on stream. This may sound as a good thing but when enough people don’t want to play on stream then there will be no one to watch or it won’t be the players that people want to see.
Some events now have to let players know that if they are asked to play on stream and they refuse, then they forfeit the game, if it is a finals or semifinals. The fear and nervousness of this seems to be causing some extra stress for some players, although some say that the extra stress would happen anyway as they advance in the tournament. Other issues are that the vitriol that are sometimes aimed at the judge, or judges, at the table because of an incorrect ruling that the judge made, whether it was justified or not. Sometimes players just don’t want to have to deal with the comments section of the stream and I sometimes don’t blame them.
What to Do?
So what can one do? As a judge, or event organizer, it is really your decision. You can totally ignore the stream comments, just as if they were playing out in the general population. You can also go the other extreme and hang on every word they say and do whatever they think needs to be done. I usually take a middle of the road approach. I will see the comments and judge what comments may have some merit and which ones are a little out there. I do this by looking at the game state and the players and determining if I need to intervene because of what was said in the comments. There are times where I will check on something, because of the comments, but not really say anything so as to not to disrupt the flow of the game. I think it is something that judges will be able to do as more and more game are being played on stream. There will be growing pains but in the end I think it will benefit the game as a whole.
~Well that’s all for this week. i hope you enjoyed the article. Let me know what you think, and if you have any stories from watching or playing on stream, in the comments section below.