@The-Atog-Lord said in MTGO Outside Assistance:

For what it's worth, I never talk to anyone during VSL matches. I shut down chats and don't check anything while I am playing in that (outside of the chat that coordinates the games).

@ajfirecracker said in MTGO Outside Assistance:

So you recognize that there is some sort of fairness principle at play?

This FTW

I'm reluctant to post in this thread because I'm obviously biased. It's hard for me to trust my own objectivity in this matter, so I accept that it would be much harder for someone else to.

I'm a little surprised how many people are just accepting that this is an ethical problem and jumping straight to a discussion about enforceability. I might just be compartmentalizing, but I don't see it.

I understand why someone would be upset to lose to a team of vintage players when they don't have access to a team of vintage players. I also understand why someone would be upset to lose to someone who could afford expensive cards when they didn't have access to those cards. This is unfortunate, but it's not cheating and it's not unethical.

I'm reminded of "cheesy strategies" from Sirlin's Playing to Win, and a tournament I went to once where the TO thought IDs were unethical and required everyone to play out all of their matches. When a ruleset is agreed upon ahead of time (which is what you're doing when you pay your entry fee), it's hard to argue that playing within those rules is unethical ... with the exception of things that would be unethical in any context, like physically threatening someone for a concession. (here "collaborating to make effective decisions" is not something considered always unethical). By the rules as we can infer from Wizards, MTGO is a team vs team game, where teams contain an arbitrary number of players.

It is, however, totally fair to decide that a given ruleset is unbalanced or unfun, though I think the term unfair isn't helpful here. This mindset gives us actionable steps and stops us from getting too mired in a fight over semantics. If the current ruleset - the one where WotC obviously doesn't care about team play, isn't fun, there are steps we can take to try and help. Player-run tournaments can have any ruleset they want, including "no teams", "no streaming", or "no streaming without a delay". We can ask WotC to clarify or change their stance on team play.

This is exactly why I campaigned to promote proxy-legal events back when they were unpopular 10 years ago. I felt that the official game, the one where most people can't afford a deck, was unbalanced and less fun because of that. Proxy Vintage is a player-run format with an similar but alternate ruleset that I personally find more interesting/challenging/entertaining (not everyone agrees with this, but not everyone agrees with any rules change).

For what it's worth I would no longer stream or play vintage online if Wizards took a hard stance on this. It's just less fun for me when I'm not playing with my friends or interacting with a stream - but that's fine, if the majority of players would be happier with a rules change, it's probably for the best.

We could think of ethical rules for streaming...
alt text

There's two things you guys are going around with. The first one, that everyone agrees with, is that enforcement is totally impossible.

The second one, that there seems to be some debate about, is whether there is an ethical question involved. I'm not even sure there is. MTGO has, from the get-go, never had any rules against outside assistance. Originally this was probably because of no enforcement capabilities, but whatever the reason, it happened. So, people play within the rules. It's the same as any other game. Would you complain if your StarCraft opponent had a friend in the room helping them remember the build order...?

And, as Steven discussed, it helps the community by giving people a stream to come to and cheer or argue over plays.

last edited by MaximumCDawg

I brought this up last time we had a similar thread, but the original EULA/Terms of Use/whatever for MTGO did indeed disallow outside assistance. I know this because when my dad signed lil baby McAra up for an account on day 1, I was the kind of weird kid that read the entire document before clicking I Agree, because thats what I was supposed to do as a conscientious Internet Citizen.

Also, back in the day, way back when, a few streamers mentioned WotC contacting them about videos or broadcasts of MTGO, where they would ask for verbal confirmation that 'the plays made were based entirely on your own decision-making process" or something like that. I think Kenji/Numot talked about this at one point?

Would be interesting to learn if that stipulation is still buried in all those words, if anyone cares enough to scrub through it with a Ctrl-F.

it's about ethics in video game streaming

I for one would prefer if players stream . Having read this thread I think most of my pre-conceptions were wrong - I thought having the chat on your side gives you some edges. However much of the information that might by provided by the chat can be looked up and if you are so inclined you could set up a bot to look up the information to save time .

The one possible exception (and maybe I'm also wrong on this) is the innocuous what is my opponent on? Yes you can look up what they've played in recent tournament, but if someone in chat knows what your opponent is actually on as they faced them in a previous round this can hugely influence mulligan, turn 1 play. Is there anyway of finding our what your opponent is on - can you review previous rounds while the tournament is underway?

last edited by Prospector

@MaximumCDawg said in MTGO Outside Assistance:

The second one, that there seems to be some debate about, is whether there is an ethical question involved. I'm not even sure there is. MTGO has, from the get-go, never had any rules against outside assistance. Originally this was probably because of no enforcement capabilities, but whatever the reason, it happened. So, people play within the rules. It's the same as any other game. Would you complain if your StarCraft opponent had a friend in the room helping them remember the build order...?

In normal friendly play, no, but in a tournament I think yes. It's extremely common for videogame tournaments (even online) to restrict communication more harshly than friendly play does. e-Sports events routinely restrict "coaching" during a match. The fighting game community, for example, has explicit rules at most tournaments which restrict "coaching" to a single person and only between full games.

@Prospector said in MTGO Outside Assistance:

The one possible exception (and maybe I'm also wrong on this) is the innocuous what is my opponent on? Yes you can look up what they've played in recent tournament, but if someone in chat knows what your opponent is actually on as they faced them in a previous round this can hugely influence mulligan, turn 1 play. Is there anyway of finding our what your opponent is on - can you review previous rounds while the tournament is underway?

No, they eliminated that ability a couple years ago

last edited by ajfirecracker

@Prospector

MAGIC ONLINE USER AGREEMENT
http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/magic-online-user-agreement

2.2 Tournaments and Events.
(iii) Collusion A player or players working together to gain an unfair competitive advantage in an event. An example of collusion includes sharing knowledge of draft picks with other players of an event during the drafting portion of that event.

When a player stumbles and looks like someone who doesn't know what to do next AND his friend or friends tell him what to do and direct him so this player wins, I personally consider this as gaining an unfair competitive advantage.

Since MTGO is a game with prizes that have monetary value, this "ethical" issue can quickly evolve into a legal one.

P.S. Recently watched infant_no_1, ajfirecracker, and OriginalOestrus playing (I watch only recorded games) and had no any reasons to suspect them in any unethical behavior. So the issue of getting outside assistance has nothing to do with streaming itself, but with judgment of each individual player.

last edited by Chronatog

I think the collusion rules here are too ambiguous. The tricky bit here is whether 'player' refers to 'a player in this event' or 'someone who has played magic before' (obviously it doesn't refer to Tennis players). The example which references two players in the same draft doesn't clarify anything.

I understand that it's hard for me to be objective here, and I'm interpreting the ambiguity in a way that benefits me. Qualitatively, I don't think there's a difference between getting advice from Twitch chat and getting advice from a co-streamer. The quality of advice can vary, but they're both outside assistance. It's impossible to stream without getting advice from Twitch chat, even if you opt not to use it. Wizards is very clear about being pro-streaming (explicitly mentioned in the user agreement, how-to-stream videos on wizards.com, and Worth dropping by my stream, while I had a co-streamer, to give me some cards.) To me this feels like tacit approval - but maybe I'm just be seeing what I want to see.

If wizards were to explicitly make a statement about playing with friends, or wrote to me privately like McAra mentioned, I'd have no choice but to stop.

@Chronatog Collusion would be multiple players entered, you cant collude with someone who isnt also a participant

Rich's run this past weekend definitely featured advice from another player in the same event. If that is enough to trigger the collusion rule, there is no doubt about whether it occurred.

@ajfirecracker you cant collude with outsiders. You can collude with other participants, you could collude with wotc staff, you cant collude with a disinterested party (your friend standing behind you). The whe concept of collusion is interested parties working together.

@rikter Yes, and there is zero question as to whether Rich received advice from an "interested party". He did. At least one of the players providing advice in-person was in the same event, told the stream he was in the same event, and streamed games from the same event.

@ajfirecracker Well thats a different case entirely. I think outside assistance is fine, which is what I thought this whole thing was about. Maybe I missed it in all these posts. Multiple registrants sharing info is probably collusion, which is a ToS violation.

last edited by rikter

@rikter Scouting is incredibly common in paper events. Players with byes will walk around and record player and deck information into an excel sheet, which they and their teammates consult when pairings go up before moving to their seats. This isn't considered collusion - collusion is more the manipulation of match results or drafts towards a specific outcome. Even if you wanted to ban scouting from paper and online Magic, how far would you go? Would you DQ players for chatting about their games in between rounds? What you stop covering events because it gives certain players a disadvantage? Would you put screens up in between matches so players can't look at what's happening around them?

The integrity of a game is important but it's not of the utmost importance. Logistics matter. Promoting the game and the format matters. For many players and spectators, learning and improving as players matters. @ajfirecracker You coached Oestrus on stream to a 4-0 finish in a daily. She literally did not make game actions until you chimed in. This directly impacted the players in that event and I'm guessing you didn't give it a second thought at the time. Rather than focus on your hypocrisy, I would rather focus on what was gained from streaming. She learned, you and the other viewers got entertainment out of the experience, and the vintage and online community benefited from an additional player and content contributor. I stream occasionally and intend to continue because I believe it benefits the community as a whole and is something I enjoy. At the same time, I accept that players may be streaming against me or ghosting.

@ChubbyRain Any comparison to paper magic is off the mark, its apples and oranges. The blurb about collusion in the ToS specifically mentions sharing draft picks, as this type of information sharing can lead to a competitive advantage. In a MTGO tournament setting, talking with your buddy who is also playing in the event gives you inside information on decks and players that can give you a competitive advantage. Under the rules as written, I would say that meets the collusion standard. The fact that this is allowable in a paper setting is irrelevant.

Now, could you enforce that? Really tough. The only people getting hit up for that, I would guess, are people trying to buy match wins for tix and such, and only if they use the client chat.

@Brass-Man I watched your stream and I personally don't think that you were intentionally soliciting help. Perhaps, closer to the end, when you got a bit tipsy and in your frustration you kind of gave up on the game, your friends were telling you what to do. And it did look like they were playing instead of you. But overall they looked more like annoyance and distraction and you were nice enough not to send them away or tell them to be quiet; and they weren't perceptive enough to realize that they were distracting you. That's it.

Was it an intentional attempt to get any advantage? I don't think so. I think it was just poor judgment about the overall situation. Not a big deal. We all make mistakes. We learn from them and move on. We just don't repeat them and avoid any visibility and perception of unsporting behavior. Perception matters. It takes years to build reputation and a few seconds to ruin it.

Defensiveness is what really doesn't help in this situation and makes it worse. It's natural for all of us to become very defensive when our best efforts and good intentions result in something negative. Married life usually teaches how to resolve such situations quickly - listen and try to understand the other side. I guess you lack this experience (I mean married life), so you had less practice :).

And finally, about ambiguity. I guess WotC made it ambiguous enough so it had discretion to act upon each individual case. So I wouldn't expect any specific explanation from the company. Just use your common sense and good judgment. You don't need anyone to explicitly tell you that you shouldn't steal, right? You just know it and have your own moral compass.

Sorry for all this rumbling and mumbling. I was quite upset because of this situation as I was thinking about trying MTGO to be able to play Magic more often than once in a blue moon. So I found some videos to watch and to see the system and observe players, and some things I saw weren’t very encouraging for joining the game (I refer to a stream with two kids in lab coats). Anyway, if I sound patronizing, please don’t take it personally.

last edited by Chronatog

I just don't know why this really matters. I see two situations.

  1. Your playing an event and you can see your opponent on stream which really is the only way you know there might be outside assistance in a match other than your opponent telling you. In this situation you have delayed but perfect information, which they don't have so it seems to me the playing field is even. Most streamers have less than 30 second delay which really isn't hindering unless you're playing a full control deck.

  2. Any other time. You do not know who is behind there monitor. There is no point stressing about it as you don't and can't know, It shouldn't stop you from playing your best game.

To the viewers does it matter, how do you know the person not streaming in the match doesn't have a buddy with him. And honestly most streamers that have a 2nd person there have a more entertaining stream.

Everyone has the same internet browsing capabilites for finding decklists.

I've pulled out a calculator as well to work out the odds of pulling out a certain card or three of the top of the deck. Is that unethical if my opponent doesn't have a calculator?

last edited by Supertimland

@Supertimland said in MTGO Outside Assistance:

I just don't know why this really matters. I see two situations.

  1. Your playing an event and you can see your opponent on stream which really is the only way you know there might be outside assistance in a match other than your opponent telling you. In this situation you have delayed but perfect information, which they don't have so it seems to me the playing field is even. Most streamers have less than 30 second delay which really isn't hindering unless you're playing a full control deck.

  2. Any other time. You do not know who is behind there monitor. There is no point stressing about it as you don't and can't know, It shouldn't stop you from playing your best game.

To the viewers does it matter, how do you know the person not streaming in the match doesn't have a buddy with him. And honestly most streamers that have a 2nd person there have a more entertaining stream.

Everyone has the same internet browsing capabilites for finding decklists.

I've pulled out a calculator as well to work out the odds of pulling out a certain card or three of the top of the deck. Is that unethical if my opponent doesn't have a calculator?

You know your computer has a calculator program right?

@Islandswamp I'm assuming not everyone knows haha, and by pulling out a calculator I mean going to my task bar.

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