Video Games, Streaming, And Consent. AKA Hundreds Of Thousands Of Strangers Keep Seeing Me Get Owned Online

Hi there, my name is LaSauce, you might know me from my posting in the forums. You might also know me from a league of legends clip on Reddit where I die unceremoniously in the background as a teammate of mine plays terribly. You might also know me from a Shroud stream two nights ago where he gunned me and my entire team down in Apex Legends. Realistically, you probably don’t, probably no one does. Both of these clips were seen by hundreds of thousands of people for quick entertainment, then just as quickly forgotten. No one has recognized me, found me, or hassled me in anyway cause of these clips.

That said I think it’s actually incredibly shitty and I wish neither had happened.

Streaming is messy, everyone knows this. It’s a feast or famine job, Twitch doesn’t seem terribly interested in changing that, and a lot of popular streamers are problematic to say the least. What I personally haven’t seen other people talk about is how lacking in consent it is. People in multiplayer games don’t have a say on if they will or won’t appear on stream. If one player in a game is streaming, then every other player has an audience whether they like it or not.

Multiplayer games and Twitch should really start taking this into consideration and I think that gamers should make start asking for solutions to this, but that said I’m honestly not sure what the solution to this would be. I’m interested in hearing y’alls thoughts on this subject and possible solutions.

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I know that some games (including Apex, I believe) have a “streamer mode” that obfuscates other players’ names onscreen, so when the streamer encounters enemy players, it just says “Bangalore203” or “Gibraltar535” or something like that. If games could force mode like that when the player is streaming, that would address this particular issue I think? It would come down to a logistical issue of how to automatically force that type of name censorship. If nothing else, the presence of a mode like that at least shows steps being taken to address this kind of consent problem, I guess.

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I’ve never thought of this angle before, but yeah, this is probably going to be a legal nightmare in a couple years.

Also, in much the same way that a funny tweet is used in an article, do people who, knowingly or not, play Fortnite with Ninja (Is he still relevant? The shelf life on these dudes is, like, days) contribute to the success of a stream? If so, what are they entitled to?

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A fairly straightforward way to extend that to individual consent (without requiring the streamer to play along) is a flag that shows your handle that way to anyone not on your friends list. Yes, this might make it harder to make ingame friends, but it removes the dependency on protecting your privacy from the bad actor.

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I don’t know if I’d say that each player is entitled to anything for playing with a streamer without knowing, (although I could probably be swayed), my issue is more that I want to know whose success I am in a small way contributing to.

I don’t WANT To play with Ninja, I don’t WANT to contribute to someone who won’t stream with women! I WANT to know if I’m playing with Ninja so I can stop doing so immediately!!!

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For sure this is better than nothing, but my issue with this is that people are still made a part of the stream, just made anonymous. I think people should have the real option to just not show up in a game with a streamer. People should be able to say no don’t broadcast me to thousands without my knowing.

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I think this is an issue that’s just going to become increasingly prevalent as more and more games not only become more multiplayer focused but also chase the streamer wave that games like Fortnite, Dota, or Pubg thrive on.

I feel like the relative newness of this phenomenon means we’ve yet to standardise and truly investigate how to better people’s privacy in online games. It can take one tiny call to action from a combative streamer to sic a huge audience onto your user profile (especially relevant if you use the same name everywhere).

Opting out of being displaced publicly for other non-friend players would be a good step instead of being left up to the good graces of the streamer to turn on streamer mode, and I hope more online games continue to pursue solutions for it.

Frankly I hadn’t given it any real thought before you brought this up in the Apex thread, and as an aspiring dev that’ll certainly be in my mind from now on.

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This idea of consent is an interesting concept to think about, and I imagine from a legal perspective there may not be a case to impose consent. There’s the idea of “reasonable expectation of privacy” that comes from case law that I think applies here. This means that you

  1. You as an individual believe you have a subjective right to privacy
  2. That society recognizes your expectation as reasonable.
    (from Katz v US)

I bring this up because the streaming companies have no legally compelling reason to force consent to be obtained. A legal definition of consent would be helpful to force them to do this. Which means it’s time to start demanding it.

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Yeah…I hadn’t really considered this before, this could potentially become a big issue down the road.

Not quite the same situation, but I’ve thought about this before in relation to video capture. I feel this area gets a little trickier because anyone essentially could capture footage while playing with you, now that consoles have that built-in gameplay capture functionality, and then easily upload that footage (just today, I uploaded a video from Apex Legends, and my teammates and opponents names are clearly visible :grimacing:). It’s a toughie, and I don’t really know what can be done outside of obscuring names…

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Lots of countries have laws, where, if you’re in public, I don’t think you have a particular right to not have your face used, in say the newsreel of a report. I suspect this would fall under similar laws, if eventually pressed?

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This was exactly what I was going to cite. “Doing stuff in public” is already considered to be, in many jurisdictions, implicitly accepting that you might turn up on someone’s video of events (incidentally or otherwise). “Doing stuff in public on the internet” might be considered a special case of that.

I think this is actually a really important topic. It’s been bugging me for a while.

I think it became especially noticeable when I was watching someone stream sea of thieves to an audience of a few hundred people. Of course, there was voice chat in the game, and the streamer ended up on a ship with three other people, two of whom were clearly children, possibly preteens.

The streamer was not using voice chat, and made no attempt to communicate to these people that he was streaming, and essentially rebroadcasted children who believed they were having a semi-private conversation to a somewhat large audience. The streamer was commenting on things the children said, finding them funny or cute. I just found it incredibly uncomfortable.

Those kids had no idea that hundreds of people were listening to them, or that there’s now a permanent video recording of it, and that seems really messed up? I brought it up in chat, curious to see the streamer’s perspective, and they basically just said, “everyone does this, you should expect you could be being broadcast if you’re playing an online game.” I feel like there has to be a better answer than that.

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Years ago I got killed in CoD and the person sent me a PM saying they made a YouTube video of their match and “you are in it” - Not really offering me an option to be in it or not, but I thought it was nice to let me know (unless it was meant as a brag/power move).

I hadn’t really thought of these sort of things much but you brought up an interesting point; I’m going to give this some thought.