Eric Johnson

Recent Posts by Eric Johnson

Twitch Takes Up Cat Herding With Ban on PlayStation 4′s Playroom

cat herderHow did no one see this coming?

The PlayStation 4 has an optional camera accessory, games that use that camera, and the option to stream any game live to the Internet via the popular gaming-video service Twitch. Put those three ingredients together, let simmer for a week, and boom: Naked people, among other things.

First, Twitch was banning individual users for inappropriate video content and comments in their livestreams. Now it has removed The Playroom, the fun PlayStation Camera demo game bundled with every PS4, from its directory.

Twitch’s terms of service explicitly say that it’s only for game content, and I can’t think of a less-bad option for dealing with users who ignore that. But what happens when games that aren’t just hardware demos come along and are similarly abused?

A Twitch spokesperson said content is “always gauged on a case by case basis” according to those terms. A “majority” of users streaming The Playroom were using it for “non-gaming related” content, according to a company statement.

But, even if one person using a console has read (hah!) and agreed to the terms of service, one of the differences between consoles and personal computers — Twitch’s longtime stomping ground — is that they’re designed to be used by many people in various combinations at different times. Entering the living room and expecting everyone to pretend they’re alone at a desk is not a sound strategy as social gamecasting matures.

Although initially planned for launch, as it was on the PS4, Microsoft delayed Twitch streaming on its competing next-gen console, the Xbox One, until Q1 2014.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work