A patent has been granted to Sony that will allow spectators of a game to vote to remove players.
The patent, titled 'Spectators Vote to Bench Players in a Video Game' and viewable here, will allow viewers to vote or pay to have a player removed, or send a custom message.
The patent specifies Twitch as an example of how spectators can view live streamed games, citing the increased interest in streaming and esports as a reason for developers to find new ways to enhance the viewing experience.
Viewers would be given access to a menu alongside the stream that would include options to remove (or "bench") players, warn the player to improve, provide a custom message, or keep a player in the game.
The patent specifies that custom message could be feedback or a warning regarding the player's performance - it does not mention positive encouragement.
A player would only be removed if voting reaches above a certain threshold - a suggested 60 percent. There would also be a weighting system, with a more skilled spectator having greater impact on the vote. That skill level would be determined by the spectator's game level, statistics or accomplishments in the game.
Spectators would also be able to pay money to remove a player, be it through real money, in-game currency, or cryptocurrency.
The patent is in-line with Sony's move into esports, following its acquisition of the Evolution Championship Series earlier this year.
However, the amount of negative sentiment such a system would generate is significant. At the very least, it's a system based on negative feedback more than positivity.
At its worst, the system would likely be abused and flooded with racism, misogyny and homophobia - especially in the competitive world of esports that's too often polluted by toxic trash talk.
And on Twitch, where marginalised streamers suffer from hate raids and a toxic community, the last thing that's needed is a system to heighten and enable that further.
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