So for those of you that don’t know who or what Riot Games is/are, they’re the makers of League of Legends. Abbreviated as LoL, the game itself has been covered by a few writers on this site before so I’ll spare you the whole back-story shenanigans. Basically League of Legends is a free to play MOBA game that has been gaining in popularity due to its e-sports appeal.

That is, until Riot Games kaiboshed the streaming of non-LoL games by their League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) players.

What’s this mean exactly? LCS players are smaller parts of a whole team that is backed financially by sponsors (Razer, ThermalTake, etc.) and ultimately paid to play LoL by Riot Games themselves. Paid by the development company to play their own game at a competitive level? Yep. Makes me wish I had more interest in MOBA-style games and a lot more free time on my hands, or that I was y’know… Korean. Kidding, sort of — those guys still tear people up in almost every game though, seriously.

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The rules basically state that every LCS player is explicitly prohibited from streaming any non-LoL game that is deemed “competition” in some varying degree. From what I’ve seen so far on a few lists this includes: Heroes of Newerth (this one makes sense), Dota 2 (this one too), Hearthstone (what?) and World of Warcraft (the fuck?). The list goes on I’m sure to include even more asinine titles from “rival” game companies. Makes sense right? I mean from a pure business standpoint, hell yes it does. It’s a straight up protection of investment, savvy? Is it really the best way to go about approaching the world of e-sports at such a young-ish age? Now this is the focal point of contention for me and ultimately allows me to play the position I love best: devil’s advocate.

When an NFL player leaves the locker or conference rooms they’re allowed to wear whatever logos they please

Since I do not follow any of these players that stream the game I can only guess that they most likely stream in the range of 8 to oh… I’d say maybe 12-14 hours a day without poop-socking it. You would think Riot would be lenient in just limiting them to only streaming LoL for those 8-12 hours. Unfortunately for the players, Riot wants these restrictions enforced at all times. So even in their off-hours these guys can’t stream anything non-LoL for fear of losing their paid positions on the teams, or whatever penalties Riot will come up with. Now I’m basing this entirely on nothing, but color me shocked if Riot doesn’t end up enforcing Player Seppuku for dishonoring their team. Now that’ll be some serious shit to watch come match time.

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Seppuku isn’t necessary, the scarf and pose are shameful enough.

While I disagree with the heavy handedness of the rules only on the premise that these guys should be allowed to stream whatever the hell they want on their off-hours — I am all too aware of the fact, that as a company Riot Games is allowed to do whatever they damn well please with their employees within the confines of ethical and humane treatment. If they’re not forcing these guys to play 16 hours a day for craptastic pay then who gives a flyin’ you-know-what? These guys are getting paid to play video games!

Sure it’s playing at an insanely high level of competition filled with stress and repetitive hand/arm movements that will lead to eventual arthritis and permanent gimpage (video gaming causes that? sure…)… but I’m almost 100% certain the compensation is worth giving up that dream of being the cubicle king — just banging away at your keyboard over the weekend so your bosses can take yet another vacation in the Bahamas while you’re stuck writing an article about a game you don’t even play. Note to the editors: I know you suckers are too broke to vacation in the Bahamas and while we don’t have an actual office, I feel the restraints of a Google chat box are my metaphorical cubicle, so ha — anyways, back to work. (Editor’s Note: The author’s attempts at garnering sympathy are more misguided than panhandlers with dogs.)

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How do you mock that which has no shame?

I’ll draw some comparisons to something that I know more about than LoL, the National Football League (NFL). The NFL itself is endorsed league-wide by Nike (uniforms, cleats, wristbands, you name it). If players are caught wearing attire that isn’t affiliated with Nike or NFL approved sponsors when involved in any commercialized NFL broadcast (this includes pre-game warm ups, the actual games themselves, post-game news conferences and the like) they are fined for it. Of course these fines aren’t anything more than a drop in the bucket when you’re making millions of dollars; at worst you’ll have a player break their agreement and get fined because they want to bring awareness to a certain cause or charity they’re supporting, while others just want to rebel once in a while. However, the NFL doesn’t enforce the strict Nike/NFL Sponsor approved logos dress code during off-hours; once these guys leave the locker/conference rooms they’re allowed to wear whatever logo-baring attire they please. Although I wish sometimes in press-conferences they would enforce such rules like… don’t let your wife dress you:

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Jesus Jimminy Christcakes what the Hell IS that?!

The world of e-sports is still very young and impressionable. I hope that Riot doesn’t set a precedent with these new iron-fisted rules, despite how logical they may be from a business standpoint. Game companies are in the business of making money and ultimately a lot of decisions will forever continue to be made from a purely financial perspective, despite how passionately we as gamers and even consumers may disagree with them. In all seriousness, these e-sport athletes and streamers a-like put in a lot of work, time, and dedication to honing their various crafts and should be compensated as such. Despite the money potentially being pretty good, if these guys aren’t happy with the way things are going and their love is streaming and competing in a multitude of games then they should do what they’re passionate about. The money will come either way if they work hard enough at it.

Do you believe Riot Games is in the right? Do you feel the players should still be paid to play LoL AND stream other games in their off time? Want to play devil’s advocate alongside me? Want to answer my questions with a question?! Sound off in the comments below and let your opinions or questions be heard!

Note: Since this article was written, Riot Games has reversed their policy on restricting players from streaming other games.