It’s fair to say that many viewers were disappointed with the results of OTK Schooled’s Season 2 Finale. For one of the most popular collaborative events on Twitch — a game show for streamers, by streamers, often compared to Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? — it was a sad result, seeing yet another episode tarnished because of cheating.
Even more disappointing was OTK Schooled’s creator and host Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo announcing he has no desire or plans to make more episodes, telling his Twitch audience, "[It's] sad because I really want to make good shows but I just can't do this anymore. I'm over it. That was it. I'm done with this show."
Many viewers and streamers were saddened by this news, considering how much potential the show displayed in its two-season run. There have already been a number of solutions brought up on how OTK Schooled can continue while also combatting cheating — some good and some bad. Here are a few of the ways OTK Schooled can continue, along with the importance the show has for streaming overall.
Love the lie
Some have challenged Mizkif’s idea that the cheating scandals are a problem to begin with. The streams are supposed to be entertaining, and if some people find the cheating funny, what’s the problem?
While it might create some notoriety in the short term, the creators’ vision for the show is compromised if substantial measures aren’t taken to prevent cheating. When asked about the subject on stream, Mizkif said, “Yeah, it [the scandal] hypes it up for a couple days. Yes, it’s interesting for the next episode. But the integrity of the show is completely ruined.”
A fair question is: why does the integrity of the show matter? With all the participants being streamers just looking to have some fun, you can certainly argue that the credibility of a streaming quiz show isn’t a big deal. However, there is another point of view: that even if it’s not the most serious competition, integrity is vital to a competition reaching its full potential.
The question then becomes, would as many people watch if there was going to be cheating every time, and it turned into a contest for who can Google the answer the best? Maybe, but many would not, being turned off by the lack of intrigue and tension. For a better explanation, consider what journalist Declan Hill — one of the world’s leading experts on match-fixing and corruption in international sports — had to say on how legitimacy is what keeps people engaged in a competition:
“Every single sport in the world — from tiddlywinks to…Counter-Strike: Global Offensive…is based on this kernel of credibility. That you actually have to believe — as a fan, as an enthusiastic participant...as a sponsor, tournament organizer — the participants are trying their hardest. So that even if they screw up, that’s alright. At least he was trying, or she was trying. As soon as you remove that, as soon as you remove that fundamental credibility from a sport, people are like, ‘You know what? I can watch Netflix. Why would I watch your theater?’”
There is also another, more basic reason that integrity matters in this specific case, that being the emotional response of the creator to the cheating scandals. While it may bring contestants a little bump in attention every time EE or other creator is called out, it’s very obvious Mizkif has no desire to make Schooled if it is plagued by cheats, and can’t maintain a level of integrity.
OTK Schooled Live
A suggestion many (including Mizkif’s colleague Ludwig Aghren) have made is doing the show in-person — something similar to Ludwig’s Mogul Money. The suggestion has numerous advantages: more engaging production, the opportunity to include a live audience, and (most importantly) much tighter control. If you need more evidence for why a live format makes cheating much harder — just look at the fact that Mogul Money did not have a single major scandal as proof of this.
Of course, there are many drawbacks to this idea, especially if the show continues in its current format. Ignoring the many costs of creating a good production, having it in person could also be a logistical nightmare. Mizkif addressed this idea, stating, “Maybe, but I don’t want to do a one-time thing. I wanna do a long steam [event] — like eight weeks [...] they’re busy. No streamers are gonna come on my f*cking show if I ask them to come out. Ludwig’s doing a one-time thing for a reason. Because he knows he can get us out one f*cking time.”
Though Mogul Money didn’t have any cheating scandals, the show had a far less ambitious format: six episodes with three guests each, versus Schooled’s nine episodes with eight guests each. That’s not even taking into account that Ludwig is based in Los Angeles (arguably the main hub for content creators) while Mizkif is located in the smaller Austin area. Once the pool of Austin streamers is exhausted, the only option would be to ask streamers to fly out — a tall order for the bigger talents.
And now their watch begins
The trickiest — but arguably most practical solution — is to increase the standards of proctoring, as the technology already exists to prevent cheating to a reasonable degree. OTK made some attempts at this by having contestants face away from their computer screens, but clearly, recent headlines have shown the most determined cheats have found a way to circumvent that.
The most common solution brought up was to have streamers install webcams behind themselves, so any cheating could be easily spotted. Mizkif was quick to shoot down this idea, stating, “Who’s gonna really do that for me? Who’s gonna take hours out of their day to set up a camera, to get that stuff so that way OBS has the correct camera for everything, so that way everything works — no one’s gonna do it, dude. It’s almost impossible to get them in the f*cking call at 2 o’clock every single time, let alone to have them set up a camera that could take hours.”
Considering Mizkif’s experience as a streamer, we should trust his contention. However, are there ways to up the integrity without making it too complicated for the streamers? For example, there is a precedence of using one’s phone as a camera. Yes, having guests set up another webcam across the room that runs in line with OBS could take hours. But having guests use their phone to FaceTime an OTK staff member, and lean it against a wall or a stack of books would be much faster and easier.
In theory, as long as OTK staff is able to monitor it, that should be enough to add integrity to the show. On top of that, proctoring software has proven effective in many industries and could be of help if used in tandem with additional cameras. You can still argue that streamers would be too lazy to do this, but if people were willing to fly from all over for The Streamer Awards, does it really seem unlikely streamers wouldn’t accept an extra 10 minutes of preparation to be part of an event that regularly garners viewership a third the size of The Streamer Awards, and has a $50k prize?
Take what was said here with a grain of salt. Realistically, only Mizkif and his team know if continuing the show is possible, but if the ideas proffered here today increase the chances of Schooled surviving by one scintilla, it’s worth it. It’s more than one of the most entertaining shows on Twitch, it’s one of the greatest collaborative efforts in streaming — an opportunity for the industry to become a more friendly and cooperative place.
Sure, on the surface it's just a parody of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? But as Mizkif explains, it’s also so much more than that. For years, the Twitch landscape was very isolated for creators. A select group of creators, though, have been pushing to make the industry a more embracing and collaborative environment — something I believe leads to better content, and streamers that are less likely to burn out because of a more hospitable space.
Schooled is one of the events leading that charge, and it’d be a shame if we lost it.
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