Generally, each player and moderator is playing from a computer with a webcam and a dedicated headset. It is technically possible to play an online tournament from a smartphone, but we don’t recommend this except as a backup.
Computer: Any computer ought to work for a Discord tournament. All videoconferencing apps (including Discord) use a lot of system resources. It’s a good idea to close all background apps. If you have multiple different computers available, try to use the most powerful one.
Headset: Headsets are required for moderators. TDs, do not make any exceptions for this policy. Laptop microphones rarely work well for quizbowl. Players can get by without headsets but it’s still strongly encouraged.
Wired headsets are better than wireless headsets. These come in both USB and 3.5 mm varieties. If you are using a USB headset, ideally use a more recent one. If you need to purchase a headset, consider spending a little more for a gaming headset which is typically optimized to have lower latency. This headset that costs around $40 is one option.
If you have a hardware failure and need to fall back to a laptop microphone, ideally plug in any other headphones. No one on the call will have a good experience if you are using both a microphone and non-headphone speakers.
Webcam: If your computer does not have a built-in webcam, you’ll want to order one. Webcams were hard to come by in the beginning of the pandemic. They may be more available by the time you read this. You don’t necessarily need a fancy one for quizbowl purposes. Something like an Amazon Basic camera will work and costs about $35.
For the tournament, the webcam should be pointed at your face. The purpose of the webcam is to (a) make the tournament more personable and (b) discourage cheating. Like any video call, try to sit facing a window so you have good lighting.
9/27/20 Camera Update: Some tournaments are requiring stricter camera policies to discourage cheating. For instance, some tournaments require a camera to be pointed at your hands. Some require a camera positioned above and behind you so the moderator can see both your hands and your screen. In this case, a built-in laptop camera won’t work. You’ll want to purchase a web cam like above and a USB extension cable long enough to be positioned behind you. You shouldn’t need any mounting equipment beyond either tape or something heavy to prop up the camera on.
Internet: An ethernet connection is your best bet for an online tournament. This will have the lowest latency and most consistency. If this is not available, see if you can situate yourself close to your wifi router (if you have one).