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Winner stays on is a slang term for a popular system whereby lots of people can take turns playing a Multiplayer game. Most multiplayer console games allow for 4 players, so if there are 6 people willing to play 2 people have to go without. Winner stays on works by 4 people playing a match and then the losing 2 (or however many are waiting to play) must give up their controllers to the waiting people. Then after another round of the game this is repeated.
The problems with this system (especially with a low amount of people) is that it's usually the couple of people who aren't as good at this particular game end up swapping a controller between them while the others stay on. This is usually addressed by the two top players trying to intentionally make each other lose for the "shame" of having to give up their controller.
"Winner stays on" is also very popular in Arcades. During the high time of Acrades a well sized group of people could be found in front of the Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter cabinets (and in the before, before time Space Invaders machines). Due to the cost of the games (currently varying prices from $.50 USD to $1.00 USD and sometimes higher) the casual gamer could look upon the eight year old kid with 1337 skills with wonder, shock, and fear.
- Person 1: "Let's play Super Smash Bros. Melee!"
- Person 2: "Yeah, it's winner stays on."
- Person 3: "hehe."
- Person 3: "But you guys are the best at it, it's just going to be me and Person 4 switching controllers."
- Person 2: "Not neccessarily."
- Person 1: "Stop whining."