For the first point, I actually meant Episode 23 (Dave Stewart). I wasn't entirely clear on the tournament style, as this format is entirely new to me, but I heard mention of the prizes for winning or placing high in some of these earlier tournaments being entries to later, bigger tournaments that you'd normally have to pay more to enter. (Unless I misinterpreted or had forgotten something.) There was also mention of a limit of 2 entries an individual can win (from winning 2 of the smaller competitions, I'm guessing), under the idea that if there were more, some people would hoard these entries to give to their friends.
That's why I threw out the more sinister possibility of people hoarding entries to a tournament to block other people from entering. When he talked about reasons why there is a cap of 2 entries, that's what immediately sprung to mind as I had experienced that practice myself. The people who did that were incredibly unfriendly jerks though. (They were also obviously no fun to play against--they were VERY serious and disgruntled-looking people who would attempt to psychologically provoke you into making mistakes.) The impression I get from pinball competitions in Seattle is that they are all friendly events with friendly competitors, and anyone who behaves as selfishly as that will likely not last long and be rejected from the community as a whole.
For the second point, thanks for the explanation. Yeah, it confused me about seating, if it meant bar seating or something else. To be honest, prior to pinball, many of the competitions of various things I entered were more like what I described above. If there were communities, they were cliques, who behave condescendingly to non-members and will do anything to let one of their own win. That's why I was so shocked to see pinball competitions so full of nice people. They will even teach people how to play these games! And they'll teach them right! And frankly, I have difficulty adjusting to this difference. I have been so accustomed to closely guarding everything I know and putting up mental defenses against gamesmanship techniques. There'd be nowhere to sit to spectate and chat because the people who run these tournaments are well aware of the nature of their competitors (and they'll just sit on the floor or something regardless).
There's a minor thing I want to say about Episode 28 (Dan Halligan), and it is just a really small thing. Dan refers to, if I recall correctly, River City Ransom as a fighting game. Technically, it is a beat-em-up game, not a fighting game. A beat-em-up game has the player character fighting large amounts of weak enemies, and occasionally, stronger boss characters, and the goal is usually to get from Point A to Point B. Multiplayer in beat-em-up games are almost always cooperative. Examples, in addition to RCR, are The Simpsons (the Capcom game), Bad Dudes, God of War, and Dynasty Warriors. A fighting game, on the other hand, has the player character fight one single opponent of comparable strength in a small self-contained space, with the goal being to win a certain number of rounds by depleteing the opponent's health before the opponent can do the same. Multiplayer in a fighting game is usually head-to-head, though cooperative multiplayer comes up pretty often. Famous examples of fighting games include Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur, Tekken, and some will say Super Smash Bros.
An easy way to distinguish them is as such: Can you play as most or all of your enemies? If so, it's a fighting game. Otherwise, it's something else.