“Go kill yourself.”
Ah, gamer bullying.
It’s been around for such a long time in many different forms. I’m not sure if the war on bullying can truly be won (at least, not for a while). I was catching up on some Drama Mamas this morning on WoW Insider. The topic was about a player from Moonguard and the problems they go through because of the “taint” that the server reputation has. Because of that player’s association, they get crapped on in whatever cross server activities that participate in (Raid finder, battlegrounds, etc).
Like literally, virtual crap from other players being dumped all over them.
I don’t generally write about social commentary stuff. It’s not my strongest topic. While I have my own opinions about different facets of the community, I’m not the greatest at articulating them.
The WoW gaming community can be one of the most toxic ones out there. There’s a ton of name calling and verbal abuse that goes on. When I see it, I make an effort to report it. When I’m the recipient, you damn well know that I’m going to both report and submit a ticket to help ensure it gets looked at. Like others, I get disillusioned because of Blizzard’s policies about withholding the consequences.
Is my report actually being looked at?
What’s going to happen to the player?
More importantly, am I wasting my damn time?
Without knowing the reward, I don’t know if it’s worth the effort which leads me to presume that it’s ineffective because I’ll run into that player again later on with no change to what they’re saying or how they’re behaving.
A different approach
Instead of squashing negative behaviour we decide to encourage positive behaviour?
Maybe a “Good job” or a virtual pat on the back?
Or instead of crushing someone on what they’re doing wrong, tell them what needs to be done right. I participated in a Raid Finder Spirit Kings encounter a few weeks ago. I could tell they had been in there for some time. Mounds of skeletons, blood stains on the wall, you know what I mean? After another 2 wipes, I was able to isolate what the issue was:
People didn’t know the strategy or what they had to do.
I could’ve easily joined the chorus and called everyone stupid and to go read the flipping strat, or I could take a minute and hash out the most important parts of it in chat. I told them to stack up on the tank and to run directly through on Annihilates. Surprisingly, no one asked why. I guess they were kind of glad someone was able to extend a hand.
Lo and behold, dead boss right after. Naturally, I repeated the same process for Elegon and Will of the Emperor. Not one shots by any stretch, but downed within a reasonable amount of time.
Maybe there is potential for positive reinforcement after all. is there a game with systems in place to engage positivity? Yeah.
Take a look at League of Legends. I’ve played the game for a solid year and a half. In terms of gaming toxicity, League of Legends would rank incredibly high. For a team oriented game, there wasn’t much teamwork or encouragement going on. Riot has had success with curbing negative player behaviour. I did my part by reporting players and logging into their Tribunal system to help review reports of players.
What is the Tribunal?
When a summoner logs into the Tribunal, they are assigned a case to review. This case includes another summoner who has been reported, for any number of reasons, on multiple occasions. The summoner reviewing the case is given chat logs, game statistics, and report details to help them decide if the offending summoner should be punished or pardoned. A summoner can also skip a case if they are unsure or uncomfortable choosing a verdict.
- 51% of Tribunal cases result in a guilty verdict, with only 5.7% earning a permanent ban.
- 50% of players warned by the Tribunal just once never end up there again.
- Over 700 individual cases were personally reviewed by Lyte and Pendragon.
More than 47 million votes were cast in the Tribunal when these metrics were taken.
So maybe Riot might have a track record with influencing player behaviour.
What’s their next trick?
Introducing the Honor System
Honor is a point system introduced to League of Legendson October 1st, 2012. The Honor system was created to incentivize positive behavior among the League of Legends community and identify summoners that would be considered pillars of the community. Currently, Honor does not provide any rewards or perks other than the points themselves, though this could change in the future.
There’s no actual incentive here. There’s no access to free champions. There’s no additional skins. None of that. It’s just a simple point based system to rank other players based on their degree of helpfulness which is divided into 4 categories:
- Friendly: Summoners who would be honored through this category are those that have a positive impact on your game and make the match enjoyable, win or lose. Rewards yellow ribbon.
- Helpful: This category is for summoners that share their know-how and actively help other players improve their gameplay. Rewards blue ribbon.
- Honorable Opponent: Honorable Opponents are players from the opposing team that remain humble in victory or graceful in defeat and/or behave in a positive manner throughout the game. Rewards red ribbon.
- Teamwork: This category honors players that put the team ahead of themselves. This includes anything from forming great plans, helping struggling lanes recuperate, and more. Rewards green ribbon.
Here we have in place a working system that’s designed from the ground up to encourage positivity in gameplay. It was actually implemented not too long ago in October. How’s it doing?
- Negative Attitude reports: -29% in normals and -11%in ranked
- Offensive Language reports: -35% in normals and -20%in ranked
- Verbal Abuse reports: -41% in normals -17% in ranked
That’s a pretty impressive start. I was surprised at how much verbal abuse was reduced by as well. All from a simple-in-concept system, no less! Riot might be on to something here. The initial reports are promising. Even the BBC reported on it.
Good hearted players tend to remain true to their core. Likewise, trolls will always remain trolls. The point of such a system isn’t designed to reform trolls because it acknowledges that they’re just going to be aligned with that type of behaviour to begin with. Most players aren’t firmly aligned one way or the other. The honor system helps tip players that are right on the fence to the correct side.
Adapting it to World of Warcraft
How would you even begin to integrate such a process? WoW and LoL are vastly different games. LoL has both a gaming lobby before and after the game which provides a suitable avenue to report, honor, and comment on players. In WoW, after you finish a raid or a battleground, you’re booted into a scorescreen or left with no option but to punt yourself out of the raid finder instance.
Let’s start with PvP since it’s a little easier to do there. The general problem with PvP is that there’s generally more than 5 players on a team (unlike LoL). It’s going to be a cluster just trying to keep track of it all. Anyone that’s negative sticks out like a sore thumb. It seems difficult to salute positive reinforcing players with such a large quantity. Can you imagine trying to do that in Alterac Valley or Isle of Conquest? There should be enough room in the score screen to add interface options and buttons to promote good that you feel made an impact in the win or were graceful in the loss.
As for raid and dungeon finders, I have no clue. There’s no interface setup for something like this at the end of the run. I’d say have a dungeon review popup at the end of the run. Maybe include things like who obtained what loot, speed of run, etc. Then include somewhere options to identify players that were especially helpful.
No gear rewards. No cosmetics. No mounts, pets, or any of that stuff.
Though I did toy with the idea of players with positive rating getting priority access in the queue, I ultimately realized that it would lead to further segregation. I wager most players would behave better for faster queue times.
This sounds like a tough system to implement into the game. Would it work? Hopefully. There’s a ton of technical challenges that would have to be overcome. It’s an ambitious idea. It’s worked well in one game. Blizzard has a fairly good track record in taking ideas introduced from other games and putting their own spin on it. Riot put in place stringent safeguards to prevent and minimize abuse (Honor trading and so on). Blizzard would have to do something similar or else the system would be completely ineffective.