Blizzard: Check out Riot’s Playbook for Dealing with Douches

“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.

Unbelievable.

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.

Tribunal stats

  • 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

Source

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.

Becky Chambers of The Mary Sue states it pretty succinctly, “I have often had the impression that a lot of bad behavior online — both in-game and otherwise — is based in social mimicry.”

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.

Rewards

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.

About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

7 comments
Grendalsh Dawntreader
Grendalsh Dawntreader

Incentivizing positive behaviours always results in better results than punishing negative. Both should be used when appropriate, but the lack of a positive reinfircement mechanism within games (besides making 'winning' easier) will be an interesting area of development for MMOs moving forward. Systems such as the Perky Pug pet and the Patient title were an early form of this that incentivized using the LFG tool. More recently, the Tank/Healer bribe bag for running as an under-represented role is a more blatant nod towards rewarding desired behaviour. So why not build a system actually designed to encourage being a good LFG/LFR player by rewarding that behavour?In WoW, I would like to see an MVP system that allows up-voting positive group behaviours. These would only be available when using the LFG/R tool, and would only be available to non-guild members, to avoid abuse.At the end of a successful run, a player is given a dialog with the option to give an MVP point to each other party member, and a bonus to one party member that is awarded if the majority vote for that player. Scoring is optional, and not scoring doesn't count against players. This makes it possible to earn from 0 to 5 points per LFG and up to 25 from an LFR. Each would keep a separate score, resulting from the number of runs vs the number of votes received (over a history of perhaps the last 25 runs).A player's MVP score would be a composite of these upvotes vs the total possible votes they could have recieved. There would need to be a mechanic to differentiate between a non-vote for a single player and a player choosing not to vote at all. As an example, on their first run, an player receives 3 upvotes out of 4, for a ratio of 3/4. On their second run, 2 players vote for our subject, while one partymember simply cancels the upvoting dialog, voting for no-one. Our subject is not 'penalized' for this non-vote, and his new ratio is now 5/7.  On our subject's third run, 2 guildmates come along, and cannot vote for our subject, who receives upvotes from the other 2 players, along with an MVP vote from both, which results in getting 3 points/ 2 votes, and his ratio is now 8/9. Sadly, our subject lets this go to his head, and his next run is kind of a jerk. He gets no votes, but since the other players didn't just cancel their vote panels, these count 'against' our subject, lowering his ratio to 8/13.Thus, a player with a 1/5 ratio would be accurately seen as a struggling new player, while a 10/50 ratio would be accurately seen as a poorly rated player, despite having the same mathematic ratio.Acheivements could be tied to these scores based on role, etc. For instance, acheive a ratio of 80/100 as Tank and get the 'Tankity' title, get 80/100 as Heals, get the title Doctor, etc. The Titles would be visible displays that OTHERS think you have done a decent job at your role.  Get an exceptionally high ratio, and gain access to serving as an in-game role rep for other players to seek reliable assistance.

myriadguild
myriadguild

Would definitely love to see something like the Tribunal in WoW. What I like best about Riot's system there is how they involve the player community in reviewing the complaints, the associated chat logs, etc. and then issuing feedback in the level of offense as well as weighing in on the appropriate consequences. 

I think it's a good start for a model that would absolutely work in WoW and in doing so would introduce a number of benefits to the player community. 

amkosh
amkosh

The system would not work in a game such as WoW.  And it will not always work for Riot.  LoL is pretty much a currently hip (for lack of better term, sue me, I've a cold) game which means even in those rare cases where someone gets banned, they're likely to just come back.  LoL also is F2P which means that in those rare cases, its more likely they're kicking out a moocher than an actual paying customer.   

If Blizzard tried it in WoW, they'd just be kicking their sub numbers and revenue down down down. 

Darthkeller
Darthkeller

I've felt that something like this should be implemented, but in my version there would be consequences.

Let's say you get 1 point per "up vote" and -1 point for a "down vote".  After your dungeon (no, this wouldn't really work for LFR) you get a new window simply asking for an up or down vote.  5 seconds and you're done.

After a certain point you reach a threshold.  Let's say 100 points.  If you have 100 points, you get moved up in any queue, past all people with less than 100 points.  So, instead of a 30 minute LFR queue, you have a 10 min LFR queue.

If you have less than -100 points, every group you join will get a message saying "This guy sucks" (or something similar) and they have the opportunity to boot you immediately without using a VTK, just click a button and you're gone.  

To prevent abusing this system, you'll never be able to vote for people in your guild and possibly not people on your friends list.  But even if that is too complicated, unless you bring 3 people with you to every dungeon, if you're a jerk you're going to lose points (3 negatives against 1 positive, since you can't vote for yourself)

Screw Blizzard trying to police things.  Let us, the community, police our dungeons.

Now, good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is punished.  Before long, there will be less bad behavior and we can all enjoy this game.

amkosh
amkosh

@Darthkeller This works good if you want to always play with the best, but will suck if you're not the best.  And face it, most of the player base isn't the best.  And what will happen to those that "suck" ?  They'll stop queuing, and likely stop playing. 

Of course you can control what dungeons you run by getting into a guild that allows you to never queue with intent to pick up a random player.  

Except few people seem to do this.  Some try, I admit, but the majority don't seem to, or the LFR queue times would be much higher.  

Jungle justice, which is effectively what the current system is, does work, most people tolerate up to a certain point.  Those that don't seem to cause more harm to themselves than the others... 

hestiahdruid
hestiahdruid like.author.displayName 1 Like

Strangely enough, SWTOR had a pretty good system that's similar to LoL's honor system for PvP encounters. You're allowed so many points to reward to other players at the scoreboard. Each player got to use them all. If, depending on how many of these points you got, you got a certain amount you were awarded bonus pvp currency. It's been awhile since I played, but I always liked seeing the +'s next to my name, as well as giving them out to others. You can't give them to yourself, and the bonus is pretty, but it was something. But something needs to be done. Definitely. 

_Gneisha
_Gneisha

This seems like it would be a really awesome idea. I haven't had too many random heroics lately with jerks, but LFR tends to have at least one bad apple.

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