I’ve talked about this one at length already but it bears repeating after recent events. There are a lot of asshats in the gaming sphere and the level of anonymity that the internet provides is a cloak they abuse. The concept of privacy on the internet is something we’re eventually going to have to give up (or have already if you pay attention). The advent of social tools without the social skills to use them makes for a mess of a time. This is still the Wild West and the sheriff is more or less whoever wants to wear the badge. There are many countries that are making changes to their laws to make people accountable for their actions on-line – the UK is the most advanced in this (but also has amazing trolls). Canada is getting better but the US is like a ballpit of dumb when it comes to this – in particular around their understanding of what Free Speech actually means in a legal sense.
And let’s be clear about this. Reasonable people saying reasonable things don’t get attention. It passes the logic test, and we say “they’re ok”. It’s the people on the extremes that get attention because what they say makes little sense. So you end up hearing the 1 idiot spouting stupid (and we getting dumber for hearing it) and the moderate voice that counters it is barely heard because everyone is arguing against dumb.
Never argue with an idiot; they’ll bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. –
Back to the gaming world now. League of Legends (LoL) is making a few changes to their system. You might remember them from the concept of tribunals a few years ago. A group of (volunteer) players who act as a council to vote on players who have been reported for bad behavior. They assign bans or time outs or what-have-you, based on in-game logs. The recidivism rate is actually surprising, with something like 90% of them never coming back to the tribunal. But let’s make no mistake here, with the millions who are playing, there are still many who cause issues and the penalties are currently very black/white.
There’s an old story about UO and the Trammel split, where Origin at the time didn’t understand the problem with griefers and the open PvP plaguing the game. If you recall, it was not a terribly complex thing to lose your house to a greifer, people would stack bag and bags of crap to hide their keys so that the PvP looters would take forever to find the right one. The concept was as this “a griefer is one who costs you more money than they pay”. So you might make $15 on that griefer but if they cause 2 people to quit, you’ve lost money. And UO was losing money. I am not saying the split was the right choice (in fact I would easily argue other things could have been done – I was a noto-hunter in the day, which could have been a much more elegant solution) but it was a hard solution to a very large problem.
XBONE has a reputation system of 3 tiers. Regular, borderline and scumbag. Ok, I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea. Regular and borderline play in one bucket, scumbags play in another. Your rating decays over time so you can come back to the clean area. I haven’t seen any reports on this program since launch mind you…
LoL once again. They are implementing a new type of penalty where poorly rated players can no longer play ranked games. Ranked games have rewards, they are seasons, they allow you to join the professional circuit. It’s pretty similar to the XBONE solution except that non-ranked games are where the casual players are found. This is really putting the wolf in with the sheep, when you look at it from the outside. I’m sure there’s some thought as to how this can impact the bottom line but it’s rather clear that the bad players need more types of punishment. I’m guessing the matchmaking process aligns no only your skill level but your player reputation, which should make it fun to watch from the outside.
I know Hearthstone’s approach to this is to not allow chat at all. Just some basic pre-canned messages. People will quit before losing, which is another topic. When Heroes of the Storm does launch, and as with all Blizzard items attracts DragonSoul to complain/grief, I am extremely curious as to their plans for managing that issue. (And yes, I realize I’m avoiding the SC2 scene, which is arguably pretty tame). Once we get passed LoL into Blizzard casual-land, I’m of the opinion we’ll have reached a gaming crest of toxicity management