Riot: Don't ban your players, reform them

Riot is taking a very scientific and psychological approach to player behavior, and it's only helping to increase League of Legends' popularity

Player behavior in multiplayer online games has been a problem since the beginning of the genre. Efforts to change that behavior have been generally ineffectual, and the toolbox used by publishers has mostly been limited to warnings and the banhammer. Riot Games has been working on changing that using scientific methods, and the results are part of the reason League of Legends has become so popular. GamesIndustry International spoke with Riot's Jeffrey Lin, lead designer of social systems, and producer T. Carl Kwoh about what Riot has been able to accomplish.

Lin, who previously worked at Valve and has a PhD in neuroscience, has approached the player behavior issue with scientific methodology. Riot's enormous player base provides a statistically significant amount of data to work with as the developer strives to improve the player experience. However, the issue of players behaving badly is not something that a company can fix by itself, Riot believes. "Player behavior is really a problem that needs to be tackled by the whole community," said Kwoh. "It's not going to be game developers or academics or players; it has to be everyone together."

Riot sees providing players with the power and letting them take control of their own community as an important step, but it's an evolving process. "Even since the world championships, we've completely changed the way that we do things," Lin said. The player-moderated Tribunal for judging behavior infractions is one part of this. "One of the key things that we noticed was that focusing on Tribunal was only a very small piece of the player pie, because 98 percent of our players are actually very good," said Lin. "What we're seeing is they all have bad days. That's where your toxicity comes from."

"When you have a bad day at work, when you go home you have a higher frustration level before you even play a game," Lin explained. "You also have lower tolerance levels for what happens in the game. As soon as something happens in the game, you snap. That person might not do it in a hundred games, but we just have so many players that those mental instances keep happening throughout many games."

"Now we're really pushing the boundaries of science in general, and also the games industry"

Jeffrey Lin

Riot's been working to improve the behavior before it becomes a problem. "Our last couple of months have been focused on how do we run experiments that prevent these players from going toxic," Lin said. "It's not the people that are toxic, it's all about the context. The insight we had is take a look at the same player playing in normal mode and playing in ranked mode; it's exactly the same person, but the behavior is very different. The tolerance level for behavior is different, the reaction to things is completely different. As game designers we have to figure out how we can create a feature that will also influence behavior outside the game."

"We want to reform toxic influences," added Kwoh. "We made that word choice very specifically because we want to try to reform people back to more sportsmanlike behaviors, rather than necessarily remove them. In a free online game, banning only goes so far." Lin provides an example of how to guide people to better behavior. "Instead of saying 'Hey, you're a jerk, stop doing that,' that is less effective than saying 'Hey, everyone else is good; what are you doing?' Just the angle slightly has much more power," Lin said.

The nature of modern society is affecting the online culture, Lin believes. "If you look at online culture, it's basically a different society that's developing over time," he said. "More and more we have kids and people growing up only online these days; they're not doing as much team sports as they used to. They're not learning about teamwork and cooperation. They're learning it all online, where there are no rule sets at all."

"A lot of these players wrote letters in to us," Lin continued. "One player wrote, 'I just didn't realize how offensive the f-word was.' He wrote in just to apologize; he didn't realize how bad it was. He's been using it in all these other games. There was another player, we showed him his logs, and this player said 'I'm really disgusted by my own behavior. Can you guys give me a little guidance?' Now we're seeing that people online in general really aren't bad; they lack self-awareness in many cases. In many other cases they've learned that there are no consequences for these behaviors."

Lin feels like it's Riot's duty to properly help its players, to build in systems that help them behave better. Is Riot making progress towards that goal? "We don't feel it's an uphill battle," Lin said. He provides an example of how the Player Behavior unit has affected things. "We wanted to experiment: Do the people go to the Tribunal for currency, or do they go to contribute to society? We removed the currency reward for thirty days, and then we introduced justice reviews. That shows you how you contributed to the site and the community; how many toxic games did you help prevent? When we removed the currency we lost about 10 percent of our players in the Tribunal. When we introduced justice reviews, we got double the number of players. People actually go to make a difference."

One of the concerns players raise is whether the play environment might get too bland. "A lot of players complain, 'Riot Games, are you against profanity? This is a mature game, so why can't people swear?,'" said Lin. "If you look at the data, that's not what players are punishing. What they're saying is that profanity is OK, but you can't direct it at somebody else. As soon as they target somebody else, that becomes offensive; that becomes toxic. Now it's become really clear: As soon as you target somebody, they're like 'We're punishing this.'"

Kwoh pointed out that players are policing other players carefully, not just arbitrarily. "A really nice thing to see is that level of nuance," Kwoh noted. "People on the forums like to say 'Well, do people even read the cases?' Our players are reading these cases; we have confidence that people are regularly making these very nuanced determinations."

Pro sports has lots of trash talking, but there are well-defined lines that you can't cross without consequences. Riot sees the problem similarly; some level of aggression helps make sporting matches more interesting, but there's a certain level at which it is not desirable. "In general we work with the eSports team to help them develop their sportsmanlike code of conduct, which is very common in many competitive organizations," Kwoh said. "If they're saying something to another player and they're both bantering back and forth, and both players accept it, that's not a subject for the Tribunal. What we're seeing is this very clear line that it's OK if all parties are OK with it, but as soon as someone isn't it should stop."

"Even though we have used bans, as a developer that is the worst action. As much as possible, we want to see if we can work things out"

Jeffrey Lin

The punishments meted out to professional players have affected regular players. "For a long time our players had the perception that pro players were immune, that no matter what they did we were not going to do anything because they were professionals," Lin said. "In the past year we've had our incidents with the pro players, and the eSports team has handed out some discipline. A lot of players have apparently turned around and said 'Oh wow, Riot really did something; all players are treated to the same standard.' Pro players are meeting an even higher standard. The players do appreciate it."

Are there differences in player behavior around the world? "What we're seeing is that being a gamer is like being a culture in itself," observed Lin. "In many ways we are more similar as gamers than we are different as real cultures. A lot of scientists and developers often come to us and say, 'What about country B? Aren't they far more toxic than country C?' Well, no, they're not. Gamers will be gamers."

Now that Riot has shown some of these techniques work on a massive scale in League of Legends, the company is planning to try some new things. "We're going to create experiments that are interesting to developers to improve the game experience, but also extremely interesting to scientists," said Lin. "Now we're really pushing the boundaries of science in general, and also the games industry."

"At GDC we talked about our priming experiment. Priming is a memory effect where exposure to a stimulus can affect later behavior," explained Lin. "If I show you a brief flash of red and then you do a test, you'll do worse on the test by up to 10, 20 percent. Scientist have been studying priming for years and years, and to this day they still don't understand why our brain makes these color associations."

Riot has been using priming to make significant improvements in the game. "We actually combined priming with an in-game feature," Lin noted. "We did an experiment with 217 unique conditions, where every single game we had a different in-game tip, and we also did stuff like changing the colors or varying the locations. What we found is that one sentence can have massive effects on behavior; it can reduce verbal abuse by 10 percent."

Riot's research into player behavior continues. "We're trying to figure out stuff like the Tribunal; one of the weaknesses is speed," Lin said. "You have a behavior, and if you can't punish the player until a week later using the community to help analyze and engage on that behavior, is it possible for us to somehow interact earlier with that player? We're going to do the research to find out. How do we get all of our effects to be long term and persistent character changes and not simply short-term? Even though we have used bans, as a developer that is the worst action. As much as possible, we want to see if we can work things out."

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Latest comments (25)

Temi Web design 9 years ago
Wish you guys wouldn't praise what they are doing. At least I'd expect some thought out critique of it. Things like mob justice and burning witches come to mind. Simply because they are not targeting people who go online to be bad, they are targeting regular players who get frustrated at certain things in their game. They are banning people for insults born from bad plays, for using the word noob or any other kind of chatter you typically expect to see in a competitive environment (even offline). It should be noted that the things they punish for are not what would typically be bannable in other games, so its not even comparable. No other dev seems to care so little that they are willing to take away a persons account, after they've spent over $100 on it and have thousands of games played, just for using the word noob too often (variations of it as well). It's crazy and disgusting when you think about it. Its as if they think their game is perfect and gamers have no reason to be frustrated and get angry (play 5000 games of league and see how mellow you remain)

An example of this would be a player who gets a temp ban for 3 games of trying to be helpful - saying too much can get you in trouble as well, and 2 games with maybe 2-3 insults (easily could get permabanned for no worse). Their approach is also not quite so scientific. They seem to be taking a naturalistic approach to human behaviour. Thinking people can be manipulated by this and that, when they would be much better served trying to remove the things we choose to react to.

There is also the issue of turning your gaming community into guinea pigs, which is what is going on here.

The community has gotten worse for this in my opinion and it will only get worse if they don't address the cause of bad behaviour in their games and just instead focus on strapping wires to their gamers and shocking them.
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I appreciate what they are trying to do here, but I would also like to see more discussions about what we as designers are doing to enable "griefing" and so forth. Example- For one I really dont understand the need in many games for global chat. In certain games you may need team chat, but I think that if we allow teams to police themselves, that can help stop much of the issue. (Quick ex Say if you have a team of 6, if 4 players select kick against a certain player, that player is gone from the game.)
Also why not use icons sims like pop up bubble for conversations, or limit phrases. as another way to stop griefing and poor language.

As far as cheating, just keep stats and run algos, Its pretty evident whos cheating, toss em, or tier them into a level which they can only play against themselves.

Its a lot like parenting, you cant blame the kid about writing all over the walls with crayons, if you are giving them crayons and leaving the room.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 29th April 2013 4:51pm

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Temi Web design 9 years ago
Kicking players can be a problem. You cannot just assume the majority is in the right. There may be a scapegoat, which again is something that seems to happen often with what riot is doing. There rarely is anyone who actually gives a damn about what is said, the real problem varies from the player not playing how you want, the player killing you too often, the player not liking your build, you not liking the players build, etc etc. If people can just kick whoever they want if they get most people on their side, it becomes a problem for the victim. Whole teams are prone to reporting a player if that player has a different strategy for example. (league of legends has a lot of poor players, so you often find 2-4 bads on a 5 man team, hence why all the jokes about solo ranked). Now people report because they know what could happen to the gamer. Its not a pretty thing to watch. Assuming innocent motives vs understanding that there might be underlying malice in the actions of players who utilize the system.

you have a point about all chat, but it sometimes adds to the fun. Trash talking used to be fun, now I don't even know whats going on. I likes the jokes, but I guess its sensitive internet generation now.

Cheating is one offense that actually might require banning, but I've been thinking simply reversing the benefits of the cheating, maybe even further than the benefits, might be enough in some cases.

I thought you were going to say, as designers, you should look at the aspects of actual game design that can cause griefing. League is a 5v5 game. Solo ranked is with random players of whom many are plain bad. the elo system punishes you for losing even if you tried your best to carry the team. Riot doesn't seem to be taking any measures to look at these things.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Temi on 29th April 2013 5:01pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 9 years ago
Good to see an educational element included when enforcing Terms of Play - actually, good to see an online game actually enforcing its terms of play. But a lot of players simply don't get that the stuff they come out with is offensive, or at least not as offensive as it is to the people it affects, so better to tell them why they're in trouble and give them the chance to rethink things than throw them out with the bathwater. That way, you benefit the people who are being attacked, rather than just changing the game in which the offensive player is attacking them.

Also, the use of a human element is definitely interesting. Some of the most eye-wideningly horrible references you'll find being made in games are those you can't just tag a word in and say "if this comes out, it's bad". As an example, in a game I was playing recently, I ran into a player whose name contained a decidedly glorifying reference to one of Ted Bundy's murders, in which he tore a woman apart with a speculum he used to rape her.

Chances are, almost no-one in game would notice that. In fact, it's even possible that no-one would have noticed it, and it if no-one sees it, it's not going to be a problem, but if you do, it's definitely a kind of white-knuckle, "Really? You're saying that?" moment. So having a human element in judgements to supplement a policy that can't possibly cover every specific instance of ways players can horrify each other, and communicating how and why these facets might cause a player to leave, seems a good way to retain players on both sides of the PC line.
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@temi You misconstrue what I talking abut, you cant kick someone on the other team in my example, and you could only kick a team member if the vast majority agrees with you. I fail to see the problem. If the team doesnt want to play with you, why would you want to play with them? its as basic as the old schoolyards. For so many people wanting to kick someone, there is obviously friction and a problem occurring in that game, what good does it do to have the friction remain in the game, it just ruins the game, Games are quick enough so if you at least try to play right, arent a jerk, you wont be noticed nor kicked. Point remains, you have to give player/customers the power to police their own games as well.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 29th April 2013 5:28pm

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Temi Web design 9 years ago
@Todd I didn't think you were talking about the opposing team, but you should try to understand that it can easily be abused. You assume that "jerk" means a thing in gaming. The jerk can easily be anybody and a person not playing by the status quo is easy prey.

My view is simple, have an ignore feature. That is all that is needed without going up and down all over the place trying to punish this and that person for something nobody cares about past the actual game. That is how you give power to customers, not by potentially screwing others over. Mob justice is never a good thing.


Read the above. Its not uncontrolled anarchy. Its sensible and I haven't seen a game die because of this yet. They may die because of underdeveloped community features. When Riot began that system my first thought was "I don't need a game company going there". It is invasive and a bit of an insult to a section of your gamers.

Riot has given power over user accounts to people. temporary bans at the least are automatic and permanent bans may become so eventually. My problem is not quite this though, its the issues they have identified as bannable. They think they are targeting the guys you see go online and just rattle off racial slurs and distribute verbal cancer to various family members when they are often just getting the guy who wants to win. I am not sure they know or care about the difference.

Riot IS BANNING players for far less than any company would care to do. That title is hilarious because they probably are banning more than any other company that does games. FAR more. They didn't stop at (or even start) reforming at all and their approach isn't exactly looking tailored to reforming even. Its been "we don't want you here for calling that guy a noob" from day one. The reputation system came late when it should have come first. The very first thing they did was start banning people and they don't even seem interested in returning those accounts to the people begging (lots invested from some of these guys).

Give me an idea of what behavioral issues you would want dealt with so I can have an idea of where you are compared to what riot considers a behavioral issue. In my opinion the company is seriously misguided on this. My sense of the community is that its getting worse and worse. Maybe they will eventually get their act together, but right now they are still failing miserably.

Do any of you play league of legends seriously (if that is even possible at this point)?

There's a lot in your post to respond to and I am sure I missed some. What is a "miseducated troll"? The end result is gamers who don't care, or have to try not to. Because when things get competitive and people want to win, insults come out and people get banned. Are those poorly educated trolls? The idea of banning the pro players should give you an idea. Hope I am making sense. they essentially want to neuter the community, not remove "miseducated trolls" only. You don't seem to know whats going on in league of legends based on some of your comments. They are not reforming, they are banning and the banhammer doesn't exactly come out in "dire" cases. anywhere between 1-5 insults per game will get you permanently banned for example.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Temi on 29th April 2013 8:20pm

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Randy Marr Customer Service Representative, Blizzard Entertainment9 years ago
"A lot of these players wrote letters in to us," Lin continued. "One player wrote, 'I just didn't realize how offensive the f-word was.' He wrote in just to apologize; he didn't realize how bad it was.
Sorry, but that's called being suckered by the player. That is rule number 1 in the line of "please don't ban me" defenses. Don't believe me? Check this out:

This is just one of many sites like this. Entire communities dedicated to being terrible people, on purpose. People are aware of their actions, and if they truly don't know that the "F Word" is a bad word, than the problem is their upbringing at home. At which point ,developers and online communities are not responsible for raising other people's kids.

While agree that sometimes you just have a bad day, maybe even a couple, there is a clear line between an unrepentant repeat offender and a guy who got the raw end.
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Temi Web design 9 years ago
that link is for botters etc. Not people "having a bad day" one too many times
Riot employees use the F-word even on tape. It may be offensive to some, but I doubt it would be ok to ban someone for using it. Even in an insult, the f word is not the actual insult - it just adds emphasis. The systems they have need clear-cut rules on this stuff but they don't have them. I don't see the difference between using it in an insult and using it in other contexts.

The raw end is freely distributed in more than half of the games in league of legends. I used to play it a lot and I fully understand that there are many reasons to get angry. You cannot limit it to factors outside the game, though riot seems to think their game has nothing to do with it.

Things need definitions. I am still thinking you guys have a stereotypical view of these people that riot is banning. Some of their cases are quite sad (like the few years played, 5000 + $100s one I mentioned who got permanently banned for being too competitive).

Anyway, I should be done here. I'd advice some research into riots "research". lol.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Temi on 29th April 2013 8:33pm

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Mike F Student, Arizona State University9 years ago
@Temi Sounds like you have some personal experience as a toxic lol player. I've played on and off for a year and it seems that there's often one bad egg on one of the teams and it really detracts from the fun of the game. Calling someone a noob is usually the least offensive remark made from a toxic player. i completely support Riot banning them, even if they have spent $100. They're bringing down the game because they can't show a little self control.

I've heard Riot experimented with imposing a message count on toxic players, which sounds like a great idea to me. They can only send out 5 or 10 messages per game so they must use them wisely.. Not being able to call MIA because you used your last message ripping on a bad play could cost your team the game.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mike F on 29th April 2013 11:28pm

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 9 years ago
Much like the real world certain people are beyond reform and need more permanent disipline. In the real world we'd send these people to jail. In the gaming world we'd ban them. It's nice that Riot and certain others are experimenting with alternative methods of punishment, but just like I don't think a mass murderer deseves a second chance at freedom(or an appeal for that matter) I don't think online multiplayer repeat offenders deserve anything other than to be perma-banned for life or 76 billion years, whichever comes first.
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Patrick Williams Medicine and Research 9 years ago
Science is about making a hypothesis, as in you make an educated guess about how something works, then testing it to see if its true. Based on the result, you make a new hypothesis that reflects your new knowledge and you test it. You keep doing this until you get understand a given phenomenon and can apply the your understanding to resolve a problem.

Here, Riot hired a person that should be knowledgeable in human interactions, they have tools to make a test to see if they can alter behavior and, under the assumption you can get internet denizens to behave, they're going to adjust their methods until they can their players behave. That Temi doesn't like that Riot is experimenting with its players is one thing. It is nonetheless scientific and bashing it by saying its not research is silly, particularly without providing any specific criticism or recommendations. Peer review is pretty important and in this case, the company's bottom line is going to serve pretty well in telling Riot if their methods are successful (with the idea being that nicer players means more players means more money).

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Patrick Williams on 30th April 2013 3:09am

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Temi Web design 9 years ago
I havent fully read this but seems good. Some idea of what people get punished for

@ Mike

Not sure about experience being "toxic". I've been against the tribunal since it came out.

I really hate that word. its beyond ignorant. Riot is not a company you should be defending. Playing on and off for a year is hardly experience. Below is the type of person they are banning. Within the thread that this was posted, a player reports using an account to vote punish on every single tribunal case he came up against, he reports 98.5% success rate (voting with majority)

From your post it seems you are one of the tribunal supporters. Shame. I honestly can't comprehend the attitude. I mean I can see you saying ok, that was mean. But to just wave your hands at what riot does to these players? They are not racial slur spamming, extremely raging players that I am seeing. These are just regluar people playing the ranked mode in the game and wanting to win. One problem I have also seen is that a lot of the supporters who are vocal are like you. Play on and off, some don't even touch ranked, yet still they are happy to pass judgement on others in completely different situations and for things so minor.

My basic points are that
1. riot is not doing what other companies have done another way (i.e. banning instead of reforming). Riot is targeting players normally not considered a huge problem in gaming. They are going off on their own tangent and turning everything into a crime.

2. they are banning. This "reform" business is new and not being done well at all. There are players who get voted as nice in many games, amassing over a hundred honor points, who then up and lose it for a few select games of getting pissed. They treat you terribly for being human and completely ignore your confirmed merits (community confirmed merits).

Obviously these posts are not about me, they are about several cases I read in the forums. I actually follow this crap.

To the others, I am not saying calling someone bad is the best thing in the world or anything like that. I'm just saying its not an internet problem. What riot is targeting is different.

@ Patrick

I have reasons for saying its not scientific. They don't have controls for one thing. its just one big ol mess of data with many factors involved and they are just picking out what they like and blaming that. Not sure about the qualifications of the guy in charge. He is a PhD in math IIRC. I am not completely sure of the structure they have going


Riot puts the power in regular users hands. No training, no nothing. They don't even provide clear guidelines. Its a free for all.
The reputation system is smart, the tribunal is not. I am a bit biased on this. I can't trust the company at this point and anything they do makes me cringe. The resources they are wasting. eww.

with regard to the player with thousands of games, he was banned for minor things. I really don't think riot cares about these people.

About the democratic system, the community has gotten to the point where they report for anything. Every game somebody is crying for so and so to be reported. Best bet is to shut up or be the guy that gets people reported. Its to be expected IMO and that is why I have been against it from the start. It was so obviously a bad idea, but I am not in charge there so meh... You say what you say, but you have to realize its still frustrating for people. Its easy to just say do this or do that, but you aren't the one wanting a good game and being frustrated over and over by all the league has to offer. Its funny, there are few solutions that I frequently see in league. They say mute all chat, stop playing ranked or just stop playing league. You WILL say something that will get your report a punish. Its evident because riot themselves realize it gets more competitive in ranked than normals.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Temi on 30th April 2013 5:26am

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Justin Trautmann Studying Digital Media & Multimedia Technology, Hillsborough Community College9 years ago
What do you suggest, Temi? Not only to League of Legends, but to an online community (and its enforcement policy) as a whole?
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Christophe Danguien games developer 9 years ago
I think they're just trying to keep as many people buying and giving them money as they can, that's all. A Phd in neuro-science won't solve the issue, because as much as a Phd she got, the brain is far too complex and our knowledge of it and so of people is far too small for her solution to be efficient. The community will just turn into a witch-hunt.

They're just trying to look like it's a good thing, but they're just doing it to keep people playing and keep their business afloat, that's all....
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
I tried playing League of Legends, but it's a horrible experience for a new player. The game has massive, fundamental flaws in its gameplay and balancing (which are shared by most DotA / MOBA games), flaws which encourage this kind of toxic behaviour.

It's fast paced, highly competitive and requires strong team work to win, but it has incredibly punishing positive feedback loops that hurt you over and over again for every mistake and make you fall further and further behind as the game goes on. Having a bad / inexperienced player on your team not only ruins their experience and effectively leaves your team a man down (as they're completely useless by the end game, unable to fight AI or human enemies, dying quickly and then spending minutes at a time waiting to respawn), but it also helps the opposing team level up faster, making them not just a waste of space but an actual liability to your team. This highly charged atmosphere inevitably leads to insults, abuse and kick votes, as the team is better off kicking the newbie and carrying on 4 v 5 than keeping them on their team. Which is terrible game design.

The fact that a complete newcomer to the game can end up in a match with experienced and ultra competitive players suggests that the matchmaking system doesn't work either (or that newcomers just don't last very long, meaning there aren't enough of them to start a match together). If there were more opportunities to practice, either offline or with other players at a similar skill level, there'd be less friction by the time you work your way up to the big league. But instead the game throws you in at the deep end, lets you inadvertently ruin the match for four other players, and gives your team mates no time or encouragement to help you improve your skills, instead giving them tools to insult you, kick you out of their game or abandon the match entirely.

Under the circumstances it's no surprise there's so much abuse going on. MOBA designers need to look at their game's design, not the psychology of the people playing it.
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Patrick Williams Medicine and Research 9 years ago
A lot of science comes down to tinkering as you look for the ideal conditions and try to get a handle on the big picture. Pilot experiments are useful in setting the stage for larger projects. Science does not necessarily require the kinds of controls that you mention every step of the way. Ideally, yes, but it also depends on what your desired outcome is. If you want to make a statement about how people function and human nature, then it is going to require much more rigor than what Riot is seeking to do. Very often in medicine, for example, people don't know how stuff works, they just know that it works and the bottom line is ultimately what matters. The details are figured out later. The methods for achieving each of these outcomes are not the same because the questions aren't the same. The differences between qualitative and quantitative research provide further examples of this point and while qualitative research often gets a bad reputation, sometimes rightfully, it does not necessarily discredit the applicability of the information you can get out of it.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Patrick Williams on 30th April 2013 1:53pm

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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
"So basically, what you are suggesting is to actually reward the loosing team for loosing"
No, what I'm talking about is individual players being punished for failing, in a way that seems to make it harder for them to come back from that failure and which increases the chance of them failing again more frequently in future.

When you die in a DotA / MOBA style game, you typically lose out in several ways - you have to wait to respawn, then when you do respawn you have to run forwards from your base to rejoin the fight, and during all that time you're falling further and further behind the other players on both teams because you're not earning XP and everyone else is (at a very rapid rate, compared to other game genres). Meanwhile the player who killed you (understandably) gets a big XP reward for doing so, which not only puts them even further ahead of you, but also disadvantages the rest of your team.

The rate at which your power increases as you level up seems quite steep to me, so once you start falling behind you're more likely to quickly die again without any chance to escape or fight back, and you have to spend more time hanging back and running away to keep yourself alive. All of which means you earn XP at a slower rate than the other players, and so fall even further behind them.

Other mechanics like being able to hide in a bush and then jump out and attack someone as they run past just make this even worse, as once you fall behind enough you can get pretty much one hit killed with little or no warning by someone camping in the brush next to the path. And to cap it all, the amount of time you have to wait to respawn increases dramatically each time you die, to the point where you can end up spending more time waiting around to respawn than actually playing the game, because each time you die the respawn wait gets longer and your life expectancy in the game gets shorter.

To use your sporting analogy, that's like if every time you get tackled in a game of football you get sent off, with the time you spend on the bench increasing each time, and when you come back on the field you have to run forwards from the goal line every time to rejoin the action, even if you're a striker and the ball's deep in the other half. Also, reversing the way real football works, the players on the field are constantly getting stronger and faster as they play, whereas the ones on the bench aren't, plus players get an extra boost each time they tackle someone.

Now each time you get tackled you're leaving your team a man down for ever longer periods of time, becoming more and more useless to them as the game goes on, and even giving the people tackling you an advantage over the rest of your team. There comes a point where you'd be better off staying on the bench, and you're disadvantaging your team by coming back on the field each time.

That's basically how DotA games seem to work, from what I've seen.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 30th April 2013 2:43pm

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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
Instead of warning or banning the toxic players, Riot should adjust their matchmaking system to have them always play eachother. Everybody wins that way, the toxic players can keep being toxic, and everyone else can play the game without them in it.
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David Serrano Freelancer 9 years ago
@John Bye

"The fact that a complete newcomer to the game can end up in a match with experienced and ultra competitive players suggests that the matchmaking system doesn't work either (or that newcomers just don't last very long, meaning there aren't enough of them to start a match together)."

This has been my primary issue with all of the PvP - Co op games and modes I've played to date. I think more than toxic players in any given community, unbalanced matchmaking is what chases most people away from PvP and Co op. Because when matching systems for all intents and purposes throw new and low experienced players to the wolves, it basically guarantees the majority of new players will quit playing before they learn anything. Regardless of a player's overall gaming experience, how can they learn to effectively play a new game when the playing environment has been structured to make learning and experimentation almost impossible?

What makes matters worse is developers ever take the time to explain the basic formats, rules and objectives of PvP modes. They just assume its common sense, but it's not. Go into any AAA game and see if you can find any explanation or tutorials for each of the multiplayer modes? They don't exist. The problem is if somebody is new to PvP and they sign into a shooter's multiplayer mode, they have no idea what Headquarters, Search and Destroy, Ground War, etc... are. Or what they are expected to do if they play. So they sign in, blindly run around trying to learn the map and figure out what they're supposed to do, which in turn pisses off the experienced players they never should have been matched with (or against) in the first place. It's one, big clusterf*ck.

I think if developers gave new players the choice of being immediately placed into matches which in all likelihood will be unbalanced and unfair, or waiting in a queue until the system can build matches with other new and inexperienced players, I think most would choose the latter. Because if they really want to learn how to play the game, they'll be willing to wait.
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Temi Web design 9 years ago
@ Justin Trautmann

The solution is simple, empower the gamer to protect themselves. It should be easy to put people on ignore if they are frustrated with something. If you look at it objectively, the abused has something they can do to avoid it, the person on the other end raging? he has no choice. He can't ignore the person he considers bad out of his game or anything of the sort. its such a simple solution. You could even integrate voice commands when there is voice chat (ignore player 1)

The sad thing is that people do not seem to comprehend that the feature is in the game. I have seen them come on the forums and cry about wanting someone banned. My mind just goes numb wondering how on earth the sat through all that supposed abuse and failed to consider putting the person on ignore. People need to learn how to protect themselves online as a basic rule anyway. It's even worse when someone sticks around after a game, when they are free to just leave and records someone raging at them. Its completely ridiculous. If it offends you, why are you sitting there still? Then there are those who turn off their chat filters and complain about cursing. really, internet people are high on something.

Temporary bans are not terrible and could apply to those who go overboard (death threats to cats). Still, I guess I have tough skin. As long as its easy to control what i see, its not a problem. A lot of these games even have a small space for the chat, making it already hard to read it all. Yet still...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Temi on 1st May 2013 5:26am

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Green Bean Gaming AntiCheat Organization 9 years ago
This is exactly what my community HackHunters is all about, building better people or should I say 'bringing out the best in people.' HackHunters is a unique AntiCheat organization because it doesn't actually have any AntiCheat software to offer. What it does offer is an avenue for gamers, clans and others to address the larger issues of online cheating (and general bad behavior). We understood a long time ago that clans themselves alter social behavior towards a more positive experience, so we jumped in to support that effort and to be a guiding force in the gaming world geared towards reasonable solutions to problems. It is an uphill battle though, but we've found avenues towards getting the word out, like this post!
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Emily Rose Artist 9 years ago
There is never an excuse to smack talk Temi. The tribunal has made league playable for me and my friends. People give advice instead of just raging. Or if they rage they do it alone. There's never a reason to put people down, it's totally unproductive and should be punished for the overall health of the game.

The alternative to the tribunal was much worse.
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Temi Web design 9 years ago
There is never an excuse to smack talk Temi. The tribunal has made league playable for me and my friends. People give advice instead of just raging. Or if they rage they do it alone. There's never a reason to put people down, it's totally unproductive and should be punished for the overall health of the game.

The alternative to the tribunal was much worse.
The alternative was not much worse than the tribunal. Tired of seeing people say that. The alternative I provided above for example. RIot has messages in game that tell people what they want to tell them, but I have never seen these messages tell people that they should ignore players that offend them. The company is NOT thinking at all. They don't care and this is just an experiment to them. I sometimes feel sorry for these people who cry so much about getting insulted or teased in game, yet never once click the ignore button. If people telling you you're bad is so damaging, even when you are maybe the worst player in the entire game, then ignore them.

The problem I think is that the tribunal system allows for revenge. Someone calls you bad? report them. You can easily get back at any unruly person that hurts your ego.

BTW I don't think you're thinking very much either. unproductive and never an excuse (in your view) is not a reason for someone to lose an account they have worked hard on. The punishments you guys want to hand out are actually mean in comparison to what you find objectionable and you don't seem to care. It's a sad situation. Your idea of overall health of the game is probably mistaken. A convincing example of a game that failed because the community was too mean would help your case. Lets take the rotten cod for example. You all seem to think that community sucks. Where is Call of Duty now?

Do you play solo queue or just with your friends? Your post just seems one-sided. You want one thing, others want something else, yet you think you are justified in having them lose their ability to play for your sake instead of you taking measures to avoid what you don't like.
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Justin Trautmann Studying Digital Media & Multimedia Technology, Hillsborough Community College9 years ago
A good suggestion, Temi, and something I certainly agree with. A player should be empowered to protect themselves against the dangers/words/threats/"stuff" on the internet - specifically in games and their communities.

Yet, how does your suggestion help in fostering a community? If the toxic player (I'll be consistent with the term being used) is merely being ignored by certain individuals, what stops or dissuades that person from continuing? Sure, they would continue to be ignored - but is that the only acceptable means of handling toxic players?

To further expand on that, what about people who sabotage the game (specifically in League of Legends)? You can ignore them, but it doesn't take away the fact that they can still do actions and things that can either harm you or hold you back. If an individual goes beyond mere words and starts effecting the game play - what other means should those sort of people be handled?
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 9 years ago
@temi - I think the F-word they're referring to here isn't "fuck". It's "faggot" and I cringe inwardly even typing it to explain. It's the word people shout at suspected gay and trans people before trying to beat them to death in the street. That's why people who use it are about as poorly regarded as those who use the N-word.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 2nd May 2013 8:10pm

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