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Fixing Toxic Online Behavior in League of Legends (gamasutra.com)
76 points by ayu 1491 days ago | hide | past | web | 44 comments | favorite



I think the approach that Valve takes to this in DotA 2 is pretty phenomenal. If you get reported you are put into a 'low priority' pool, since the people who play in this pool are generally there for a reason it makes a very effective punishment. If you play a day's worth of games with people who are total assholes you see how much it sucks to be on the receiving end. I'm consistently impressed with how the community in DotA 2 will permit long pauses, be courteous, and in general nicer than any other game I've played. Also the pace of this talk is infuriatingly slow.


I thought the idea was really great as well, on the flipside I love Dota2's ability to "commend" as it makes people try harder to be friendly and lead in order to earn those points positively. (Though in reality I've only gotten those points when I do really well and basically win the game for my team)


You must be playing a different DotA 2 than me then. To me this is by far the worst community of players I've ever been in, but then I've only played in public games. I really want to like the game, but there are so many players with terrible attitudes that there is a huge change you'll get one of those in your team that will ruin the game. I've reported quite a number of people and it makes no difference whatsoever.


Actually, I think it's terrible in it's current state. I made a second account to try some heroes/practice heroes on. Recently they changed the number of reports to four per week, but I almost need to report a person per match for either feeding, afking or really bad language. I realize this is in the 'normal' bracket, which is still pretty terrible.

You might be consistently impressed, lately I have been consistently disappointed by the Dota 2 community.


I'm in the normal bracket too and that is my experience as well. I used to max out on reports per week just reporting bad language.


It really varies. I try to play like I play prisoner's dilemma, my first move is "courteous" and subsequent moves are to do whatever you do.

Sometimes you get teams of mature people who realize we're all in it to have fun, who will wait for you, crack jokes while you're all waiting, and generally make you feel better about the game. Those have been some of the best matches I've played, and included extending condolences to the other player when I've killed them and giving them tips on what they could do better after they respawn.

Other times, people will just yell at you, swear at you, call you names, constantly unpause the games, and just be horrible shits.

Also, I wonder what's different (culturally) about Russians, as they seem to be, by far, the less courteous of the bunch. I think they are racist towards Americans, so when someone speaks English, they basically go "fuck him, he's an American". A few of my friends go the opposite racism route, and say "fuck him, he's Russian", but I obviously try to tell them that you shouldn't be a dick to someone if he's not been a dick to you first.


Came here to say the same thing. DotA 2 is one of the best experiences I've had in gaming ettiquette. Sure there are still the occasional trolls and flamewars. In general the games are handled with sportsmanship and teamwork.

Contrast this with any other multiplayer game and you'll see constant harassment, cheating, and an overwhelming lack of team play. Overall just too many people who make it their job to ruin the games.

The only thing I'd change is better onboarding of new players. There's a big gulf between the tutorials/bots and PvP. The first 5-10 real games for a new player are filled with insults, and losses.


On the flip side, if you get placed into the punishment brackets its back to dota1 style game play.

Which is significantly annoying because there is a bug where you get disconnected from dota. Your only fix is to shut down steam, and I've had to turn off my modem and restart it.

And theres a 5 minute timer waiting to ban you if you are either AFK, or not earning EXP.

Then theres the bans for being a noob on top of that. As a result, its currently sub-par to on par with Dota 1 for me.


Whenever I play, my teammates pause the game and wait so the 5 minute timer doesn't apply.


You can buy a new dota key for around 2 euros if you get stuck in that pool. Jealous noobs are also flagging really good players to get rid of them too, plenty of threads on people who got stuck in the low priority pool for being too good.


different genre, but I find the starcraft community pretty good. The culture of even wishing your opponent(s) glhf (good luck have fun) and saying gg (good game) afterwards is pretty respectful (most of the time).


The way he presents the priming results makes me really suspicious that they made statistical errors.

First, the numbers are all given as percentages relative to a control. This makes the measured changes appear larger. If the control percentage was 5%, then a relative increase of 20% is just an absolute increase from 5% to 6%. (Also, the relative increase inherits variation from both the control and the target bin.)

Second, the data is presented as if it were cherry picked. They give the most interesting bins or transitions between similar bins, instead of discussing metrics over all of the bins.

I did a very rough estimate of the variation you'd expect to see, given 217 bins of binomial distributions with n=10^5 and p=0.05 where you report percentages relative to one of the bins. It's on the order of +-5%, despite the large sample sizes. Minor changes in protocol could increase this to +-30% and explain all of their results.

The wild swings when the color or font is changed increase my suspicion that they're seeing noise (because I really don't expect priming to be that strong).

Note that this is based entirely on the very superficial amount of data the presenter included in his slides. It may also be the case that they just omitted statistical details because they expected it to be boring to the audience.


I kept watching for the Standard Error, Im very surprised they didnt show it as that is very important to know how accurate, he said they had millions of data points but considering all the stats Im really surprised they didnt mention it at all.


> because I really don't expect priming to be that strong

Have you looked into it? I never heard of it but I read a lot about suggestion, conversational hypnosis... I'm going to spend my night studying this priming thing but I'm not skeptical about it.


I think it's interesting that they're attacking things from the human/social side, but don't even mention the possibility of tweaking game mechanics.

For example, years ago I made a DotA-genre map for starcraft. The community was significantly less "toxic". This may have been due to its smaller size, but there were also game mechanics that I think contributed to it.

First, I focused on uneven games being fun. This was mostly achieved by (partially) shared income. On a smaller team your portion of the shared income was higher, so your hero was stronger. An ally leaving had upsides: suddenly you'd have a higher income and a bunch of back-dated income.

Second, dying had no downsides except you had five lives. You didn't get a time-out. The enemy didn't get experience or a pile of money for killing you. Instead, you'd repick your hero and spawn back at base right away. When you died you came back specialized for the current situation and you came back fast (you had constructive things to do; no time to focus on complaining). Until your last life, dying actually had upsides! Sometimes people would even strategically die, trading a life in order to switch roles or to teleport to the base (in dire situations).

It was hard to be angry at a terrible player for dying repeatedly... they were removing themselves from the game, after all. I'm sure the smaller team size, and the presence of 'safe' tasks like moving tanks to defend key areas, also didn't hurt. Having a weak player on your team wasn't ideal, but you could still have a fun game where they contributed.


I've played a few of these games, and I also think it's an issue with the core mechanics. Each match can be around forty-five minutes long. So it's really easy to dig a hole for yourself and spend a lot of the game getting repeatedly beat down. Then add in the high learning curve, and small teams. This means that a single player who's learning the game or trying out a new strategy can potentially cause his entire team to lose.

If you intentionally set out to design a game that turned all your players into assholes you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better system.


That was an interesting watch.

I can't help but feel the tribunal would inevitably lead to holier than thou attitudes, they would vote on surface behavior rather than intent and effect. To put that in context, I used to play Planetside with a clan called Obsidian Empire. We had a player there that was the most vial, crude son-of-a-bitch I had ever seen (well, heard). If you screwed up he'd be on you fast. But he was so outlandish that really everyone loved him.

Addressed in a setting as puritanical as the tribunal, he'd never make it. People are likely to vote on shortly adopted principles and on the surface behavior, rather than what message the player actually sent to who the player was talking to.

it's disinfectant, for sure, disinfectant gets rid of alot of problems. Serious problems in fact. It may sound incredulous to argue against it when weight against disinfectants benefits. I'd bet allot of the hackers reading this would rather my friend simply not be such a prick.

I'm glad it's there, but I would prefer a system where a good intentioned friend would survive the process.


1. You'll never get reported by people you know, so it doesn't matter.

2. If you're being vile to someone you don't know, it doesn't matter if your friends think it's hilarious. What matters is whether you're ruining the game for other people.

I have not noticed any holier than thou behavior since they rolled this out. It's been some time now, so if that was going to be an effect we'd probably have noticed it by this point. I have noticed that people have gotten much nicer on average, but it's hard to tell if that's the tribunal or that more skilled people are nicer -- my rank has gone up quite a bit since I started.


This works because you knew him and played regularly. In Leauge most of the time you are playing with strangers and it's harder to behave like that. Most people wont know you are joking.

A vile (friendly) player can still exist. In your own private group chats you can say what you please. And if you are playing in an arranged 5 team you are unlikely to report your own team.


"I can't help but feel the tribunal would inevitably lead to holier than thou attitudes"

And the persons who believe that way can play exclusively with other persons who want to screw around, this ensures that. You should be happy to be put in queue with others who don't care about the rest of the players! They're edgy! They don't judge!


Funnily enough, I built something to solve this problem [1]. It's working out alright [2].

It's fascinating what a simple humanizing 'hi' (with a smiley face) can do to the outcome of a game.

It's straightforward enough to match people perfectly based on skill level, but the pseudo-anonymity and high volume of games means that you often never see the same people again. It's easy to abuse them and never even consider your own mistakes.

The best players focus purely on their own play and their own mistakes; they rarely blame external factors for when things go badly. Just what they can improve on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3wqhmG__Io

[1] www.teamfind.com - the idea is to find other real humans to play with that you can relate to (and have fun with).

[2] There's a voting system - 93% of all votes are positive.


This is why I migrated to Dota 2. The general population is more mature, and there are simply less situations in the game which induces rage. What I am talking about?

- The fact that you can pause the game, and wait for someone to reconnect, so you won't lose a game because someone kicked his reset button.

- When someone is AFK the gold is shared amongst the other players.

- You can control the disconnected person's hero.

These and a thousand tiny other little touches makes Dota 2 a better community to be in.


The problem is that Riot's implementations have completely failed at solving the problem.

By promoting reporting now a lot of the abuse has turned into threatening to report each other. Where before new players would be called shit. Now they are threatened for being bad. There is actually a report option for reporting a new player.. this makes many new players give up because they feel it is against the rules to have no idea what they are doing.

The Tribunal while a nice idea doesn't work. Riot's implementation has a rating system where judges are ranked based on their accuracy. That means many people punish based on what they think other people are doing instead of making their own decision. On each case there is no requirement to spend a specific time looking at it. No requirement to read all the text. I know people who punish every case without reading and run at 90% accuracy on the league table.

Another issue with the tribunal is that it punishes for almost anything. If you say GG after 9 minutes... its punishable. If end the game saying gg easy... its punishable. Combine this with the fact that enemies can report you without specifying a reason means a percentage of players who get punished shouldn't be in the tribunal to begin with. Combine this with terrible support... getting unpunished means going on Reddit and hoping a Riot employee spots it..

At best Riot have shifted the problem from verbal abuse to threatening to report. At worst they have failed completely.

The two main flash points are before you can play ranked games and have a new account. The second one is in champion select...

If you are banned you make a new account. If you want a second account you make a new account. This means the game for new players is incredibly toxic. About 50% of new players are people on smurf's or banned players leveling. This leads to a lot of frustration when you have a 20 death ally on your team. There are a bunch of things they could do.

1. Add a tip pointing out a mute button exists... It took me 80 games of randomly being shit on before someone told me about the mute button. If someone starts to spout abuse I just click the ignore button. Problem sorted.

2. They could give headstart smurf accounts to people who tick an option saying they are experienced players. This would help noobie players play against each other and have a soft intro to the game.

3. They could improve the tutorial so players actually start with some idea of what they are doing.

4. They could make the early climb on new accounts start versus bots to force people to actually get a feel for the game before throwing them into PvP

All 4 solutions would ease the problem new users are facing.

Another issue is in games where 2 or more people want to play the same position while picking champions. A lot of people say 'mid or feed'. They want the mid position. If they don't get it they will repeatedly let the enemy kill them in game...

Simple solutions...

1. Implement a dice in champion select to allow people to roll for the same position.

2. Simply add a line of text when people enter champion select that position is given in order. If you are first pick you have first pick of position. It is up to you if you want to give it up.

There isn't a single tip that says "if you ally is having a hard time in lane, consider aiding them rather than criticizing them."

The attitude of league at the moment is "if you playing bad you are spoiling my game and I will abuse / threaten to report you for it."

When you actually take the effort to communicate with your team and your team actually aids weaker players the mood in games greatly improves. The trouble is that Riot provides little guidance on doing this.

For all their research the implementations based on the research sucks.


There are a couple of points I'd have to disagree with you. - Firstly, I'd bet that several report options, especially the "unskilled player" one, are just placebo that do nothing, and provides the upset player a scapegoat to fire on, without negatively affect anything. A rather nice solution actually.

- There IS a minimum time requirement that you have to spend on each case (90 seconds, I think). People who punishes every case and run 90% accuracy on the league table could mean that, the priori of a player getting to Tribunal being banned is 90%. Which means that the automate system that put up Tribunal cases are doing a great job! Of course there could be other explanation. But I recalled Riots used to have a "pardon day" that they actively asked banned player to post in a thread, so that a human will actively review the cases. I don't think more than a dozen accounts were really edge cases.

- There are an option when you create new account to choose which type of players you are (there were 3 of them: new to MOBA, new to League, experienced, I think). I don't think it helped the smurf situation at all. The type of players that are banned would be more likely to be the type of players that like to "pwn" new players.

- There are a tip that says "Your teammate performs worse if you harass them"

- Adding the dice roll for the game is infeasible, for the reason that the metagame's roles (top, ad, support, mid, and even the jungle in the past) are created by the players, not Riot. Unlike WOW, in which roles (tank, healer, dps) are specifically designed by Blizzard, the roles in League are strongly defined by the metagame at the time. It's not that Riot doesn't design a champion with a specific set of characteristics in mind, it's just that the range of role a champion can do varies quite a bit: in WoW, a dps trying to tank will be killed in half a second. In League, we used to have mainstream range AD mid, tanky mid, caster mid, assassin AD mid, teemo mid etc. There's no way to meaningfully classify "roles" or even "lanes" position properly - who knows if one day we might have 1 - 3 - 1 laning like dota?


I was about to make most of those points, but in terms of meta... there are exactly four gold streams (3 lanes + jungle). They could have people roll for one of those. And no, pickpocket does not count as a real gold stream, any more than GP10s do. I say that as a support Janna main.

Yes, there have been a few crazy strats, like the tournament game with the "jungle" Heimerdinger where they ran a push comp after their opponent picks had boxed the other team into a corner, but that sort of thing requires team coordination, in which case you're not worried about calling roles in the first place.

Matchmaking is a real problem and it sets people up for failure. There are plenty of people who are simply not prepared to jungle or support. Or, heck, depending on their lack of runes, they might not be able to tank, AP or ADC. You can say "you don't really need runes" but when you have little practice already, going in unprepared is only going to make it worse. I've supported without GP10s due to forgetting to change from a full ADC setup in champ select. It's painful, sightstone or no sightstone to be that poor, even if it was hilarious to ignite a poor, unsuspecting enemy Sona for first blood at level 1.


From memory, the Unskilled Player report option just tweaked their matchmaking a little.


It doesn't even do that, these days. It's there to let assholes vent their rage while not filling up the queue with useless reports.


I've judged in several tribunals. While there are reporting options like unskilled player, the tribunal makes it very clear that a player cannot be censured for that. It allows complainers to report, but riot never punishes for it.


I believe that at one point -if it doesn't still say this- the "Unskilled Player" report option mentioned that such a report wouldn't go to the Tribunal, but would alter matchmaking in such a way as to make it less likely that you would be matched with that player.


> have completely failed

> doesn't work

From my point of view it's working wonders. Have you played the game long before and after these changes? It's day and night.


I play LoL now for years. In my impression, your very first sentence is wrong: Riots implementation changed the behaviour profoundly and made playing LoL with random noobs way more friendly. It is still not perfect of course - what you described happens - but the game is way less toxic than it was before. Immediately after the introduction of the honor-system it felt like playing a different game, the impact was astonishing.

> Another issue with the tribunal is that it punishes for almost anything. If you say GG after 9 minutes... its punishable. If end the game saying gg easy... its punishable.

Both of your examples should be punishable. Especially "gg easy" is the most anti-social behaviour possible in a game. People like that should get banned instantly and forever - from the whole internet.

> At best Riot have shifted the problem from verbal abuse to threatening to report.

Which is a great achievement by itself, if true. Reporting someone as unskilled player does no harm, at the most it leads to an adjustment in the hidden elo. Way better than insults.

> 1. Add a tip pointing out a mute button exists... It took me 80 games of randomly being shit on before someone told me about the mute button. If someone starts to spout abuse I just click the ignore button. Problem sorted.

This is great behaviour. LoL does mention that button though. But I agree it could be more prominent.

> 2. They could give headstart smurf accounts to people who tick an option saying they are experienced players. This would help noobie players play against each other and have a soft intro to the game.

One has to be careful with that. Banning has to be a huge punishment, everything that helps experienced players with the game start can therefore be dangerous.

> 3. They could improve the tutorial so players actually start with some idea of what they are doing.

I was under the impression they did that with the new tutorial, with ingame-hints and such stuff?

> 4. They could make the early climb on new accounts start versus bots to force people to actually get a feel for the game before throwing them into PvP

True. But it has the issue of driving people to bot-games. PvP is the core of LoL and the botgame-players are their own subculture which I don't know if it should be supported... So also not as easy as it sounds.

I agree with the toxicness of the champion selection (though if someone says mid or feed, let them feed and report them. Haven't seen that in ages, so those people get banned). Riot does as well, I wonder what they will come up with. Picking a lane prior could work well, especially if combined with a system where the meta can be selected ("I want to play top in a top-mid-jungler-adc-supp-setup") or neglected.

> There isn't a single tip that says "if you ally is having a hard time in lane, consider aiding them rather than criticizing them."

Not true.

> The attitude of league at the moment is "if you playing bad you are spoiling my game and I will abuse / threaten to report you for it."

Sometimes that happens, but you should simply ignore and report those people (when not ranked. Then you should do the same, but only if the criticism is unjustified).

Best way to deal with all of this is of course to play with a premade team.


this is the kind of attitude that I knew the tribunal would foster.

   People like that should get banned instantly and forever - from the whole internet.
yup. Nope. You should not have power.


I thought the hyperbole was obvious.


I play about 3 - 4 games of league per day and have over 3000 games played. My personal solution is to try and be the same as I would be face to face. Occasionally, I do get toxic and call someone an "idiot" but I never use stronger language than that. I enjoyed the presentation and it looks like Riot has some smart people actively working on problems. My only lament is the lack of smart people working in customer support. I've never been treated so badly as a paying customer. With 108MM players, I wonder how much I have to spend to get good customer support? Maybe it doesn't matter to Riot if they treat paying customers badly? I'll never know. Riot isn't getting any more of my money. I have other friends that spent at least twice as much as I have and they just won't play anymore simply because of a negative customer support experience. It doesn't take a PhD to know that paying customers make your business successful.


Even though MOBAs are inherent breeding grounds for trolls due to the captive nature of the game, Riot has done themselves (and everyone else) no favors in how they've dealt with things. For a game that was released in 2009 they've done an astonishingly bad job at working from the start to prevent things that _anyone_ who had played multiplayer games in the past 10 years could've predicted.

Even now they seem more interested in allowing and studying the behavior than preventing it. Combine that with their poor-to-completely-dysfunctional matchmaking and the total lack of incentive to even play when your next 20-60 minutes are held hostage by a troll (whether it's on your team, the enemy team intentionally provoking things since forcing opponents to rage or afk is a valid "strategy", or both) and it's hard to take them seriously on toxic players.


My favorite moment in this whole saga was when they started giving awards for being marked as pleasant/helpful by other people. Players were pretty religious about being quiet and saying 'gg' for the first couple weeks- they were grinding awards.

It wore off.


This is fascinating! And they don't even talk about their last point "showing what is good, encouraging good behavior" but they now have a "honor" system where you can give other players badges for their good behavior. They now have that as well in CS:GO and Dota2. And it's working.

I was surprised to see a complete shift of attitude, and I think this was the most efficient point (too bad they didn't talk about it). People now say GG before and after every game, it actually looks really superficial, like they're only being brown nose to get good badges.


I don't play LoL or CS:GO or DOTA2, but I do play a lot of Call of Duty (yeah, yeah I know, real gamers look down their noses at COD players -- I play mostly because it is what my IRL friends play online and it is a great way to socialize with them regularly).

The idea of the wider player community deciding who is or isn't an honorable/good player is absolutely terrifying as a COD/FPS player where large swaths of the community think you're a "n00b camper" if you play the game even slightly strategically. Every FPS I've played (as far back as Doom LAN on PCs) has been like this where the game supports many different weapons and play styles but community majority tends to decide what small subset of those are "good" play, and which are "cheap", "overpowered", etc.

So... meeh, I personally am not a huge fan of the player community being in charge of this stuff. YMMV depending upon which games you play and the average maturity of their community, I suppose.


LoL is a PC game, thus the community is more mature. But I don't think that's the reason the Tribunal is working.

If you take a look at it, it's really well made. It uses gamification, it rewards you with riot points (that you usually have to spend real coins to get!) and is apart from the game. By that I mean that when you're in the Tribunal, it has nothing to do with the game. It's like another game where the goal is to be wise and good.

Also many players have to decide whether or not the player is getting a ban. And as someone else said here, you rarely see players complaining when they don't deserve it.

> I personally am not a huge fan of the player community being in charge of this stuff.

It's either that or robots that would do it. The playerbase is way too big to pay people to do this job.


Started playing LoL when the Mac Client came out beginning of last month, and have played an unhealthy amount since. The systems in place are nice (and I appreciate them and take advantage of them), but there are of course still those toxic players. Thankfully it's super easy to hit a mute button and never hear them again! But that requires the player to know about the feature and have the willpower to use it instead of responding in kind (as is often the case). Once I started muting toxic players my quality of gaming skyrocketed.


Why doesn't LoL just disable public chat? Enable chat for premades, that's it. If you're playing with your own friends you can chat. If you're playing with randoms, you don't get chat. Toxic behavior gone and people can actually, you know, play the game. The purpose is to play the game, not use it as 1998 AOL Chat Room.


In a game like this, you need to cooperate, even with randoms. They now introduced a ping-system where you can select specific pings via a radial menu, which makes it possible to signal missing enemies to your team and warn players in specific situations. But even that system, as great as i think it is, lacks some signals. For example, how to communicate that the ping before was a mistake by using pings alone? You couldn't signal the basics needed for this game without writing.

Also, if you want to help a player with a build or talk about the bigger strategy, you normally need to talk to your team. Not being able to do that could lead to frustrations and harm the game even more than the occasional insult does right now.

How to sort out champion selection before the game without a chat?


It looks to me that the answer was to disable chat by default in all games. I like this a lot in console games, for example in Dark Souls summoned players bow to one another (or use other gestures), but for a PC game that's based on team work this is just giving up.


Feedback doesn't always indicate what he said.

If there was cross team chat and someone voted Honourable Opponent doesn't mean it was positive cross team chat.




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