Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Only 5% of my neighbors are convicted criminals

Would you boast about only 5% of your neighbors being convicted criminals? Probably not. In fact such a rate of criminal behavior in your community would probably be enough to lower house prices and see many people packing. So I agree with Tremayne that it is somewhat curious that League of Legends is proud that 95% of their players haven't received official disciplinary action last year. Not only is 5% of people that are behaving so badly that they get various forms of bans far too much, but it also is indicative of a far greater number of jerks who simply aren't caught, or who behave badly but just under the degree that gets banned.

When the UK last month announced a new law giving 2 years of prison to internet trolls, people joked that their jails would be full after half an hour of League of Legends. LoL has become the poster child of games with a toxic community. And I wonder why that is so. I don't believe that it is related to the genre. Regardless of whether Blizzard's new Heroes of the Storm brings anything new to the genre, the one thing you can be sure about is that the community will be better policed and less toxic.

So why do you think League of Legends stands out for bad online behavior? And what could be done about it?

How many of your neighbours have received a fine for speeding or parking?
There is no written justice system in LoL, you report players and then the community rates the crime.
I think the main reason Lol is so bad is
a) It's free so it attracts lots of immature kids who can't afford paid games. Of course this isn't unique to it but they do make it very easy to create a new account so losing one by behaving badly isn't a big loss.

b) Games that last a long time, so if someone plays badly/trolls/afks it be 45 minutes to an hours of your time wasted.

c) A games system where it's easy to identify who's playing badly so you can flame them.

d) The biggest player base in online games. So totally anonymous. You can be a dick to someone and you'll probably never play with them again.

Also it's worth thinking about what the disciplinary actions are for. I used to play Lol but after the birth of my second child I tried to play but kept having to leave halfway through games - after 4-5 screaming baby related afks, which sad to say probably ruined that game for the people on my team I was given a warning. I took the hint and stopped playing. So I'd be one of the 5% but I don't think I'm a troll or in any way comparable to the ragers and intentional feeder.

I've been lucky enough to get into the Heroes of the storm alpha and I think they have done some things to improve. The games are shorter, your team gets xp as a whole so it's harder for one player to fall behind and it doesn't display your deaths and kills so it's not so obvious who is dragging you down. That said I've still had someone insult me for not playing that well in a game that hasn't been released and that I've only played 4-5 times. I don't think there is a magic bullet and if HOTS is successful it will have trolls aplenty.
As long as the internet remains completely anonymous people will be tempted to behave badly.

I'm not advocating that we use our real names for everything, one beauty of the internet IS that its anonymous, but I think game designers need to factor those things when they make their games.

Look at Hearthstone. The fact that you can't communicate with others let's people enjoy it in peace. Even Destiny with its opt in chat let's you play without hearing others if you don't want too.
Considering WoW isn't exactly a poster child for players behaving well, I'm sure that Heroes of the Storm will have it's problems too.

Sam pretty much nailed it in my opinion.

I live in a part of the US where 5% or more of my neighbors might actually have convictions. Or at least it wouldn't surprise me if it was the case. Although here in the US you have to remember that the fast majority of our criminals were convicted for victimless crimes.

This actually got my curiosity up enough to do some googling.
Team oriented PvP games will always have a toxic community, simply because when you lose the knee jerk reaction is to find who 'dragged you down'. HotS tends to obfuscate who among your teamates failed and this is a saving grace that will hopefully keep nasty attitudes to a minimum.

In the end, what Blizzard needs to do is when HotS launches, they ban trolls fast and hard. And by ban, I mean the entire B-Net account, not just access to the game. Just the fear of losing access to D3, WoW and HS will reign the majority of bad behaviour in.
@Chris-- I'd like to see Blizz do that now with WoW, but they haven't in a long while.
There are little to no repercussions.

The game is slow paced enough that people have the time to watch other players and give them shit if they don't play the way they want to.

Call of Duty has too many people and is too fast paced.

World of Tanks certainly has a lot of assholes, but also has an easy ignore function, and the games are pretty large.

Slow pace, small teams, no long term repercussions. And there you go.
I also agree with Sam Bellman, but would like to add a few things as well.

If you talk to players who participate in the Tribunal, you hear that even the worst, most horrifically offensive stuff that would make 4chan blush will only get 1-2 reports, out of the 9 other players in the game. Most people just don't bother reporting, because the impression (due to how toxic the community still is) is that reporting does nothing. Obviously, this is circular. The community is toxic, because every other game you play is toxic and reporting feels futile (LoL has no feedback from reporting, or any indication your reports go anywhere but the garbage bin), so you just stop reporting.

This also brings a statistical problem. With a few exceptions, most toxic players will only be toxic in a loss. And even then, he will only get reported a small portion of the time, because most players don't bother. So you have a situation where even a player who is toxic at every opportunity will only be reported maybe 5% of the time. Combine that will false reporting (reporting a player who simply played badly, or the toxic player starting a fight and reporting his victim, etc.), and it is easy to see how it can be very hard to weed out the truly toxic players from the "noise."

The last problem I can't really explain why, but it appears the LoL community feels that as long as you are not blatantly homophobic, racist, or otherwise bigoted, it is perfectly acceptable to be a complete jerk and berate other players. For example, calling someone a "noob," or the worst mid-laner ever, or telling them how stupid they are, or anything similar that you would never say to a real person's face. This includes when you actually ARE a "noob," and really will play poorly. It is easy to see why LoL earns such a horrible reputation, since players who are just trying the game are immediately hit with the most toxic part of the experience.

As for why these types of games produce such toxicity (the rest of the genre is just as bad, Heroes of Newerth is actually supposed to be WORSE, and DOTA 2 slightly better), the games have a somewhat unfortunate combination. We are willing to forgive the mistakes of our "friends," but not those of strangers. It is problematic for high pressure games where you will always be thrown in with strangers. And as Sam Bellman alluded to, when a big mistake happens that costs you the game (and actually, it can often be a rather small mistake costing you the game), the game isn't over instantly. You will usually have several minutes to play out in a hopeless situation, plenty of time to stew and play the blame game.
The main problem: in LoL a team is as good as its worst member. 4 excellent + 1 feeder loses to 5 mediocre who are capable of "hug the damn tower".

So if you have a particularly bad teammate (and you'll have) like a second mid, a carry who doesn't carry or a jungler who doesn't go to the jungle, you are screwed and there is nothing you can do to help it.

Since you can't quit (bannable), all you can do is flame the guy.
This is a silly argument. Tell me if there is any professional soccer team in which only 5% of the players have received a yellow card in the last year? There is none!
You don't get "yellow cards" in LoL for "rough play". And soccer player nearly exclusively foul players from the OTHER team, while LoL players are nearly exclusively disciplined for actions against members of their own team. If you need an analogy, how many soccer players punched somebody from their own team in the face last year?
In over 3 years of play in LoL, I've had toxic behavior in my games a handful of times. I've made an equal amount of reports (barring reporting afk/leavers). It's really not as bad as people say, that is as long as you actually try to get better at it.

Once you've improved a bit and get past the trolls in the lower ranks, you don't see much of that kind of stuff anymore.

I think Riot has gone with the "bragging" about only 5% of players (which has to be a pretty small number compared to overall player numbers) because they were labelled as toxic for a long time, and want to show that things have improved. I'd agree that they have.

But being a multi-national game, I am only speaking of the NA server, I have no idea how it is in other regions.
Izlain said:

But being a multi-national game, I am only speaking of the NA server, I have no idea how it is in other regions.

And this right here hints at how to answer Tobold's last sentence question.

If you want to reduce the effect anonymity has in any game, Localization will go a long way in reducing the effects of the Penny Arcade meme. The cultural diversity phenom is becoming more prevalent in an age where voice chat, in-your-face stats and forced groupings are often required.

Are games pushing the concept of a Utopian landscape where all players are expected to get along and behave?

Are we really arguing about people being asshats because they can be anonymous, without considering that the same subset of players making reports are hiding behind the same veil of anonymity?

I rallied behind the RealID system that Blizzard implemented, and to this day it is one of the best social tools that I could have as a player. Why other players continue to cry about trolls and jerks, while at the same time decrying RealID, goes beyond logic.
What's your definition of a 'neighbor'? Having spent several years in NYC, I'd say for the statistical majority of the U.S. population its fairly impossible not to have a neighbor that's not only a 'convicted criminal' - but a neighbor that's committed a violent crime.

And no, traffic tickets don't count.
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