With the League of Legends developer taking steps to improve player conduct, Marcus Mac Dhonnagáin asks whether others can follow its lead
Offensive behavior by some players has always been a major issue for online games. To confront the issue, League of Legends developer Riot has recently implemented new restrictions that limit the chat system for players under review for toxic conduct. The moba developer hopes the change will encourage fair play, as well as dissuade hateful speech within its community.
Speaking in a blog post, the developer explained why it was implementing the changes, saying, “In an effort to encourage active reform and shield players from toxicity, we’ve implemented a new account restriction that limits in-game chat for toxic players.”
The restriction will also limit troublesome players to sending a smaller number of in-game messages. However, a player can redeem themselves by completing a number of matchmaking games without being offensive or causing problems for others.
The internet is no stranger to vile conduct. Nearly anywhere you go, you’ll find some nasty or offensive commenters. These users are nearly always anonymous, freeing themselves to say anything they want without fear of any real consequences. Although there are systems in place to limit these people, it’s impossible to snuff it out entirely. This problem has branded many online game communities with bad reputations. Mobas such as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2 are infamous for their unfriendly player-bases.
Yet, Riot has shown that it is aware of this problem, and has taken measures to try to stamp it out. More companies should follow suit, particularly Microsoft and Sony. XBL and PSN are also notorious for negative behavior. Whether it’s someone spewing hateful, racist or misogynist spiel via a microphone or a poorly spelled message, the atmosphere on both companies networks shows they need to do more in order to cut out as much of it as they can. This isn’t to say both companies don’t have safeguards already in place, but they could take a much more proactive stance on the matter.
The academic video game discussion show Extra Credits has also spoken on the issue. With input from several different experts in the field, Extra Credits offered a number of suggestions for how companies could deal with the issue. The first was to use the metric of how many times an individual player was muted. If it reached a certain amount, then they recommend that the player be automatically muted – but other players could still unmute the player if they so wished. Another suggestion included limiting players who do not receive a reply to 80 percent of their messages to just messaging with their friends.
The show also recommended that communication could be earned by players, by achieving a certain in-game score. The thinking behind this idea was that it would prevent users from simply creating a new account once they found themselves unable to speak. It admitted, however, this would also limit the larger, friendly player base from communicating as well.
These are some of the solutions that Microsoft and Sony should adopt in order to foster better online communities. Riot has recognized that negative player behavior has a destructive impact on all users. Though it will be impossible to remove negative behavior entirely, it has shown that it is willing to steer the League of Legends community into a more a positive place, thus giving the game a friendlier atmosphere to all its players. If other companies do the same, then online gaming will become a more enjoyable space for everyone.
Follow Marcus on Twitter: @M_M_DH