Riot’s well aware of the fact that it has an awful community on its hands in League of Legends. Fortunately for all concerned, the company is killing the problem with science.
Team Player Behavior is a group of 30 developers tasked with reducing negativity, abuse, and offensive language, and it includes PhDs in statistics, human factors psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. “We’re never going to come to a place where there’s no toxicity in League of Legends,” says Jeffrey Lin, LoL’s lead designer of social systems. “We’re never going to get there. But we’re finding different strategies [for situations where] if toxic behavior happens, how do we shield players from it? How do we reduce the frequency of it?”
Riot is tinkering with solutions ranging from the recently released honor system to turning off chat by default. The company has also seen some success with its tribunal system, and Lin cites an instance where a 10-year-old LoL player responded positively to the disciplinary action handed down via a Riot reform card.
“I showed [the boy’s response] to the team and I said ‘can you guys see the difference you’re making in peoples’ lives? This is not about games anymore, you guys are impacting these players,'” Lin explained.
I’ve always felt like the problem with the game is how the MOBA score system works. If i have a bad player on my team in 4vs4 starcraft, well now its like 3.5 vs 4. You can recover from that and the bad player isn’t making YOU play worse. In LoL, because the opponent gets stronger if they kill your bad player, the effect is amplified. Now my opponent is stronger than me just because they have gotten more kills (and levels/gear) off of our dead-weight team member. There is no way to avoid the fact that this will cause resentment.