Monday, September 24, 2012

A Full Mug of Mead, Tip #7: Laying Down the Law

I poke fun on this website at the fact that during at least one game of League of Legends during your time playing it you are most likely going to be cursed at by what appears to be a drunken sailor on shore leave but is most likely a thirteen year old kid or a twenty-seven year old, well, kid.

What I've left out, so far, however, is the fact that Riot Games has created an intricate and awesome system designed to slowly weed out and improve the quality of the play experience by punishing players who engage in behaviors that are negative for the growth of the game.

The Tribunal -- A interactive voting system that allows LoL players to view incidents of negative behavior and punish or pardon accused parties based on the reports generated by allies and enemies during play. Anyone who is level 20 or higher can participate, and to get started, you can head to the Tribunal webpage to help make the game more fun and accessible for everyone.

Now that the definition is out of the way, I wanted to go through why you should join in and also why I think it is such a fantastic use of the community.

1) Everyone gets upset sometimes, especially playing a highly competitive game with strangers through the anonymity of the internet. Of course, that circumstance also gives rise to that ridiculously annoying ability to tell absolutely everyone just how upset you are and how it's the lag or hackers or bad teammates and never, ever, ever anything that you did wrong. And occasionally, people take that anonymity and vent their frustration in the game chat, bellowing slurs and insults that would make the most hardened racist blush. When that happens, its no good for anyone, not even the person exorcising their demons through verbal diarrhea. Having the Tribunal in place means that if you do it repeatedly, Riot will find out, and you will suffer the consequences of your immaturity.

2) As a result of that, the Tribunal has the potential to, over time, influence League of Legends players in a way that is tremendously positive, especially once it was revealed that Riot plans to implement a honor system that would reward teaching, mentoring, compliments, skilled play, teamwork, and all of the best aspects of an entertaining League game. You can read more about that by clicking on this hyperlinked sentence that you are still reading for some reason.

3) By creating a system where it is the players themselves who mete out punishment against offenders, Riot has ingeniously incorporated public shaming into their enforcement policies. It seems likely that occasionally Riot bypasses the Tribunal system, and just as likely that the Tribunal makes mistakes from time to time, but overall, the communal aspect of the policing duties makes it hard for someone who is aware of the activity of the Tribunal to blindly ignore it.

There are other games that use similar systems, but I genuinely feel as though Riot is extremely proactive in dealing with community issues, especially given the fact that the game is free to download and thus fosters an environment that could be flush with trolls and trollish behavior. The fact that there is not a surfeit of troublesome players can be linked directly to the success of the Tribunal, and the continual presence of assertive policing by the community that enjoys playing the game so much.

For more information about the Tribunal, or if you have any additional questions about how it works, check out the official FAQ here:

Until next time, may all your ultimates end in kills and all your games with "Victory."

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