League of Legends uses a Tribunal system to police player behaviour, with reportedly impressive results.
League of Legends players vote in the Tribunal on instances of behaviour flagged as toxic, and these votes are used to improve the automated systems that detect further instances of such behaviour.
Writing in a blog post on Recode, Riot’s Jeffrey “Lyte” Lin said the developer has opened this system to academic researchers, and intends to expand it to include incentives for positive behaviour, too. But even in its current form it’s had a dramatic effect on the culture of League of Legends.
“As a result of these governance systems changing online cultural norms, incidences of homophobia, sexism and racism in League of Legends have fallen to a combined 2% of all games,” he said.
“Verbal abuse has dropped by more than 40%, and 91.6% of negative players change their act and never commit another offense after just one reported penalty. These results have inspired us, because we realize that this isn’t an impossible problem after all.”
Riot has been talking about how effective the Tribunal system is for years, but these startling statistics make it a lot easier to believe in the face of the MOBA genre’s reputation for toxicity.
The full post is full of fascinating insight into Riot’s ongoing efforts to shape a more positive online gaming culture.
“Our team found that if you classified online citizens from negative to positive, the vast majority of negative behavior (which ranges from trash talk to non-extreme but still generally offensive language) did not originate from the persistently negative online citizens,” Lin wrote, for example.
“In fact, 87% of online toxicity came from the neutral and positive citizens just having a bad day here or there.”
I think it’s worth noting that toxic culture is more than just using slurs; the machine may be getting very good at preventing players from calling each other offensive names, but is it teaching them not to be massive jerks in other ways?
Even if it isn’t, the language we use is super important, and if this behavioural change affects players in their lives beyond League of Legends, it’s pretty cool. Let’s hope other online communities follow suit.