Can the League of Legends Tribunal System cut it?

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There has been a lot of talk recently about the free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) League of Legends, and why not? The community grows larger every day with millions of people watching tournaments and feeds. The community that’s there is very devoted to their game of choice. In many ways, it’s life to them. However, the recent publicity hasn’t been of the positive variety with the latest news being the banning of a pro player due to excessive immature behavior.

Riot Games spoke to Gamasutra about how they are handling the negative behavior in-house. According to lead producer Travis George, the team responsible for looking into ways to deal with negative behavior is called PB&J or the Player Behavior and Justice Team. There’s also the “Tribunal System.” According to the League of Legends website, the Tribunal works as such:

“The Tribunal identifies players who have been consistently reported by the community over a large number of games and builds a Tribunal case for them. These cases are presented to random community members who use the Tribunal who then review the case files and render a judgment—pardon or punish. Player Support then uses this information to help assign the right penalties to the right players.”

Apparently, the Tribunal wasn’t enough for “summoner” IWillDominate, or Christian Rivera to his parents. The pro player that was permanently banned. Which begs the question – can negative attitudes in League of Legends or e-sports in general, be effectively policed?

If one takes a look at the structure of League of Legends, they can see that the game has a heavy influence on team-based play; it is a 5v5 game after all. If one player isn’t at their best, the whole team is affected. This is often the center of the negativity that players have to deal with – competitive players can’t seem to help but get caught up in the moment and go off on their teammates for poor play or bad connections or whatever is going wrong.

League of Legends is also stat based. Stats get recorded such as kills, minion kills and wins. Players can “honor” one another based on teamwork, helpfulness, friendliness, and being an honorable opponent. In fact, players with high numbers of honor get rewarded badges and medals that are supposed to entice players to promote positive play.

In my short time with the game, the biggest problem I have come across is players getting frustrated and abandoning games. Oddly, this happened more on English speaking teams as opposed to my match-ups with foreign players. A few players have also got upset and began berating the team despite themselves being the problem.

The fact is no one wants to see a loss on their record despite the fact that stats like kills and honor are still kept despite a loss. A typical game goes on for about 30 minutes, and the outcome of the game can usually be decided in the first ten depending on the skill of each team. That’s 20 minutes of battle that may not matter in the long run. Surrender is voted for a lot around this time to prevent feeding the other team kills.

This is the why but where’s the how?

There’s really no concrete answer to that yet. Physical sports have shown that bans and fines are not a problem when it comes to trash talking between teams, they will gladly pay them to run their mouths. If Riot Games was to place negative effects on the offending player that would only serve to upset the team the player is on – no one would want to play with this person and that creates a whole other problem. Shaming them is no good; this is the Internet, a place where shame has no place. Banning them will only do so much though it seems to be getting some remorse out of Christian Rivera as he spoke out about his banning:

“Today I was informed by Riot that I will be suspended for 1 year of the Season 3 Championship Series. Although the ruling is extremely tough, I agree with Riot that player sportsmanship is a serious matter, and I want to apologize to anyone that I’ve offended in-game and my fans. I fully understand that pro players are viewed as role models and should act accordingly. I’d like to thank my teammates and the whole Dignitas organization for the amazing year that I have spent with them and wish the team the best of luck going into season 3. Personally, I will not let this end my dreams of being a professional League of Legends player. During my suspension I intend to keep my mechanics in top form and remain a competitive jungler. After my suspension I hope to rejoin the championship series and once again compete at the highest level. League of Legends is my life, and I will do everything in my power to play as long as possible.”

It should be noted that League of Legends isn’t the only gaming community with this problem or really even the worst. The fighting game community is probably more hostile than the League of Legends community. Starcraft, Call of Duty, and Halo communities are notorious for having hostile communities as well.

Something like the Tribunal is a good start but it’s not a long-term solution. There are many factors to consider in players, some are just jerks and others are just competitive. The PB&J team is supposedly compromised of people from various backgrounds including those with a PhD in neuroscience. Maybe they can crack the code to figuring out how to maintain positive behavior in competitive games. There’s probably a Noble Peace prize in it for them if they do. Until then, a good coat of thick skin is advised to be worn at all times and remember people; it’s just a game.

Site [League of Legends]

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