Peer rewards for good behavior take a bite out of trolling and griefing in MMO

The Mary Sue's Becky Chambers rounds up the coverage and analysis of an anti-trolling/griefing experiment in League of Legends, a massively multiplayer online RPG battle arena. League's management hired a team of social scientists who designed a system of peer-rewards that allowed users to hand each other publicly visible points for positive, friendly interactions (there was already a system of reporting bad behavior and meting out punishments, but it wasn't working very well). Unlike previous attempts to use public reward to improve behavior, this one was not yet turned into a back-scratching system where friends just vote one another up, and has reportedly resulted in massive improvements in the quality of group interactions.

Ten days after Honor went live, an update from Dr. Lyte appeared on the official LoL blog, detailing the global changes they’d noticed in reported bad behavior:

Negative Attitude reports: -29% in normals and -11% in ranked
Offensive Language reports: -35% in normals and -20% in ranked
Verbal Abuse reports: -41% in normals -17% in ranked

Check that out. Ten days of a voluntary system that grants nothing more than a tiny perk for being amiable, and folks were already cleaning up their acts. Of course, these stats only show a decline of reported incidents, which, while encouraging, is could be different than how things look down in the trenches. As LoL is not part of my repertoire, I took to Twitter earlier this week to get the word on the street. Lo and behold, players are indeed noticing a difference.

I first got some feedback from a player named Paige, who cites LoL as her favorite game despite the “negativity and hostility” within the community. In her opinion, Honor is a welcome addition. “Players seem to be making more of an effort to be just generally friendly,” she wrote in an email, noting that she’s seen a slight improvement in cross-team chat. She also pointed out that this hasn’t prevented insults from flying when a match goes badly, but nonetheless, she’s glad for a way to give props for good behavior.

So Far, So Good: League of Legends Takes An Honorable Approach To Improving Player Behavior (via Techdirt)


  1. As an avid League of Legends player, I feel compelled to point out that League is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), not an MMORPG. The difference is comparable to the difference between a banana and an orange.

  2. I can see that there may be good reasons not to have social networking features like Friending in discussion systems like reddit and disqus. Voting works quite there as well but anonymity helps as well.

  3. As a former player, I found LoL to be one of the most vicious and trollish communities I have ever been exposed to.

    And that isn’t a commentary on the players in general. The percentage of trolls was no higher than any other game. The problems are more structural. Due to the way the game is designed and implemented there are a large numbers of behavious open to trolls that not only allow for harassment but actively interfere with other players ability to play the game.

    It’s like a ten-way game of prisoner’s dilemma where everyone has a button that instantly screws the other players. With that kind of setup it doesn’t take a large population of trolls to have a disproportionate impact.

    1. I’m not sure about LoL, but in Dota 2, you can report players for negative behaviour, and they will be put in a low priority queue for match making after the reports are investigated.

      It is immensely satisfying to log in, and receive a prompt advising “We’ve recently taken action against one or more of the players you’ve filed reports against. Thanks for making the Dota 2 community a better place!”  

      1. Including that feature in LoL would make me feel a lot better. Some players don’t know where to stop at the trash-talk line, and it’s incredibly disruptive to gameplay. In LoL Philippines, cross-team chat is disabled by default, and while I have noticed that trash-talk has considerably lessened, it’s a shame that such a heavy-handed measure had to be used simply because certain people are douchebags.

  4. Valve’s Dota 2, while not technically released yet (it’s currently a closed beta you can pay to get into) also has this feature, which was included from the start. 

    I’m glad to see more companies providing a way to give positive feedback. 

    In the game like LoL or Dota, where you are required to play with other players, any way you can encourage positive behaviour is a good thing.

  5. Reminds me of an experiment I did years ago when teaching. Students had to turn in 6 or 7 abstracts of scientific articles. The first quarter the abstracts were worth a maximum of 15 points, but untyped abstracts lost 5 points (OK, so you know how long ago this was . . .). the next term, the abstracts were worth 10 points and typed abstracts got a 5 pt bonus.
    Exact same net: 10 pt untyped; 15 pt typed.
    I got way more abstracts turned in typed the second term and had far fewer complaints about finding typewriters or having going up to campus to the new computer center and trying out those word processor things.

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