How to eliminate toxic players from MOBA games?

There is no doubt that toxic behavior of players in MOBA games is a real problem. It mainly concerns the leaders on the market – DotA 2 and League of Legends. How developers fight with bearish players?

I started to play Defense of the Ancients about 5 months ago. This is a real fun! DotA is extremely complicated and engaging game. But there is one thing I really don’t like about this title – it’s society. I cannot understand how writing and sending so vulgar and offensive messages can be accepted by so many people. Everyday I must hear a lot of verbal harassment etc.” Opinions like that can be easily found on forums related to the LoL or DotA 2. Some people say that multiplayer productions are based on social experiences. If the society is evil, the game is evil too. If the players want their beloved game to evolve, they should create a friendly environment for others to start their adventure. Is this possible?

MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games like League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients or upcoming Heroes of the Storm, everyday become more and more popular. A huge part of the players is taking competition very seriously. If someone shows lack of knowledge about the game’s rules, has smaller experience that „pros”, or accidentally cause his lose the battle, he can expect to hear and read a real rain of insults and threats. And the problem concern not only ambitious teens, but the professional players too.

When the result of the match determines who will take big money, even the pros can easily compromise themselves. In 2012, 20-year old Christian Riviera, widely known as IwillDominate, was banned from League Championship Series for a whole year because of toxic behavior. Apparently verbal insulting, harassment or using vulgarisms don’t fit to the professional e-sport player, who should give example for growing League of Legends society. The penalty was harsh, but we must remember that this is the main reason why MOBA games have so poor reputation. Ignoring or muting others causes that we cannot enjoy the full potential of the game and it’s features. We cannot eliminate players, who leave matches and block the opportunity for others to develop their skills but we must do something to eliminate annoying, rude behaviours. Developers are not powerless and have their own tactics for this fight.

MOBA Championship

Welcome to DotA, You Suck”. This is what we read in the very beginning of guide for „n00bs” on the official Purge Games site. Nobody even tries to fools us that we came into a world of stress-free, relaxing gameplay with our friends or hardcore players, that will help us. No, this is a war and you’ll be treated like a recruit. If you don’t like it, you can always play Sims or Angry Birds. In this kind of games, where teamwork and cooperation is the most important thing, everybody wants to remove the weak link. That is what players say and they admit that everybody should toughen up before he starts to play this game, because mistakes are not welcome. During the match it is very easy to find out, who is new in the game. Situation, when somebody makes a scapegoat of other to hide his own weaknesses, is very common. Some part of those loudmouths simply want to blow off steam after a bad day. Very often it is nothing personal and we can hear vulgarisms without special reason. This is disturbing, because many players now thinks that insulting is an integral part of the game, if it is not to strong and is addressed only to the players on the battlefield, excluding family members etc.

Riot Games studio by the end of 2012 established a special unit called Player behavior and Justice Team. Their mission is to examine trolling in internet and minimize it’s destructive effects. Travis George, the main producer of the game said that trolling is a very sad phenomenon and they must study it. They got some very talented people in their in-game „police” squad, such us cognitive neuro scientist or behavioral psychologist. They find trends in player’s behavior, check how many times players meet with negative attitudes. They believe that people taunt each other mainly for sport and they can win with it.

They created an Honor System that rewards positive behaviors The idea is very simple and similar to ordinary animal training. Paw giving is replaced by giving hand to beginners, who can award their mentors with special distinctions, such us Friendlyhelpful etc. Every user can give a limited amount of those distinctions, so if we found such thing in our profile, we can be very proud. Those badges are not only for decoration – if we gather some amount, we will be able to unlock special content, exclusive skins for our heroes and more. This seems to be a clever way to stop limit rude behavior of players and it gives nice results in comparison to threats of kicking out of the server or ban.

Riot Games seems to understand that pleasure, which comes with the game should be always the most important thing, not winning at all costs. If someone abuse others it means that he is emotionally immature. In the end not everybody are born professionals and everyone deserves to have some fun. Jeffrey Lin from Riot Games imagines such situation: We got a player, who knows perfectly (and the rest of his team), that it is his fault that they lost the battle. He feels bad and is about to resign, when he founds on his monitor that two of his companions think that he is helpful and a good ally. This moment changes everything. She believes that this system helps to replace negative emotion with good ones.

We all know that internet is full of crudeness and arrogance. Sitting behind the screen of monitor does not excuse lack of culture in multiplayer games. Off course sometimes, when a word fight stays on the battlefield and it affects only gameplay matters, we can always turn a blind eye on something or simply use /ignore function. Everyone should back Riot Games in their efforts of finding reasonable solution to trolling problem in MOBA games. Old-school ban can be efficient too, when someone permanently behaves like an idiot. Two pro players were banned this year – Alfonso mithy Aguire Rodriguez and Erlend Nukeduck Vatevik Holm. They already promised to be good and announced that for now they will train other teams.

Richard Chausse – video games lover and manager at game keys distributor –
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