Reality of the Tribunal and Refocusing on Positive Player Behavior

Posted on at 12:21 AM by Moobeat
Player behavior is a hot topic these days. If you browse the forums or sites like reddit, you've undoubtedly noticed the trend of summoners talking about how toxic or taxing this game is, rather than the traditional "nerf champ x plz" type of banter. Furthermore  there have also been a slew of recent complaints about players being unjustly punished by the Tribunal and claiming that it is a broken system. In response, Lyte, Riot's Lead Designer of Social systems, has stepped in with some encouraging words for the community.

Continue reading to hear  Lyte share his thoughts on the reality of the Tribunal and what Riot is doing to shift their focus from punishing bad players to rewarding good players.

Here is his post, first describing the reality of the Tribunal and then talking about player behavior in general, what Riot plans to do, and how we, as gamers, can help combat toxicity.
"The average player never has to worry about the Tribunal. Last I checked, only about 0.7% of accounts in North America were eligible for a Tribunal case--you need to receive a serious number of legitimate reports to even receive a Tribunal case. This is also why a high punish rate from the Tribunal does not mean the system is broken--it just means that the criteria to get into the Tribunal are pretty strict.

But, the Tribunal isn't perfect. No system is. A lot of players might argue that if even 1 positive player is banned that the system is broken. This is unreasonable. The reality of the situation is, errors are going to happen--the question we should be asking is, "What is the acceptable error rate?" In the medical fields, a new medicine does not have to be perfect to be a viable treatment for an illness; in fact, 60% success rates are pretty good in medicine. Everyday, many people undergo surgeries that have a 95% success rate, but a 5% chance for a serious side-effect, injury or death--this is considered acceptable and pretty good. Even many birth control methods are 95-99 
% effective and that's considered acceptable even though the errors there are life-changing.
Because many members of the player behavior team come from these backgrounds, we have forced ourselves to have an even higher standard with the Tribunal. One of the first things we did with the system was optimize it to minimize false punishes. Since the player behavior team formed, we have not seen a positive player that was punished enough times by the Tribunal that they were permabanned. Some neutral or positive players receive undeserved warnings or timebans, but no one has been so absurdly unlucky as to end up in the Tribunal 5 times and ended with a permanent ban. 
In saying this, we see a lot of complaints that the Tribunal is broken; if we were really punishing that many positive players, I'd shut the Tribunal down today. I don't need to blindly trust the system, nor does my job depend on the system being used--the player behavior team can implement whatever system we feel has the biggest impact on player behavior. When a banned player goes to the forums and complains about the system being broken, we're missing the counterbalance of that--how many players got a ban that was deserved, but don't go on the forums to post about it? How many of the 99% of players that are never going to see a Tribunal case are posting on the forums with titles like, "Yay, I will never be banned because I'm not a jerk!" Most players here might not know this, but we used to review 100% of cases in the Tribunal. In fact, for many cases we'd assign up to 6 Player Support staff to review them--this was to assess the reliability of Rioter reviews against the reliability of Tribunal judges. We ultimately discovered that Rioters tended to be much, much stricter than the Tribunal. In many countries, we still review 100% of cases. I checked 4 weeks of an International Tribunal where a PS Team reviewed 100% of cases, and do you know how many decisions they overturned? 2
The Tribunal does a good job reforming or removing the worst players in the game--the bottom 0.7% right now on NA. It's never going to be a perfect system, and development costs are hitting diminishing returns on the system. This is why we're shifting gears on the player behavior team. 
On the player behavior team, we know that bans are not the complete solution. Some toxic players are deterred by bans, and others simply make new accounts and shift their toxicity. Some of you may have heard of the Account Restriction experiments on PBE, and we're currently testing the first account restriction which is a Restricted Chat Mode. In the future, we'd prefer to avoid as many bans as possible and instead opt for players to remain on their mains but with multiple restrictions on the account. We've decided this effort is a higher priority and more valuable than adding more and more information (like pre- and post-game chat) to the Tribunal. Because account restrictions are less jarring than bans, we can directly impact a lot more players and cast much larger nets than a system that hands out bans. 
Secondly, our data shows time and time again that the majority of players are not innately toxic. Due to context (in real life or otherwise), players tend to have bad days and their behavior goes toxic for short bursts. The vast majority of players are pretty positive people--if you think about it, most players say they experience toxicity in a high number of games... but it's usually 1 or 2 people in the game and not everyone in the game. In fact, the majority of our players are neutral or positive and don't say much in the game other than "gg."

Statuskwoh and others have mentioned this already, but the player behavior team has been in the middle of a serious shift. We're going to stop focusing on punishment, and instead focus on features that encourage sportsmanlike behavior in the game. Part of the initial explorations include research on the current problems with Champ Select. We are considering every possibility, and can even completely change how Champ Select works if we believe it's the best thing to do for League of Legends. You can read some of our initial thoughts here: 
I've played over 2500 games of League of Legends--90% of those games in Ranked Solo/Duo queue. If you consider the entire Player Behavior team, we've put in some serious time into the game. We're gamers, just like you. If the community wasn't pretty awesome, systems like the Tribunal just wouldn't work. But, the average member of the community is positive. When I first joined Riot, other devs and academics told me that online games and toxic behavior simply go hand-in-hand; they said this was an impossible problem. 
I disagree. 
When I look at Tribunal data and see that words like c*nt and f*ggot are among the most highly punished words in the Tribunal, I am inspired by the gamers in League and how awesome they are--we just have to figure out how to break the negative perception that weighs us down. To do that, we need to make it easier to focus on positive behavior in our community. We need to make it easier to setup teams for success.

Being a gamer is a culture. Let's not focus on the toxic players that try to ruin our experiences--they aren't a part of our gaming culture. Being a gamer is one of the most amazing and positive cultures out there. Let's work together to showcase that."

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