Research:Online Community Conduct Policies/Riot Games (League of Legends)
Riot Games provides the software and community management for the PC-based game League of Legends (LoL). LoL is a online multiplayer “arena”-based game, and was, in 2012, the most played PC game in North America and Europe. It can have up to 7.5 million players online playing concurrently. Riot Games has been named by Danielle Citron, a noted online harassment expert, as having “much success” in curbing abuse on its platform.
Riot Games’ behavioural policy is called the Summoner’s Code, and is enforced through the Tribunal System. The Code emphasizes the importance of teamwork; LoL is a team-based game. Other emphases include the value of constructive feedback, civil discourse, building relationships, leading by example, and treating new users with patience and compassion.
History of the policy
After struggling with episodes of violent, racist and misogynist speech between its users, Riot Games engaged in heavy academic study of the game's players; psychologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists engaged with LoL's databases of user interactions. The company implemented a "player behaviour team" which took the findings and applied them to new approaches in policy and enforcement. This included more informative messaging when a user has their playing rights suspended for infractions, limiting the "chat" feature to teammates, and instituting a new user review process.
Riot Games Head of Social Systems Jeffrey Lin rolled out a user review process called the Tribunal System. The effects of the system on user behaviour was studied by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, who observed:
“During the first year of the Tribunal System Riot Games reported: "More than 47 million votes have been cast in the Tribunal; 51% of Tribunal cases resulted in a guilty verdict, with only 5.7% earning a permanent ban; 50% of players warned by the Tribunal just once never end up there again." Thus the system was active and seems a serious and at least partially successful effort to control anti-social behavior in an online space.”
Lin reported the following results after two years of running the Tribunal System, "Verbal abuse has dropped by more than 40 percent, and 91.6 percent of negative players change their act and never commit another offense after just one reported penalty."
How it is enforced
After each gaming session, players have the ability to report a user for violations of the “Summoner’s Code”. Players then see a list of ten pre-selected categories of problem user behaviour, and a free-text field to summarize the issue. This then creates a report. If a user is the subject of multiple reports, or egregious conduct is reported, a Tribunal case is opened against the user. This case automatically includes previous reports, logs and statistics from the games in question, and the free-text summaries submitted by reporters.
Tribunal members then “vote” on the case, choosing either one of three outcomes: “punish”, “pardon” or “skip”. Each case must receive twenty Tribunal votes to be closed. The voting members of the Tribunal are selected from community members with a certain experience threshold, and a history of abiding by the Summoner’s Code. Riot Games reserves the right to decline Tribunal member applications.
“Punishment” is based on previous history, and takes the form of escalating blocks from using the platform. Riot Games employees audit the punishment cases, and can alter the outcome if they feel it necessary.
Analysis of policy: strengths and weaknesses
- Gaudiosi, John. "Riot Games' League Of Legends Officially Becomes Most Played PC Game In The World". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- Sherr, Ian. "Player Tally for ‘League of Legends’ Surges". WSJ. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- Citron, Danielle (2016-04-15). "We will look back at cyber-harassment as a disgrace – if we act now | Danielle Citron". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- "Curbing Online Abuse Isn’t Impossible. Here’s Where We Start". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- Kou, Yubo; Nardi, Bonnie (2013). "Regulating Anti-Social Behavior on the Internet:The Example of League of Legends" (PDF). iConference 2013 proceedings. doi:10.9776/13289.
- Lin, Jeffrey (2015-07-07). "Doing Something About the 'Impossible Problem' of Abuse in Online Games". Recode. Retrieved 2016-05-23.