One of the main problems in keeping people using online games is keeping them happy and not be bullied by any comments sent to them in thechats option. So one online game has done a fair amount of research into this problem and is now changing several of its features to improve game quality for its users.
Over the past several years, video game enthusiasts have gained a reputation for cultivating a culture of casual nastiness, lodging virtual rape threats at one another and lobbing lewd comments into the void—a norm that disproportionately affects the outnumbered women in that world. But as Laura Hudson describes in an excellent piece in Wired this month, that dubious achievement has actually inspired many gaming communities to take a harder look at their harassment problem than other online spaces have. Now, while massive Internet communities like Twitter lean back with a laissez-faire approach, these gaming companies are leading the field in addressing online harassment by lending resources to research the problem, innovating new techniques to solve it, and testing them out in the crowd.
Hudson focuses largely on the work of Riot Games, the publisher of League of Legends (a game whose players were, as of 2012, more than 90 percent male). Riot realized two years ago that “a significant number of players had quit the game and cited noxious behavior as the reason.” So it launched a “player behavior team,” employing “staff members with PhDs in psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience to study the issue of harassment by building and analyzing behavioral profiles for tens of millions of users.” Riot found that nastiness was a communitywide problem: “If we remove all toxic players from the game, do we solve the player behavior problem? We don’t,” said Jeffrey Lin, Riot’s lead designer of social systems. Persistently bad-behaving players only produced 13 percent of the harassment on the site; the remainder of harassment was lodged by “players whose presence, most of the time, seemed to be generally inoffensive or even positive.” The takeaway: “Banning the worst trolls wouldn’t be enough to clean up League of Legends. …
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