Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Judged by a jury of your peers

Riot Games sent out a press release to me and many game sites (and then curiously failed to post it on their own press release site) about launching their tribunal system for League of Legends. The tribunal is a system where reported cases of bad player behavior are being judged by a jury of other players, who take on the job of GMs to decide whether another player should receive a temporary ban as punishment. Jurors who vote with the majority (and thus are considered "reasonable") are even paid in influence points, the virtual currency of the game.

Player-controlled systems to weed out bad behavior is something that many people have been asking for. The reason why not more games have it is that previous implementations failed spectacularly, giving us for example The Sims Online mafia which extorted other players for money by threatening to blackball them. It is easy to see why a reputation point system would never work for example for solving the conflicts between tanks, healer, and dps in a World of Warcraft group: The dps would never admit that them pulling aggro or standing in the fire is not the tank's or healer's fault, and would just outvote them unless you gave the tank and healer 3 votes each.

Riot Games realized that the problem of most reputation systems is that the judgement is done by the people present at the scene, who are rarely impartial. Thus in the tribunal system the judgement is done by random strangers, who are provided complete chat logs and other relevant information to base their decision on. This much diminishes the chance of the jurors acting out of spite, or blackmailing the defendant.

I believe that their system has a chance to work much better than previous ideas because of the jurors not being the witnesses at the same time. The only flaw I can find in the system is that it is effectively asking players to perform a job for free which the company would otherwise have to pay GMs for. But as long as the players are more than willing to do so, and the response time for reporting bad behavior improves a lot due to that, the overall effect is probably positive. What do you think?

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