In an effort to combat the abundance of malefic and inappropriate behavior in their popular online multiplayer game League of Legends, Riot Games Inc. introduced a disciplinary system known as the Tribunal on May 24. This system allows players the ability to judge their peers who have been reported for violating the Summoners’ Code – a set of rules published by Riot to ensure courteous play and a friendly community. The installment of this program into an online multiplayer game’s community is a unique approach in stopping unwanted behavior.
The system has a few limitations set in place so only certain players may access it. First, in order to take part in the Tribunal, the player must have achieved the max “Summoner Level” in League of Legends (which is currently 30). Second, players seeking to use the Tribunal must not have any bans on their account, so as to assure players participating in the Tribunal are of a better character.
Participants are provided with cases. Only players who have been reported in multiple games are listed in the case log after Riot reviews them to help avoid someone having a bad game from getting placed in the Tribunal. Players are provided a list of the reported offenses, a chat log of the game and the various stats of the reported for the game as evidence for judgment. Voting cannot happen right away, however. Participants must wait a minimum of one minute to vote and are encouraged to read through each chat log to make an appropriate decision.
Players are given three options on each case: Punish, Pardon, or Skip. Players who consistently vote in the majority are awarded Influence Points (the in-game currency for LoL) and are allowed to review more cases each day. Those who do not vote in the majority are allowed less and less cases a day until they vote in the majority again; this was established to prevent people from voting willy-nilly on cases without reading through the logs first. Afterward, depending on the majority rule, a player is either provided with a warning/suspension/ban (depending on prior offenses) if punished or absolved if pardoned
After ruling on a few cases in the Tribunal, it is scary to see the extent some players will go to prove points or simply troll others if they don’t play the game as well as they expect them to. I mean, I have met some abhorrent people in my days in WoW and The Lord of the Rings Online, but some of these people took the cake on flagrantly awful behavior; some of the language that flew around in the chat logs (most of it racist or profane over a game) made me wince.
After dealing my judgment on the accused, I began to think of how this kind of disciplinary system could help other games, and how effective it could potentially be. For one thing, a Tribunal-esque system takes out the support tickets and other lengthy processes, putting the disciplinary action in the hands of the players who suffer from it. After all, trial by jury is a concept that the American court system is based on for most cases; why shouldn’t video game discipline be any different?
Of course, as with any system in existence today, there are flaws. For one thing, it’s possible for the wrong judgment to come down on a player for whatever reason. It’s also possible for a well-known player to get pardoned or punished solely because of who they are rather than the violations they did or did not commit.
Extending this system to other games shows other flaws in the system. For example, if other hypothetical Tribunal systems drew jurors from a pool of the well-behaved players, there is a good chance that they may not have a tolerance for any kind of violation, even minor things that may not even be mean-spirited. At the same time, opening the juror pool to all players may open up the system to players who will pardon blatantly bad behavior because they engage in the same stuff and don’t want to get banned for doing it themselves.
While it’s too early to tell how effective the Tribunal system will be in League of Legends, it’s still an interesting concept to apply to different online multiplayer games to see if it could work. After all, for better or for worse, the community of an online multiplayer game makes up just as much of the experience as the gameplay does. Not only that, but the gaming community should be concerned about the bad apples, because as the cliché goes: “It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.” Hopefully this Tribunal system can start picking those bad apples away from the good ones and help give the gaming community a better name among outsiders and even newcomers to the fold.