Are You Having a Bad Day?

While I am always trying to figure out ideas for new posts, I can never resist writing about new developments in my favorite League of Legends topic – player behavior. LoL can be a nasty, brutish affair. So I hope you understand why I like to keep up to date on what Riot is doing to try and make us act better.

Riot’s latest effort at improving player behavior just hit the beta environment. If you want to read the post from Riot Lyte, and you should because the man writes a nice post, you can do so here. The basic gist of the change is that Riot is working on developing an automated system of “Behavioral Alerts” that will notify you when you are misbehaving. The logic behind this feature is that letting players know they are being bad apparently increases the chances of them changing their ways by about 7.8%. Riot figures that if they provide feedback faster, in the form of automated notifications, that rate will hopefully increase.

I do not believe this is the worst idea. My general expectation of people has always been that they know what it means to behave badly, and so if they continue to do wrong, they must be doing it intentionally. LoL has taught me that this view is only somewhat correct. There are certainly people who misbehave for the fun of it, but there are also a lot of people (young and old alike) who actually have no idea that their behavior is less than acceptable. Viewed in this light, I think being quicker to let people know that they are being bad will probably make a difference, to the tune of similar numbers to what Riot has been seeing from the Report Cards.

My problem with the report cards has always been that some people, despite seeing a report card full of evidence, still do not appreciate why they were reported and punished. The brief notification that you can see above provides even less supporting evidence to convince a player that they were actually in the wrong. If a report card can’t convince them to behave, a message that is roughly the size of two tweets probably won’t encourage them to change their ways either.

The cynic in me is also convinced that this message will be used by those who are negative just for the sake of being negative to help avoid punishment. If, after a delightful game of verbally abusing my teammates, I received a notification telling me that I am being bad and might be close to getting in trouble I would probably tone it down for a game or two. Then, I would be right back to my old ways or, perhaps, I would even return with an added vengeance to make up for the previous games where I actually had to pretend to be a decent human being.

This system will never actually change the behavior of the truly negative or toxic players. Instead, it is a band aid designed to help turn a few players, who truly do not understand common decency, away from the dark side. Honestly, if Riot wants to focus on those players who don’t know that being negative is bad, I would rather that they try and tackle this problem preemptively and not wait for the player to rack up reports first.

If the LCS (professional League of Legends) has taught us anything it’s that Riot can put together some pretty awesome videos and written materials when they want to. Could you imagine if they invested that same effort into creating a campaign to encourage players to be nicer gamers?  There are so many cool things they could do to encourage people to be good, and I bet the returns would be at least equal to what they’re getting from the Report Cards and Behavioral Alerts – with the added bonus that the player wouldn’t need to be reported a bunch first. Think of it as kind of being like Yoda and Obi Wan teaching Luke why the Light Side of the Force was the way to go long before Luke even thought about heading to the Dark Side. Awkward Star Wars analogy: Check.

It does kind of make you wonder if pro players would agree to take part in such a campaign or if a lot of them are actually textbook offenders who can’t be bothered to promote anything other than winning and pwning noobs. Maybe the problem is that no one ever told them they could be like Yoda or Obi Wan.

I do love that Riot is willing to try new things to make this game better, and I do believe that Behavioral Alerts will have some positive impact. What I am tired of is Riot giving us the standard line that most players are good and neutral and a lot of the negativity we get is from people who are just having a bad day. I understand that in a game with millions of players you are much more likely to run into someone who is having a bad day, but I am not entirely convinced that is the only reason why I feel like I am constantly being exposed to negativity.

So what I want to do is run my own little social experiment, and I would appreciate it if all of you would help me. The next time someone rages at you in game, I want you to ask them if they are having a bad day. Here, let me even provide you with a line you can use:

“Hey, Riot says that most negativity in LoL comes from people who are having a bad day. (Insert player name), are you having a bad day?”

Optional additional question only to be used if you want to add troll value and ruin the validity of the whole experiment:

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I am not entirely sure what to expect from actually asking ragers if they are having a bad day. My guess is that most people will say something along the lines of “I was having a good day until I had to play with you, you ####,” but maybe that’s just me. My plan is to actually keep track of the number and composition of responses. I doubt that either Riot or myself will be able to use the results to prove, conclusively, that we are right, but at the very least, I expect to get a few hilarious responses that will be worth sharing.

It is  reassuring that Riot is continuing to work on developing better player behavior in League of Legends. While I do believe that the new Behavioral Alerts system will have some impact, I would really like to see Riot do more than simply find another way of letting negative players know they are negative. Whether they know they are negative or not, we are still the ones that have to play this game with them. Until Riot comes up with a way to get negative players out of OUR games, or reward us for being in THEIR games, nothing Riot puts out to deal with negative players will truly satisfy me. At least now I have a question to ask my fellow LoL’ers while I wait for change to come.


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