Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on how needing to babysit toxic turds slows down game dev for everyone

“I’m Jeff from the Overwatch team,” the outrageously famous Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan says in this week’s Overwatch developer video. I get a kick out of it when he does that. In fact, he’s back again to talk about “the rising tide of toxicity” in the game. Because it’s a day that ends in Y, and that’s what Blizzard does on days that ends in Y: talk about toxicity.

Kaplan says the PC reporting feature is now on console, in spite of its imperfections, but he says more is coming, including a pilot program for providing feedback on resolved reports that actually result in disciplinary action. He promises your reports actually matter: Almost half a million accounts have been disciplined, a third of a million “a direct result of players’ using the reporting system.”

Behind the scenes, he says, Blizzard is working on what it does to miscreants based on different types of behavior. The philosophy, he says, is that toxic players – whom he suggests are propelled by their anonymity – simply aren’t welcome. Indeed, he says that Blizzard can do only so much: “The community needs to take a deep look inward at each of us and really consider” how to “spread positivity” and “own up” to the players’ own responsibility. Otherwise, Blizzard is spending tremendous piles of resources chasing after and punishing toxic players instead of developing the game, literally slowly down content.

“There’s not going to be a moment when we have a magic patch in Overwatch that makes bad behavior go away, but it is a continual process that we are very dedicated to fixing and improving,” he says. “The Overwatch team accepts the responsibility that we have that we can do far better and add a lot more great systems to the game to improve everybody’s behavior and everybody’s overall positive experience, and I hope that all of us as the player community decide that we’re doing to do our parts to really make a difference as well.”

Source: YouTube

More on toxicity in the MMO community and especially Blizzard’s progress in combating it:

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56 Comments on "Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on how needing to babysit toxic turds slows down game dev for everyone"

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Slaasher

While I agree that the toxicity level in all games is on the rise I have also noticed that those who are quick to claim that they are reporting someone quite often show the complete lack of ability to understands what “real” reasons for reporting people are.
So often I see people claiming they are going to report someone just because they made a bad decision in playing the game. They quite bluntly state it in chat, the person responds, possibly defends their choices and BOOM…….. “reported!!!!
For what? Not knowing how to play the game? Or maybe your class? Game devs need to be careful how much weight they put on community policing. The whole process is rife with unfairness and could potentially get much worse.
I applaud any efforts to dampen the amount of as#hol#ery out there but I do hope they also understand that some people are sensitive to the point of ridiculous and often don’t know what are good reasons to report someone and what are bad reasons.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Imagine that toxic behavior in game design that allows it.

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steve

Jeff knows all about being a toxic turd, having been one of the greatest toxic turds in EQ history, and his behavior had a huge impact on the development not just of EQ, but of MMOs as an industry.

“Oh, he grew up.” So will most of the little shitlords in Overwatch today, only to be replaced by the next generation of competitive kids with underdeveloped social awareness.

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Melissa McDonald

If I was a college kid I’d be seriously tempted to do a dissertation on ban/discipline stats and the percentages in games that are PvP versus PvE or those without non-consensual PvP.

Like, proving on paper that PvP environments are more acrimonious and hostile and trollish, which I believe (in my hypothesis) is true.

Wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans, but could end up with a degree in today’s cotton-candy universities.

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Kenny

I’ve adopted Zen’s mentality about games and try and put a positive spin on everything. Even simmering some feuds down, but the idea that people will just do it consistently is incredibly naive.

My thoughts have, and always will be: Give incentives to being a good player, rather than ONLY punishing toxic ones. It only takes one game for someone who was a good player to become a troll/toxic. The bribe of just giving up, or giving in is strong when you have to rely on 5 other people in your team (and unfortunately, we can’t all be 6-stacks).

People that get punished don’t care if they get punished. In fact, they’re more likely to just comeback and do it all over again with a new account.

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RandomSadGamer

You would think that actually winning games would be a good incentive enough but… nope.

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Castagere Shaikura

Its to late to do anything about this crap. PewDiePie and all the rest of these fools have had free rain to do and say whatever they feel like. And most of them get paid by corporations to do it. When you have the highest paid utuber and twitchtv gamer channels doing it nothing is going to change.

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Joshua Dickerson

It is a reflection of where our society is going. No amount of moderation is going to cure it.

We honestly as people have to change it. But as things are going, “trolling” is becoming a lot more common and even seen as entertainment now.

I have been playing online games since 2001 and even some of the older people I used to play with, I have seen how they have changed over the years. When they used to be more diplomatic and focused on having a good time. I can see how they sort of jump in on the trolling in a moments notice now. Sometimes I make a side-joke to make them aware of it. But most times I am too tired to keep debating with them on how trolling is “just clean fun”. Sure the two people going back and forth are having fun, but the rest of us have to sit there and try and enjoy a game while others are seeing who can cut the deepest into the other person’s Ego.

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Melissa McDonald

20 years ago people worried that they could get “banned from the internet”. But everybody realizes now it’s the Wild Wild Web, and stuff like that almost never happens. “do as thou wilt” has become the creed of the High Church of Intarwebz.

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Armsbend

An astute observation on the human condition really.

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camelotcrusade

I’ve never played this type of game so I am wondering how much meaningful communication actually takes place. Could it be turned off altogether and replaced with signaling mechanisms, so as go here, target x, and things like that? I mean, you could still troll with those, but it’s not the same as telling people go kill themselves. Anyway just wondering whether it’s possible to fix toxicity the same way some some websites have handled it: by turning off the comments.

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mysecretid

I haven’t played Overwatch, but I have never used a headset when playing the Destiny games (or any games) on my PS4.

The Destiny games have emote choices, which are all I’ve needed to communicate thus far.

I know as sure as I’m typing this that I enjoy the games much more because I don’t have to listen to people’s toxic bullshit behavior while I play.

For whtever it’s worth,

Cheers,

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

I’ve never turned on voice chat in Overwatch, and many times I turn off text chat. Most of the time what I’ve noticed in Quick Play is that the people who spend the most time bitching about the team are also the worst players, whereas if everyone is just playing and having a good time we do great.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

1). Communication is KEY.

2). No, because there’s things like communicating team comp, enemy position and character, abilities, etc.

3). Socialization is a good thing and there are some very fantastic people to meet in the community online. It’s unfortunate that the horribles drift in the mass with them but that is the same with society right now, unfortunately (Ever had that ONE rude, loudmouth person nearby at checkout at a store while everyone else is nice, chatting with cashiers, and even allowing the person with 1 item to go ahead of them? Ya, that one former person is the real life toxic.)

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

You can go watch vids about toxic Overwatch players on youtube.

People get whiny and nasty because you pick someone they dont think you can play, they get nasty because you are a specific gender, i.e. female, they get nasty because you are female and not playing Mercy.

It really is sad to listen to.

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Melissa McDonald

As much as I would like to believe I am too mentally strong to be a so-called “feminist” that complains about inequities, I have to admit that I have been picked on in video games, I’m almost certain, for being a girl. I’m doubly sure I’ve been targeted in PvP for that. And never by a female character. What you’re saying doesn’t surprise me at all.

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mysecretid

An anecdote which might amuse?

Years ago, in City Of Heroes, my guild-of-real-life friends were working on one of the PvE missions set inside one of the game’s PvP zones.

We were meeting up. Our friend Rae was the first to arrive, and she was playing a stylized superheroic version of herself (it was a “conceit” of the guild — we all did this with our mains).

I arrived second, but I was high up in the sky, on lookout.

I saw these three little shites vectoring in on “the chick” to gank her — surreptitiously stealthing their way to her position.

I tipped Rae, and the rest of the guild on the incoming gankers, and we co-ordinated something …

Just as these guys were about to strike, the guild en masse dropped out of the sky into a circle around Rae. Basically, the entire guild appeared in force.

One of us said something in chat like, “Did you guys want something?”

They ran like the punks they were … :-D

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

So if you can’t fight toxic behavior, what other option there is? let it happen without a fight? defeatist attitude is not the solution, as Kaplan said, it is a continual process, and we have to admit, it is a cultural and social problem, different societies have different ways to deal with technology, tech is not the only way to solve these problems.

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Bhima Jenkins

I sympathize with devs and those in gaming communities that constantly butt up against these people. I also sympathize now with Blizzard on their Real ID program. True, it is overall a bad idea, but it would reduce the amount of toxicity by removing some of the anonymity.

Part of the problem is that PvP based games sort of attract this type of attitude. Not just bringing in the worst people, but also bringing out the worst in normal people. Of course, that isn’t to say we should not have PvP-based games, its just that some of the toxicity will have to just be accepted as par for the course in these types of games.