The Daily Grind: Does teaching toxic MMO gamers what they did wrong actually help?

    
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As RPS reported this week, Valve has taken the relatively unusual step of making your Dota 2 and CSGO report cards semi-public – that is, players can see reports made against their accounts, and the rationales given, even if Valve took no action on them. The author was bemused to find that he’d been reported for “intentional feeding” when in fact, he just sucked that match. Hey, it happens.

But I wonder whether the reports are useful to actual toxic players who’ve been actioned to teach them where they went wrong; it’s certainly an idea League of Legends clung to for years. MOP reader TomTurtle recently suggested something similar in terms of forum moderation too. “I’d like to see how viable it’d be to have moderators give an infractor a chance to edit their post to be constructive in an attempt to have them learn why their initial language was against the rules” in the service of “informing players why they were infracted in the first place,” he wrote to us.

Even if we agree that moderators’ and gamemasters’ jobs should include not just protecting the community from toxicity but actually attempting to – as Raph Koster puts it in his new book – “reform bad apples,” I wonder whether it’s even worth the trouble, never mind the expense. Does knowing what they did wrong actually help toxic players become less toxic? Or does it just cause them to double down to save face? Is the industry just wasting time and money trying to reform players who aren’t just poorly socialized or clueless but willfully destructive?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Tom Radcliff

Yes, it will help. I applaud the effort. How much will it help? I have no idea. If 1 in a hundred get pulled out of their anonymity and think twice about what they said or will say next time, it’s a good thing.

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Make an “Escape from New York” map. Throw all the toxics into maps together where they have to deal with each others BS. See if some of them attempt real teamwork to get off the map and give them a probational pass for learning how to not be dickholes long enough to get something done ?
Or has it been done before?

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Sally Bowls
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rafael12104

Hmm. Yes, it can help because not all “toxic” players are toxic by nature. Sure there are trolls, and worse that do it for laughs. But there are occasions when situations make players react in horrible ways. And yes, this is something they can learn from. But more importantly, it is also an opportunity for devs to examine if there is something inherent to the game that creates toxicity.

So, sure it can be a teaching moment. But not just for the players.

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Bryan Turner

I’ve read many comments which basically imply sometimes all it takes to be toxic is to have unpopular opinions, being passionate enough about said opinions to defend them at length point by point, and being non repentant.

What is this the Dark Ages? I imagine any one that pointed out that the Earth wasn’t flat and wasn’t the center of the universe were toxic enough to be burned alive at some points.

In all seriousness it’s always both angered me and emboldened me when I’ve been callously been lumped together with completely chaotic people that actually are trolls while I will literally spend hours arguing my points in detail yet still be called a toxic troll because I have an unpopular opinion (it’s called being smart enough to see not out side the box but there is no box at all, it’s like being punished by people living in Plato’s cave).

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Sally Bowls

What is this the Dark Ages?

What it is are for-profit businesses. Who should be the President of the US and what, if anything, should be your personal Lord and Saviour are both extremely important questions. Bree does not allow them to be discussed here, not because they are unimportant but because it is more profitable for her (and more pleasant for everyone!) to not allow discussion of those topics here.

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Bryan Turner

Evidently I’m not allowed to defend my self here, it’s funny since I flagged your comment for essentially making a baseless accusation that I’m a Trump supporter. I guess apparently being upset some one looked at my white male profile picture and made a racist/sexist judgement claiming essentially I’m an White Power person (since in my eyes that’s how I see Trump supporters ) and defending my self is against the commenting rules here.

I’m beginning to think Melissa McDonald was right (I think that’s what her name was) once the staff has a problem with you they’ll let any slander slide as long as it’s against some one they dislike (classy).

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Bryan Turner

I need to not read comments on my phone in bed with out glasses on because in front of my Rig on a big screen I clearly see a different comment. The first few sentences are worded a little awkwardly how ever it’s clear now that I can read it in bigger print you’re just listing two different examples of things that are off topic and should be moderated. On my phone with out my glasses on it looked like you were implying that Trump was my lord and savior; I literally thought you were accusing me of being a Trump supporter because I mentioned that I have unpopular opinions. This was a gross misunderstanding on my part. I’m actually a hardcore liberal and I have had people that don’t know me accuse me of being one because I’m white and male.

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Sally Bowls

I see the issue differently (surprise!).

I don’t see it as:
“bad” (racist, homophobic, ad hominem attacks) comments are toxic and that drives customers away.

I see it as:
behavior that drives customers away is toxic by definition. So it is driven by the community norms, not societal norms. For the companies, it is not directly about making them better people; it is about making them more profitable people and hopefully, there is an invisible hand that guides the community towards being “better.”

E.g., I would say “what endangered species taste the best?” (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099615/) would not be toxic on SafariHunterOnline forums/games and would be toxic on VeryVegan.

A more extreme example, would IMO-vile homophobic comments be toxic in a game/forum in a country where homosexuality is illegal? I would argue they are bad/wrong/immoral but I am not sure they would be “toxic.”

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Roger Melly

Banning them does . A friend of mines son recently got a weeks ban from a game and hes been fuming about it on his naughty step . If that happens a few more times then perhaps he will learn there are consequences for his actions in a virtual environment .

Spare the rod spoil the gamer ;)

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Sally Bowls

http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1017940/The-Science-Behind-Shaping-Player

We are in the era of Big Data. We don’t just have to conjecture around the agora; we can go out and test things.
Yes, misbehaving players cost companies money.
Yes, while far from perfect, both moderation and education work.

P.S.: as an aside, note that bans were less effective than warnings.

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Sally Bowls

“reform bad apples,” I wonder whether it’s even worth the trouble, never mind the expense. Does knowing what they did wrong actually help toxic players become less toxic? Or does it just cause them to double down to save face? Is the industry just wasting time and money trying to reform players who aren’t just poorly socialized or clueless but willfully destructive?

There are certainly some people who will never change, so 100% is never the goal. And any effort of a company has a cost-benefit analysis so there is a level of expenditures that is not justified.

Re “just wasting time and money”: IMO, spending effort to improve things is clearly better than not. However, it is not clear that either is better than not having the forum/game. I.e., if you truly think people are unreformable (a reasonable attitude, alas), then why bother with the forum/game?

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Arktouros

I’m 100% with TomTurtle on this one.

If you realistically want to see any kind of change, the only way that starts is with dialogue. That’s not going to be comfortable dialogue nor will that dialogue always have an immediate positive impact. However what 100% won’t have a positive impact is just outright banning/moderating someone without explaining your decision. In an environment of words removing someone’s voice is kinda one of the most hateful things you can do to another person regardless of what they’re saying.

Now you can claim that’s not your problem to deal with and you don’t think it’s your responsibility to reform anyone. That’s a 100% perfectly valid stance to take, however equally how much ground do you really have to complain about the issue when you equally refuse to do anything about it? If all you’re doing is banning/moderating without saying anything that’s the virtual equivalent of trying to cover up what you see is a problem and just make it go away. It didn’t solve anything. It didn’t change anything. The next time you find yourself in that situation, why would you expect anything to unfold differently when you refuse any stake in changing it?

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Fervor Bliss

” In an environment of words removing someone’s voice is kinda one of the most hateful things you can do to another person regardless of what they’re saying. ”

How long should the many suffer for the good of the few?

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Arktouros

How long should the many suffer for the good of the few?

For as little or as much time as you prefer. It’s neither your responsibility nor your burden to suffer. However, at the same time, it’s unreasonable to expect anyone or anything to change without a dialogue and going further silencing a person is more likely to exacerbate the situation.

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Utakata

“I’m 100% with TomTurtle on this one.”

To a degree, Ms. Bree does this here actually. :)

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Arktouros

That has not been my experience.

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Utakata

Well…sorry to hear that? o.O