Skip to content

A Finer Line

October 28, 2013

Dear Reader,

I had a unique experience in League of Legends this weekend.  That’s right, the game I swore off months ago has again come into my play cycle, and while I’d like to say I’ve found a good balance for it (only one game a day, which helps me prevent getting too frustrated), history has shown that often my perception of “a good balance” and the reality of it are not the same.

My wife and I virtually always play a cooperative game vs. intermediate AI, and we virtually always win.  I’m not sure whether the int. AI bots have been made easier or whether my wife and I have simply become better players (or both), but I used to only have a 50/50 or so win rate against int. AI bots, but now have won every game we’ve played – except one.

It’s this one loss that prompted this correspondence, that generated a truly unique situation for me.  For it was this one that I was notified, after the fact, that I had been behaved “negatively.”  It seems these “Behavior Alerts” were added in a recent patch and are prompted by “uncharacteristic spikes in negative behavior.”

Now, I’ve praised LoL for its community management ideas in the past, and I think this idea has some merit, but from what reading I’ve done on it, it seems to target good players who are having an “off day.”  The fact that LoL itself identifies this program as targeting “uncharacteristic” bad behavior seems to support what I’ve read.

The game I was playing was making me irritated.  During this game, it occurred to me that the only difference in my being a “good leader” (for which I have the banner) and having a “negative attitude” was whether or not the other players listened to me.  In this game, we had some very bad players.  Let me again point out that this is the only intermediate AI game I’ve lost in months.  I knew there was going to be a problem when one of the players at the start of a game ran into a turret and committed suicide, then lol’d about it.

It was a bot game, so I didn’t really care, and they didn’t repeat the behavior, but it set a precedent for childishness and immaturity.  I was jungling, so I wasn’t even having to deal with a lane partner, but the repeated incompetence of all the laners (my wife was supporting as best she could) was pretty staggering.

I suspect these were just people who needed to be in beginner Ai games, not “bad people” or even really “bad players,” but just inexperienced doofuses.  We were all there once, so rather than follow the typical LoL behavior and berate them, I did my best to ping and strategize, to warn players when bots were leaving lanes, give them a heads up when I was heading in for a gank, and the like.

But they didn’t follow any of my suggestions or heed any of my warnings.  At first, this meant that we were slowly but consistently losing turrets – an event in and of itself pretty unlikely in my recent bot games.  Eventually the game moved to team fights, and I was in the thick of things, playing Rammus.  With my wife’s support, I had no problem going 2 on 3 and winning, but I couldn’t handle 4 or 5 of them without some dps help, and that’s just it.  They weren’t.  They were never there.  I’d ping for help, or go to their lanes to help them, or swoop out of jungle for a gank, and they’d just leave.

Luckily, with my wife’s support, I usually survived those situations, so I dusted myself off, explained my ping, asked that particular player to hang around when I was coming to help their lane, and moved on.

But after the 10th or 20th time it happened, I admit I started to lose my cool.  The bots were pushing into our base, and I’d just been destroyed in a 5 v 5 teamfight that turned into a 2 v 5 when the 3 dps just ran away after I engaged, having pinged the kill target to let the other players know who to go after when I powerballed in.  I pointed out it’d be a lot more efficient if we’d all stick together, and asked them to defend at base until my wife and I rezzed.

Instead, one at a time, the three of them went to fight the entire enemy team, and were, one at a time, killed.

So I triggered a surrender vote, watching the bots push into our inhibitor turret, and lost the vote 3 to 2.  The idiots wanted to keep playing.  I swear that staying in an obviously lost AI game is a form of harassment; there’s no victory “being robbed” from the other team, it’s just a waste of time.

Well, sorry, but I left.  I had dinner to cook, Card Hunter to play, or any of a thousand better things to do than continue to waste my time with people who completely refuse to work together.  I know based on the Summoner’s Code that it was wrong, and I’m admitting it because I want to be honest and open whether I’m right or wrong, but I was done.  Done.  I wasn’t dealing with those imbeciles any more.

When I came back to the game after dinner, I had the negative behavior alert.  Yes, I’d earned it fair and square, but all it really showed was how I, a person with literally hundreds of helpfuls, friendlies, and teamwork honor points was the same person as the person now receiving a bad behavior warning.  The only difference was whether people worked with me or against me.  I apparently have no tolerance for the latter (though that’s not news by any stretch of the imagination).  There is a fine, fine line between leader and villain, and League of Legends is just the type of environment to bring that out.

So that’s my unique experience.  They want me to maintain my good behavior, but of course there’s no record of how hard I worked during that match to make things work out, just the record of me finally giving up.  LoL has designed a system to chastise their good players when they’re at their most fed up, which I suspect is a stupid idea.  It didn’t make me reflective at all; it made me shrug and say, “If they take away my banner, to hell with them.  I’ll just play something else.”

Why not focus on a new, more aggressive system to deal with bad players instead of kicking your good players when they’re down?  All that seems likely to do is reduce the good player population.

I guess we’ll see when the data comes in, but from my personal point of view, a short message to “be better” isn’t going to change my behavior at all; I’m an intelligent, reflective adult.  I do what I do because I’ve thought about it and it’s what I want.  A trite message won’t change me one bit, and that puts them straddling another fine, fine line between trying to promote good behavior and just being a jerk.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and deservedly named)

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Beshara permalink
    October 28, 2013 10:02 am

    That system sounds like it will cause more problems than it will solve. I haven’t played LoL, but I know if I were in that situation as you described I would be very discouraged to continue to play.

    • October 28, 2013 6:47 pm

      Yeah, I don’t know that I disagree with the premise, but the timing is stupid. This is one of those cases where someone really needed to point out the obvious: is it good to poke a bear when it’s growling? Maybe we should wait and poke it when it’s calmed down.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. October 28, 2013 12:24 pm

    On the other hand, maybe they’re trying for an early intervention, to nip the problem in the bud, so to speak.

    Maybe they’ve found that if they don’t this, the former good player slowly slides towards the dark side, and becomes a full-on negative force. Then you’re actually down 2: you lost one good player, and gained one bad player. Which is worse that simply gaining a bad player.

    • October 28, 2013 6:49 pm

      That’s most likely the idea behind it, but again, I’d ask, is it better to try to save the good jedi from the dark side, or work to put a stop to what’s generating the dark side all together? This seems like a cheap, obvious band-aid for the problem rather than a long-term solution to dealing with jerks. I do agree with your math, and in the long-term, I suppose that could happen, but I suspect, based on my own experience, that jerks will be jerks from day 1 and good players might have a bad day, but remain, in general good players.

      For kids, maybe it’s different, and I wonder the more I’ve thought about it if this is a strategy aimed at kid players; I just don’t see adults behavior being modified so obviously and cheaply.

      Thanks for the comment! By the way, your FF14 review has made me want to give the game a try!

    • October 29, 2013 12:25 am

      Well, I don’t know about this. Let’s try an analogy. Let’s say you have a child who is generally a good and kind child. Then one day she shoplifts something.

      Do you let it slide, under the theory that most of the time she’s good? Or do you intervene and emphasize that this is unacceptable behavior?

      It seems to me that a parent should take second path. Unacceptable behavior is unacceptable, regardless of past positive behavior.

    • October 29, 2013 10:00 am

      I think you may have conflated my two points. I agree that the strategy is likely better for kids, and I agree that your example is correct. However, for adults, I think that their personalities are too set for such an overt and simple behavior modification to work.

      I suspect that the “behavior modification” that this supposedly provides is really just a statement of the obvious: if “normally good” people do something wrong, then they know it was wrong, hence my point that my behavior wasn’t going to be changed due to the fact that I’m a rational, thinking person who makes decisions based on reason.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Samus permalink
    October 28, 2013 12:36 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with it, but I do understand the (rather depressing) theory behind the system. The idea is that a troll is a troll. If you could reason with them, they wouldn’t be a troll. Sending a warning to an actual toxic player will have no effect.

    Meanwhile, a “normally good” player can be reasoned with. You can tell that kind of player, “hey, your recent behavior was unacceptable,” and they will at least be capable of comprehending. So I can understand why Riot might take this approach, even if it is a somewhat sociopathic method.

    More specific to you, I think the problem was that you did something that is objectively undeniable: going AFK. I am convinced these are the only behaviors that ever merit any kind of action of even acknowledgement. As long as you don’t post anything objectively offensive (racist, homophobic, etc.), Riot and the Tribunal have no problems with even the most toxic behavior.

    • October 28, 2013 6:45 pm

      I tend to agree with your point, and most of what I have to say about is I’ll copy from my comment to Balkoth:
      I understand the why of it, I just don’t agree with it. A message sent the next time they log on might be wiser, as it would still perhaps generate a turnaround without being delivered in the heat of the irritation. The timing, not so much the strategy, seems off. On top of that, I think you’re right that it’s easy to target overt behaviors, like leaving, which is why bullying gets overlooked so much in school, as does depression, the combination of which causes virtually all teen suicides. That it’s easy doesn’t make it wise; in fact, I’d argue that the opposite is true. Conquer a challenging problem, like identifying 90% of the harassment cases in a game and punish the offenders until they stop or are banned. That would impress me. And it is possible. Check out this article:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/how-to-stop-bullies/309217/

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Beshara permalink
      October 29, 2013 2:35 pm

      That article was a very interesting read. I understand companies being leery about adding more manpower jobs, but I would think there would be a way to use that technology side by side with what they currently use.

      I was surprised to see the story of the three boys not believing that the girl they were speaking to was real. I know there are a ton of LFR and LFD stories about how people treat others as if they aren’t real people, but I can’t understand how someone could truly believe that. I do understand that there is appeal to playing a bad guy in games like Mass Effect and others where you control the alignment of your character, but not in real life, on social media or in a game dealing with other real people (except RP, where it can be agreed upon because it is telling a story).

      I do hope that this kind of tech will be adopted and implemented soon. If it could help stop toxic behavior I am all for it.

  4. October 28, 2013 3:14 pm

    Samus makes a good point.

    It’s very hard for Riot Games to determine whether your teammates were new or bad or trolling. Extremely, extremely hard.

    On the flip side, you clearly went AFK. They don’t know the reason but they do know you went AFK — which they never want to happen. Hence they warn you.

    It’s similar to LFR, really. Let’s say you normally get smooth runs and do well along with giving supportive direction and people listen. But then you get a bad run where people are trolls/jerks and don’t listen and things are miserable so you leave. You still get penalized by Blizzard for leaving the run.

    Similar to Riot Games, though, the system generally tracks your patterns and gives milder penalties/warnings to behavior it sees as the exception — but you still did something you weren’t “supposed” to do.

    Really, there’s a very simple solution. Two, really.

    1, only do Flex or Normal runs with people who actually care (hint hint nudge nudge) and abandon LFR

    2, stop doing LoL and play NWN instead

    • October 28, 2013 6:41 pm

      Very subtle (;

      I’d be happy to abandon LFR, but alas the raids I need aren’t what my current raid group is doing (hint hint nudge nudge), and while I’d be happy to run raids 3 nights a week as I used to, I’m not anywhere near up to organizing 3 flex raids on Openraid.us, a site I barely have any clue how to operate. (;

      In all seriousness, I need the runestones, and right now LFR is where I can get them. If we end up doing some of the runestone-generating stuff, that’s well and good, but I tend to agree with you; I avoided LFR this past week and got 0 runestones, which I’m not proud of, but the one LFR I got into wiped over and over on the drake boss (SoO 2 first boss), so I dropped and said screw it.

      As for NWN, it was indicated I’d need a group to do that. If I don’t, I might be more amenable to the idea, but it’s an old, old game and the only people I know are my wife, who’s not interested in that sort of thing, and my buddy, who can’t see anything nor owns the game.

      On the actual topic at hand, I understand the why of it, I just don’t agree with it. A message sent the next time they log on might be wiser, as it would still perhaps generate a turnaround without being delivered in the heat of the irritation. The timing, not so much the strategy, seems off. On top of that, I think you’re right that it’s easy to target overt behaviors, like leaving, which is why bullying gets overlooked so much in school, as does depression, the combination of which causes virtually all teen suicides. That it’s easy doesn’t make it wise; in fact, I’d argue that the opposite is true. Conquer a challenging problem, like identifying 90% of the harassment cases in a game and punish the offenders until they stop or are banned. That would impress me. And it is possible. Check out this article:
      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/how-to-stop-bullies/309217/

      Thanks for the comment!

    • October 28, 2013 7:15 pm

      After I wrote the last comment, I felt a bit guilty about not working on my cloak, so I queued for an LFR. I figured I had the gear to heal a bit, so I figured I’d get a quick queue time and just do my part.

      I was top healer. We wiped on protectors from people standing in death over and over and no good healers to take care of it.

      I don’t want to do LFR any more, but I don’t see another choice.

    • October 29, 2013 2:16 am

      “I’d be happy to abandon LFR, but alas the raids I need aren’t what my current raid group is doing (hint hint nudge nudge)”

      “I don’t want to do LFR any more, but I don’t see another choice.”

      You could just ask if they want to do the other Flexes or normal ToT when you see them! It’s almost like they can’t read your mind or something. Weird.

      And you can also simply join OpenRaid chat and find groups there on spur of the moment if you’d like. Plenty of ways to abandon LFR!

      “As for NWN, it was indicated I’d need a group to do that.”

      Say what? Who indicated that?

      There are plenty of single player campaigns (and by “plenty” I mean “hundreds”) along with online worlds where you could play by yourself most of the time if you didn’t want to group. Plenty of campaigns and worlds where you could play in a group of 2-3 and quite a few worlds where you could play in a group of 5+.

      “A message sent the next time they log on might be wiser, as it would still perhaps generate a turnaround without being delivered in the heat of the irritation.”

      Possibly, yeah. On the flip side, they don’t know that you went AFK due to irritation versus AFK because pizza arrived at the door or whatever.

      “Check out this article”

      That’s fascinating. But they’re barely able to do it with short chat messages — how are you expecting them to do it with game behavior in LoL?

    • October 29, 2013 10:08 am

      Bah :P
      I feel weird enough being carried on the Wednesdays I already get to go; asking for more for myself when it wasn’t really particularly beneficial for those others involved really isn’t in my character.

      You’re quite right, of course, about NWN, but I was referring to what you’d mentioned about your campaign; I thought you’d mentioned that the campaign you wrote was designed for more than one, and frankly I wasn’t particularly interested in playing the game again, but rather in playing in your campaign. If single player’s an option, we can talk more.

      As for the harassment issue, most of the chat logs in LoL are composed of short chat messages, so I suspect they could use the same method in a similar situation.

    • October 29, 2013 5:37 pm

      Due your outrageous and incessant demands we’ll do a full clear on Wednesday night: http://openraid.us/events/view/139884

      “I thought you’d mentioned that the campaign you wrote was designed for more than one”

      Hmm…you’d have to point me to the comment since I don’t recall saying that. I did some work for some online worlds which is meant for 3-7 people (depending on the content) but the main project I’m working on at the moment is definitely single player.

      “frankly I wasn’t particularly interested in playing the game again, but rather in playing in your campaign.”

      Definitely understandable — and I was also thinking of the hundreds of user created campaigns. The Aielund Saga in particular is amazing and works very well in multiplayer. Also many really good single player campaigns. My module is not really a campaign per se — only would take like 3-4 hours for most people to play through it and it’s focused primarily on boss combat instead of story/character/big choices/etc.

      “As for the harassment issue, most of the chat logs in LoL are composed of short chat messages, so I suspect they could use the same method in a similar situation.”

      True, but would that help in this particular case? I didn’t notice you saying anything about chat — just that the teammates were idiots and didn’t listen to you. If they just went around being terrible while not saying anything how can Riot effectively measure that?

      @Tellah
      “If you’re talking about the original NWN…and you say that you don’t know anyone else who has it or likes it…I will choke you out”

      Well…not the ORIGINAL NWN from AoL, but the “original” one from 2002 or so from Bioware (usually called NWN1).

  5. Tellah permalink
    October 29, 2013 1:40 pm

    If you’re talking about the original NWN…and you say that you don’t know anyone else who has it or likes it…I will choke you out. With Gary the Garrote. From a hidden position. With sneak attack damage from the kidney shot I give. +1d1. (I’m a bad rogue).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers

%d bloggers like this: