Anyone who has played online multiplayer games, especially those focused on combat, can attest to how caustic other players can be. League of Legends creators are fighting that, rather successfully, with a positive-reinforcement honor system.
The Mary Sue reports:
Here’s the background: Six months ago, Riot established Team Player Behavior — affectionately called Team PB&J — a group of experts in psychology, neuroscience, and statistics (already, I am impressed). At the helm is Jeffrey Lin, better known as Dr. Lyte, Riot’s lead designer of social systems. As quoted in a recent article at Polygon:
We want to show other companies and other games that it is possible to tackle player behavior, and with certain systems and game design tools, we can shape players to be more positive.
Which brings us to the Honor system. Honor is a way for players to reward each other for good behavior. This is divvied up into four categories: Friendly, Helpful, Teamwork, and Honorable Opponent. At the end of a match, players can hand out points to those they deem worthy. These points are reflected on players’ profiles, but do not result in any in-game bonuses or rewards (though this may change in the future). All Honor does is show that you played nicely.
The most fascinating thing is that it’s working. Reports of abusive behavior have gone down and player satisfaction has gone up, all in response to a system that essentially awards valueless you’re-a-nice-player points. Hit up the link below for the full article and further analysis of League of Legends’ success with the program.