It’s hard to play a game of League of Legends without at least a bit of trash talking, but sometimes, the game’s competitive players go a bit too far.
The popular free to play game is somewhat notorious for its intense and sometimes vicious player base, and developer Riot Games realizes that it needs to regulate this intensity to make its community more welcoming for new or inexperienced players.
“We actually have built a team around this, to address it,” League of Legends lead producer Travis George told Gamasutra. “We call it, lovingly, the PB&J Team, which stands for Player Behavior and Justice Team. And there’s a lot of really talented folks on that team, including two PhDs. One’s a cognitive neuroscientist and one’s a behavioral psychologist.”
This PB&J Team uses its academic expertise and community experience to oversee the League of Legends community, and hopefully eliminate negative behavior.
“There’s a line, and that line generally is people being mean for the sake of being mean — telling you what to do, telling you how bad you are. And I think we can actually fix a lot of that,” George said.
In essence, the PB&J Team serves as a task force that examines trends and data in the League of Legends community to examine how and when players have a negative experience in the game. Once this task force identifies a common negative trend, it takes action to stop it.
The League of Legends “Tribunal” system is one such solution to the game’s aggressive players. This disciplinary system, introduced in 2011, allows the community to police itself to an extent, and punish players who commit repeated offenses. It’s had a big impact on the game so far, but Riot knows its PB&J Team still has much more work to do.
“It’s not only Tribunal and removing players,” said George. The PB&J Team is also responsible for “incentivizing positive behavior, and thinking about why people are upset in those games. So, trying to fix those and address those root problems.”
More recently, Riot Games introduced a new “Honor Initiative” program that allows players to reward each other for positive behavior. The system has only been in place for a few months, but early signs indicate that it has decreased negative behavior across the board.
And if the PB&J Team can keep this up, it might even be able to drive further growth for League of Legends as a whole. If new players enter the game and find a friendly, courteous community, they’ll be more likely to stick around, and that’ll only mean good things for the game’s player numbers and Riot’s bottom line.
With these various community initiatives, Riot has clearly acknowledged the importance of fostering a healthy online community. The company pours more resources into community building than it does any other form of promotion, and a quick look at the game’s online activity proves that the results speak for themselves.
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