Player Justice!

Back in the day, the idea that players might be able to police their own virtual worlds was quite hot for awhile. After all, lots of online communities such as bulletin boards, newsgroups and the like manage to police themselves using moderators – so why not online games?

In the spirit of reinventing the wheel, League of Legends devs just announced in an interview that they have a new plan to clean up their notoriously obnoxious community. Player-run tribunals.

In an interview with Kotaku they describe their plans which look to involve letting higher level (elite?) players act as player judges and deal with reports of misbehaviour, and then they’re planning to reward player judges who consistently show wise behaviour. The cynical may at this point be thinking ‘smart way to avoid paying GMs to do this.’

And aside from all the possible ways this could go wrong (they do note that they don’t think playing badly should be a punishable offence, which I imagine is good for player retention), I think it’s an interesting idea. There’s no special reason why minimum wage GMs should be able to do a better job of judgement than active players. Especially in a game like this where it should be easy enough to make sure that the judge has no connection with the players involved.

On my old MUSH, we had player judges/ arbiters with an appeal procedure. It wasn’t all that uncommon a phenomenon on those types of games. The only real concern was conflicts of interests. We found the process worked better when the judges didn’t play the actual game, but evidently it was tricky attracting volunteers to come act as judges on a game they didn’t even play.

EVE does have a player council but because it’s tied to the in game world, any issues of power and metagaming are explicitly part of the council, rather than it being set up to deal purely with OOC issues. Plus player behaviour in EVE is supposedly dealt with via the anarchy of sandbox PvP.

With LoL I’m mostly curious to see how it goes. If you give the more hardcore players the ability to set rules for playing styles, will you end up with something like Elitist Jerks (who give out bans for bad spelling) or is it going to be a free for all with everyone out to get whatever the best ‘judge rewards’ are.  In fact, should you really reward the judges at all?

Would you be interested in a game that let you act as a tribunal judge?