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How Overwatch Needs to Learn From League's Punishment System

Overwatch needs to handle bad behavior with better punishment

In recent weeks, Overwatch; once sprawling with love and unity in a loyal community, has now made a new turn in direction. With its increasing popularity, negativity has become more evident, which is also the case in various shooters. Amassing such a large fanbase and community, Overwatch has now been set to be a competitive game where many players always behave in a harsh way.

Competition breeds negativity in all shapes and forms and by Overwatch now becoming less of a pass-time game and more focused competitive play, players have now run into many who take the game too far. Bad behavior goes from "flaming" people in voice-chat all the way to banning someone for picking characters you don't like (most significantly Widowmaker). In many cases, this foul play cannot be stopped and Blizzard has tried to take the matter in their own hands. They have tried to fix the pressing issue to little success.

*The wheel of negativity. Basic lines anyone
and everyone has used in playing*

Blizzard once had a feature that allowed players to "prefer/avoid this player", working well against trolls, however, it was more predominantly used by players who did not want to be matched against higher skilled players or with players that were "bad." This feature broke the game dynamic in finding matches to challenge players, giving themselves easy opponents to rank their SR up quicker. Blizzard is continuously working on ways to end this problem, but to little success and has lead even fans to give ideas. Some piece of advice from myself is to take some ideas from popular games, specifically League of Legends.

*If this is what honor looks like in physical form, count me in, just look at teddy*

Starting off with just punishment, it has been dealt with consistently by LoL. The game itself has issued a system of matchmaking all negative players in what is known as "Prisoner's Island" and uses LeaverBuster, for players who have gone AFK (away from keyboard) or have rage-quit. However, it is evident that LoL understands this will not stop cease bad behavior. Although these features assist the system, they focus on reforming negative players first.

Instead, LoL puts a small group of negative players in a majority of neutral-good players with chat restrictions, which sees negative players getting their needed reform. The restrictions give the player chat "ammunition" to be used for either flaming teammates (learning nothing), or used to perform successful strategies and ganks to help them learn; positive play results in better play. It has been stated as well that,

With both LeaverBuster and ranked restrictions, social pressure acts as a lever, encouraging reform. We’ve found the approach of surrounding bad behavior with good influences tends to lead to the best results for improving the experience and helping the community actively reject negative behavior.

This has lead to a substantial 40% in player reform that Overwatch could benefit from.

In addition to punishment, to make a quick point, Overwatch could benefit from a more specific report system much like LoL. This allows more accurate and appropriate action to take place by filtering the action and being taking into account accordingly.

Moving on, however, is another aspect that could issue more positivity, that will definitely get more players to be more positive. This feature of course is a reward system for good behavior (In a shocking discovery, rewarding someone for good behavior makes them want to continue it).

This particular part in this article deals with psychological factors in video games and everyday life that has also been instituted in LoL. To put the psychology away first, it has been scientifically proven that by rewarding good behavior, it will breed positivity and by punishing bad behavior it will suppress negativity (but positive reinforcement topples the lesser).

Punishment in games has players reform, but nothing rewards good behavior to continue playing with the same morality and positivity. In LoL, they have changed this with a Honor system that acknowledge players for teamwork, being friendly and helpful, and other accolades. Honor could be implemented to give real rewards to consistently positive players. In addition, it helps if this honor system could be used for bonuses in the game itself, such as an experience bonus system or going as far to reward loot boxes or in-game currency. This positive reinforcement to stay on the path of good, will keep negativity away from the game itself.

Overwatch needs to learn  how to control toxicity in its game and could be done by following these steps, either from LoL or fans. Are there any ideas that you have?

Published Feb. 15th 2017

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