You’re cruising through your favorite MMO, bashing mobs, collecting XP, and happily playing the game. Then you do something that makes someone else unhappy. Maybe you “claim jumped” on a node (a popular WOW passtime), or stole a kill (a favorite accusation in WOT), or said something in-character that was taken as offensive (happens a lot in LOTRO). Whatever it was, it got you reported.
In most games, that report goes to a moderator’s desktop and they (eventually) look into it. Usually they’ll just look at the alleged offense and make a ruling based on server logs, chat logs, etc. Most of the time the result is just a warning to the player delivered via their inbox or in-game mailbox and the case is closed. Repeat offenders may get some kind of punishment like a loss of XP or suspended game access or chat box access for a while. The very worst offenders will be banned from the game.
Not so in League of Legends. That MMO’s developers came up with something different – a Tribunal System.
Introduced back in may, the system has players sitting in tribunals that consider offenses and mete out democratic justice. So far, says Riot Games, the Tribunal has punished more than 1.4% of the game’s population through more than 16 million votes; and half of those punished never get reported for offending again. If only our real life prison system had that kind of reform rate.
The Tribunal has two great advantages over the more traditional moderator scheme: it’s democratic, so players feel they have more of a say and participation in the game and it’s cheaper than hiring people or training volunteers.
In LoL, the players are reported in the same ways they are reported in most MMOs. Either in-game via the built-in offense reporting system or through the website’s system. A single report will result in nothing, but multiple reports for the same offense by the same player (Riot hasn’t said how many are required, but the reports don’t have to all stem from the same incident) get that player added to the Tribunal’s case list.
The Tribunal itself is made up of volunteer players of level 30 or higher who can join ad hoc to become a Tribunal Judge. These Judges review case complaints and examine evidence, which the system automatically compiles for each case. The Judge can then call for punishment, pardon, or just pass on the case. The Judge’s vote is added to the overall Tribunal vote for that player/offense and once enough votes are tallied, judgement is issued.
Judgements can be in the form of warnings, temporary bans, and even permanent expulsion from the game. Options for punishment vary according to the number of offenses the player has been found guilty of in the past and the severity of the charges laid. Any ban from the game is ultimately reviewed by Riot Games staff before being enacted.
Tribunal members are limited in the number of cases they can review per day and are themselves scored according to how often their judgements match other judges in a case.
DeadlySinnerBob is a player accused of posting objectionable, sexually-themed comments in the world chat box in-game. Four people reported the same incident and then two more reported another the next day.
MaryQuiteContrary is a Tribunal Judge. She reviews the case, looks at the chat logs, and sees that DSB has definitely been offensive. She votes to punish him and recommends a temporary suspension since he has not been found guilty of anything before. Other judges also vote similarly to MQC with the majority consensus being a 3-day game suspension for Bob. Game staff review the punishment and approve it.
Simple and democratic. Few players are likely to be victims of abuse in such a system if the judges are randomized for each trial. Overall, it’s a great system. It would be nice to see it implemented in other MMOs.
Here’s is an infographic on the LoL Tribunal system just released by Riot Games: