Laura Hudson writes: “harassment on the Internet is ubiquitous, particularly for women. In a 2013 Pew Research survey, 23 percent of people ages 18 to 29 reported being stalked or harassed online; advocacy groups report that around 70 percent of the cases they deal with involve female victims, and one study of online gaming found players with female voices received three times as many negative responses as men.”
Riot Games, publisher of the League of Legends game, studies the phenomenon. It found “that persistently negative players were only responsible for roughly 13 percent of the game’s bad behavior. The other 87 percent was coming from players whose presence, most of the time, seemed to be generally inoffensive or even positive. These gamers were lashing out only occasionally, in isolated incidents—but their outbursts often snowballed through the community.”
Riot introduced changes in League of Legends:
1. “Riot turned off that chat function but allowed players to turn it on if they wanted. The impact was immediate. A week before the change, players reported that more than 80 percent of chat between opponents was negative. But a week after switching the default, negative chat had decreased by more than 30 percent while positive chat increased nearly 35 percent.”
2. “When Riot’s team started its research, it noticed that the recidivism rate was disturbingly high; in fact, based on number of reports per day, some banned players were actually getting worse after their bans than they were before. At the time, players were informed of their suspension via emails that didn’t explain why the punishment had been meted out. So Riot decided to try a new system that specifically cited the offense. This led to a very different result: Now when banned players returned to the game, their bad behavior dropped measurably.”
3. ” jury of fellow players votes on reported instances of bad behavior. Empowered to issue everything from email warnings to longer-term bans, users have cast tens of millions of votes about the behavior of fellow players. When Riot asked its staff to audit the verdicts, it found that the staff unanimously agreed with users in nearly 80 percent of cases. And this system is not just punishing players; it’s rehabilitating them, elevating more than 280,000 censured gamers to good standing.”