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Implementing a positive reinforcement environment; is it possible?

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Over on the EU forums, poster Xie brought up a topic that cycles in and out of the spotlight as well as the gaming community in general: how to better discourage people from being awful to their fellow gamers, or in this case, how to encourage people to behave better. Xie proposed a "thumbs up" system similar in style to the League of Legends honor system, where you can give someone a thumbs up or "like" them, and when they reach certain milestones they get some kind of non-combat perk, like a title. Others are quick to point out that this type of system could be easily gamed, and CM Vaneras adds that regulating such a system is the obvious drawback, and it would require extensive testing in order to iron out any potential exploits before live implementation.

In honesty, I doubt a system like the one Xie proposes could ever work, at least partially because it would be too difficult to police. In a game with 8 million players, how can we ever know whether a "like" was truly given honestly or not? Furthermore, the cynical part of my brain is calmly reminding me that not getting a "like" isn't going to deter those players who are determined to be rude, cruel, or offensive. While I appreciate the logic behind the idea to reward good behavior in place of, or in addition to, punishing poor behavior, I don't believe this particular type of positive reinforcement is effective. Or rather, I don't believe that anything Blizzard can do with regards to player behavior is effective, short of the banhammer, and that is a blunt instrument not appropriate for all situations. In truth, the overall tone of community behavior is determined by what the community is willing to tolerate. So if we want people to behave better in WoW, we need to stop tolerating bad behavior. Admittedly, it's not easy to do, but my own experience has taught me that it really is the only long-term solution. How do you respond to or deal with poor or offensive behavior from other players? In your ideal world (of Warcraft), how would such things be handled?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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