The Problem with League of Legends’ Tribunal
The Tribunal in League of Legends is a section on their website that allows players of the game to login and view incidents in which other players have been reported. Called a “case,” players then can pass judgment whether to punish or pardon based on what evidence is presented before them. In theory it sounds like it would be a good system of jurisprudence for a game as huge as League of Legends but in practice it is highly flawed and has made it so you must walk on egg shells while playing the game online.
As a disclaimer I will say that I have not been personally banned, suspended, or anything of that nature so this is not an article induced by rage. As someone with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice who is also professionally certified in security administration, the many shortcomings in the current system feel incredibly obvious to me. Listed below are several problems with the current tribunal:
Not enough time is spent reviewing each case.
Reducing the timer on the tribunal was one of the biggest mistakes Riot has made. Now a tribunal member must wait for a measly 20 second countdown timer to expire before punishing or pardoning. 20 seconds? Really? Imagine if a judge spent 20 seconds on a case in court before sending you to prison for life. That would never fly in real life, so why does it here? The timer should not be 20 seconds, it should be 20 minutes! Okay maybe not that long, but the timer needs to be increased based on how much stuff is presented in the case.
Suggested Fix: Multiple incidents should increase the minimum amount of time required to spend reviewing a case. How long the game chat is should increase the minimum amount of time required to review. How can someone read three games full of chat in 20 seconds? In many cases, they can’t which leads to people simply clicking punish out of laziness. On the other hand, some cases immediately seem pretty cut and dry but that brings us to the next problem.
Lack of evidence
Most of the time there is not enough evidence gathered in order to make a case. The case file has three sections: the reports filed by players and their comments (which are usually blank), the game chat dialogue, and the scoreboard which shows only the reported player and his/her teammates but not the enemy team. This is not enough information
Suggested Fix: The game video needs to be saved and reviewed in many cases. For example, what if someone refuses to play and is standing at the fountain so you report him as “afk.” It would be impossible to validate this report if that person is still talking in game chat and if that person has a reasonable number of deaths to imply he had played all game. You could never tell if he actually was idle or not without video proof.
A case file also needs to include pre-game and post-game lobby chat as that is currently not recorded and could be a crucial deciding factor in the outcome of a case.
Player highlighting leads to simple-minded decisions
The player who was reported is highlighted in the chat and on the scoreboard to make it easier for the tribunal to distinguish what he said and did from other people in the game. It should NOT be easier because a tribunal member should be reviewing the entire game, not just looking at a single person’s behavior. Imagine for a moment that someone has harassed you all game insulting you and cussing at you. Finally you tell him to “shut the F up” (but use the actual word). He then reports you for offensive language as part of his troll.
Since only your dialogue is highlighted in bright purple, lazy tribunal members will scroll until they see it, read just that, see that you cussed, and click punish. Never mind what this other guy did. You’re in the wrong here.
The most common argument in defense of this is that “I don’t care what other people did, I’m only looking at your behavior.” This is akin to saying “I don’t care that this man broke into your house and murdered your wife, I’m only looking at the fact you retaliated and stabbed him to death. Life in prison for murder.” That wouldn’t happen in real life, so why should it here? The concept of self defense exists for a reason.
Suggested Fix: Make it more difficult to distinguish between who was reported and who wasn’t. Remove the player highlighting and make all the players the same color. Another idea would be to make a case two pages where a tribunal participant is shown the incidents in question but initially has no knowledge of who got reported. After carefully reviewing all of the evidence, they move on to the next page in which the player who was reported is revealed to them, and they decide whether to punish or pardon, but the evidence from the previous page no longer shows up. This would force them to spend more time reviewing and memorizing the entirety of the incident without bias.
Stupid rules / reporting options
In fact, why is cussing a reportable offense anyway? Was this game made solely for little kids? Sure there are probably kids on the game but if a player is too young to read a few cuss words then perhaps they should not be playing an online game over the internet. The tribunal should not act in place of a child’s parents.
While on the subject, why is “unskilled” a reportable offense? I once saw someone who got banned for a week because he built AD as Orianna. He went 4/5 but his teammates reported him as “unskilled” because he played an unorthodox style of Orianna and they lost. Such ridiculous reports should never even make it to the tribunal let alone result in the tribunal collectively agreeing to punish. This is proof positive that people just click punish based on their own emotions and not actual factual evidence. It is also proof that the majority of people who use the tribunal should not be allowed to.
Suggested Fix: Remove the offensive language and unskilled options as reportable. The only things that should be punishable are things that someone intentionally does which affect the outcome of the game such as quitting, feeding, continual verbal harassment, assisting the enemy team, etc. You get the idea.
There is a profanity filter for a reason. If someone doesn’t want to read it, they can leave it on. Maybe there could be an option to customize the filter to star out additional words not currently caught by it.
No credentials required
The only requirements necessary for someone to participate in the tribunal is that they are level 20 and aren’t banned. Really? That’s it? That allows way too many people who have no business passing judgment on other players to participate in the tribunal because it boosts their ego and makes them feel powerful. Should a little kid that doesn’t even have common sense be allowed to get me suspended?
Suggested Fix: It needs to be harder to participate in the tribunal. Maybe there should be some sort of quiz or something which tests ones knowledge of the Summoner’s Code. Maybe there should be an application process to become a tribunal participant which must be approved by an employee at Riot. Or at least increase the level cap to 30!
Players are rewarded with small amounts of IP if their decisions are agreed with by other members of the tribunal. Why? The incentive for people to participate in the tribunal should be to better the game and get rid of troublemakers, not for their own benefit. What is stopping someone from going into tribunal, clicking punish repeatedly, and then reaping the benefits when 10% of their decisions are agreed with?
Suggested Fix: Perhaps there should be some sort of threshold, maybe 50% or even higher, which if you fall below you get punished yourself. This would force people to be far more careful about their decisions and think twice before they press the punish button.