Sometimes to get a positive result, you need to appeal to people's baser instincts, not their better angels. Is Dawngate's karma system a better solution to changing player behavior than League of Legends's honor system?
Last week, my colleague Jorge Albor wrote about the problem of sportsmanship in multiplayer games like League of Legends (“‘Duel Me, Noob’: Salvaging Honor in Games”, PopMatters, 1 May 2014). And it is true that League has an unfortunate (albeit accurate) reputation for having a community who struggles a great deal with sportsmanship. Since MOBAs are games that rely heavily on an economy based on performance (killing opponents gains players gold that can then be used to buy equipment that will give them an advantage as a game progresses), one of the chief causes of trash talking is people chastising their own teammates for “helping the other team” by getting themselves killed.
Albor was less focused on that specific issue, though, and more on addressing the problem of general bad behavior in League of Legends‘s matches and how to develop a sense of honor in players of the game to offset bad sportsmanship of all stripes. Riot Games themselves have taken steps to discourage bad behavior (via a reporting system that can lead to a banned account) and to encourage good behavior by allowing players to honor one another for good teamwork, friendliness, and helpfulness, though there is no tangible reward for earning accolades from teammates beyond a ribbon that is affixed to one’s avatar before matches that indicates that you are an “honorable” player.