Games should let us choose our own bets

After more than 2,000 hours in dota 2, I finally got sent to player jail for the first time. It’s worse than I ever imagined, which makes it an extremely effective tool. deterrent in a competitive game where teamwork is essential. But now that I’ve been punished, I see there’s a better way to administer multiplayer justice.

I’ve been proud of my perfect player conduct score since Valve introduced the rating system in 2019. (That’s a score of 10,000, by the way, and it comes with a reassuring green smiley when you’re doing well.) The score is a rough measure of whether you are an outstanding member of the gaming community. If your teammates report you a lot or leave games before they are over, your score goes down. I think those are the right metrics to track, even though people routinely abuse the reporting feature for petty reasons.

So here’s why Am in it dota 2 cone of shame: I have “quit” several games in the last few weeks due to have a life. For various reasons, I have had to deal with more urgent phone calls than usual and other things that have demanded my attention in a way that I cannot ignore. To be clear: I think it sucks when people leave team games prematurely, and in dowry, that includes being AFK for only a few minutes at a time. Even if you return to your keyboard and resume the game, the template is ready: you will be officially assessed with leaving the game. I’m not proud of abandoning my teammates, even if we ended up winning several of those games when I came back.

I have now been placed in what is called the “low priority matchmaking pool”, which is a very Lonely place. It’s hard to find a match; in my experience it can take up to 20 minutes to find enough players to queue up. And the really punitive measure is that you are required to earn several victories to escape this mating group; losing a game doesn’t get you any closer to freedom. Because each match can last anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, it could take many hours to get out of purgatory. As of this writing, I have one win left, after trying to get out of this for about five hours.

Some players are punished more than others for reasons beyond their control.

The way this system is set up means that some players will be punished more than others for reasons beyond their control, whether it’s their own skill level, their ability to complete a match with life happening in the background, or because required to complete matches with people who are more likely to be hideous trolls.

I’m a big supporter of moderation in social gaming, and have criticized Valve in the past for making people pay to avoid toxic community members. I’m usually on the side of further moderation in games. But my recent experience made me realize that many team games aren’t designed to recognize a particular segment of their audience: people who love the game but just can’t commit to its demands. This group encompasses all ages: children who are called to dinner; parents who suddenly have to attend to their children; and anyone else facing an urgent need in real life that is more important than playing a video game.

Let me reiterate something: I deserve be in dota 2 punishment pool because i did I abandon those games and leave my teammates hanging. And that’s true even if there were legitimate reasons to stay away from the keyboard. But that makes me think that multiplayer games that require moderation should make room for people who want to intentionally lower the stakes.

I thought dota 2 “Turbo” mode, which is an unrated mode that plays at a faster rate (sort of like listening to a podcast at 2x speed), was that solution. But I’ve found that people take it just as seriously as other modes. Players in turbo often get mad at their teammates for not displaying expert skill. And the system seems to punish people for leaving turbo games the same as other more serious game modes. While I’ve been playing turbo mode exclusively for a while now because it suits my lifestyle better, it hasn’t really lowered the stakes of the game.

So here is my request. Multiplayer games that require moderation and punishment groups should consider a bailout. There should be a game mode where all participants agree that it’s okay to leave early if necessary. Maybe you want to play this mode because everyone understands that you are learning the game or trying new things. Or maybe you know that even though you love the game, there are real demands on your attention and you might walk away. Whatever the reason, it would be nice if the games created a space for people who agree that, as in Whose line is this anyway? — everything is made up and the points do not matter.


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