Over the past several years, online play has become a cornerstone of modern console gaming. Thanks to services such as Xbox Live, players can be matched up with other players the world over, creating unique, fun and most importantly, anonymous gameplay experiences. Many AAA titles, such as Halo or Call of Duty, put as much focus on multiplayer as they do on their single player, and some new titles, like Titanfall, completely forgo a single player experience in favor of a multiplayer one.
Online multiplayer experiences can be engaging, challenging, and fun, but they’re not infallible. While most online gamers play by the book, there are some out there who follow a different creed. We often call these players “griefers” or “trolls.” Their sole purpose on the virtual playing-field is to elicit as much anxiety, anger and annoyance out of their fellow players as is humanly possible. Sadly, because these trolls thrive on the attention that their tactics provide, they continue to behave outlandishly, hurting the game and its community, while remaining completely faceless the entire time.
For Xbox gamers, this poses a problem. What can we do about online trolls or griefers? The only direct actions we can take are to mute them, review them, or “file a complaint” (which we all know is simply a placebo effect at this point).
What do these actions have in common? They do absolutely nothing. We are left with one option – to ignore. It seems like a rather obvious solution, but why isn’t there anything we can do as a preventative action, and why isn’t there an in-game solution? On PC many games have “vote-kick” systems, where you can poll the game’s players to kick a griefer or a troll out of the game. Many PC games also have online moderators, who have the power to kick, or completely ban a player at their discretion.
Xbox One has a new solution for the future of online gaming, which they say will “…encourage good behavior between strangers.” Here’s how it works.
- Every Xbox One gamer will have an online “reputation”
- The new Smart Match system will line up players will similar reputations
- The system is built to “…educate those who don’t seem to follow good social gaming norms”
Xbox One will have a similar player feedback system to the one we’re familiar with today on the Xbox 360, but with a simpler mechanism that factors in direct feedback, as well as smaller actions like muting players in game. Over time, a player’s reputation can go up or down based on long-term in-game behavior. This reputation can be seen on your gamercard. Xbox One’s Smart Match will then match you up with people who share similar reputation to you, providing a much more consistently fun gaming experience. This also means that the trolls will be stuck playing with other trolls.
This seems like a great solution to the online troublemaking of today, but there’s still some questions left unanswered.
- Is redemption possible for an online troll or griefer?
- Will reputation be calculated as a long-term average, or will it reset periodically?
- Are there other punishments for low reputation, or rewards for high reputation?
- Will it be completely impossible to be matched up with players with differing reputations, or just less likely?
Microsoft will most likely address these questions in the future. Without a doubt, Xbox Live on the Xbox One is shaping up to deliver a much more solid online experience than we’ve ever seen before, and online reputation is just the beginning.
Source: Major Nelson