I do agree that progression systems can exacerbate the problem -- HotS is pretty lighthanded there -- you get 30g for winning and 20g for losing, so it's not a big deal if you lose. At least for me, I'm only thinking about winning/losing and not how much gold I get. All but one of the daily challenges (that give bonus gold) count whether you win or lose, so it barely affects them there too. I think CSGO is similar, right? You get a chance to get a crate, but your performance doesn't help your chances. I like that and the progression system in AoT will probably be similar. It'd be nice to find a system that encourages players to try new weapons/equipment/roles without compromising team strategy.
From my blog post:
Multiplayer achievements (and Destiny bounties) can help a game by motivating the player to explore and master mechanics they might have been otherwise ignoring. Unfortunately, they can influence player behavior away from what would be the optimal strategy for that particular match/moment (e.g. you’re more likely to make bad melee attempts if you’re trying to get a melee attack achievement/bounty). This is especially problematic when the same set of bounties are given to everyone at the same time – when the queen bounties first appeared, crucible instantly became overcrowded with people exclusively using hand cannons and scout rifles trying to get headshots for their bounties.
I take a bit of issue with the "casual" stigma that HotS has. It seems to me that the main reason it has that stigma is that it went against the grain and ditched last hitting, replaced items with talents, and uses team exp, so fans of games with those mechanics rationalized the changes by applying the "casual" label instead of looking at how they actually affect the game design. With that being said, the stigma is still real and might still back your point by keeping certain kinds of players away and affect overall toxicity.
I think there's two separate issues here:
- What ideas are presented
- How those ideas are presented
I think issue #2 is generally more straightforward. Yes, it's impossible to avoid offending everybody -- somebody out there may be offended by something completely reasonable. But it's clearly possible to have a consensus on generally offensive communication. Even when relatively mild, calling someone an idiot doesn't elevate the conversation -- it just introduces rage. Enforcing consequences for clearly offensive behavior doesn't hurt the conversation -- it does the opposite by allowing people to focus on what's actually being discussed instead of degenerating into ad hominem attacks.
But even issue #2 has some gray areas that are less obvious but can still hurt a community. I think this post does a pretty good job highlighting some of the gray-area issues that can come up (the author is one of the creators of this forum software we're using).
Issue #1 is probably more complicated. Are all ideas worthy of discussion? If some members are constantly arguing that the sky is green, is there a point where it's better for the community to prevent them from discussing the green sky theory? Probably, right? You could see how the argument would get so repetitive that it loses all value for the community. The blue sky people aren't learning anything new and the green sky people can't be convinced.
I think the "two sides" problem (2:30-9:00) is also relevant.
But how do you decide what to allow? I think that's up to the community leaders and it's part of what makes communities different from each other. Luckily for us, we're talking about communication inside a game, so for the most part we can tune our policies to maximize discussion about Arms of Telos. The policies on these forums might be more relaxed, but do people really need to have deep conversations about politics inside the game? Probably not, right? They should be communicating in such a way that is helping each other win the match at hand.
I don't think anybody argues the twitter block lists are perfect -- they're a shortcut, and for some people, an effective one that overcomes its shortcomings. I never used those block lists, but I think it's important to acknowledge that people shouldn't be forced to talk to somebody they don't want to. I can't come to your house at 3am and force you to talk about Giraffes. You can shut the door in my face and go back to sleep before I even get a chance to tell you what I want to talk about. Doesn't matter if you know me or not or have the wrong impression of me. I don't think it's accurate to call that censorship (as the block list critics would accuse).
I think it's also worth pointing out that echo chambers aren't a unique consequence of enforcing rules/moderation. A few bad apples can indirectly push out more moderate people that don't want to deal with them, resulting in an environment where only bad apples are comfortable and stick around, resulting in a bad apple echo chamber where other ideas are dogpiled. There weren't any rules against the moderate people -- they just didn't think it was worth it to argue with the bad apples and left. But the result is the same as an environment with overly restrictive rules. You cannot abolish echo chambers by simply having no rules.
How do you prevent people from labeling someone as a bigot or excluding them from real life gatherings? That seems mostly unrelated to rules or enforcement.
I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case, but I don't want to act like it's an unavoidable problem we can't try to solve or improve upon.
It's possible that private servers in AoT could maybe have different codes of conduct and moderate behavior on their own terms, but I also think it's important to have a baseline. Why shouldn't new players expect a nice experience? Instead of giving new players a mine detector and expecting them to do the work to navigate a minefield, why not just clean up the minefield? I think some of this goes back to the problems with muting mentioned above.
At the end of the day, I guess the big question might be: How does allowing toxic behavior make the game and its community better?