Single player campaigns are fine, but there are times when even the most solitary player feels a need to strike out into the world of online and multiplayer gaming. Although this can be a lot of fun, there is a vocal minority of gamers who disrupt or even ruin the enjoyment of others by slinging verbal abuse, sending harassing messages or griefing during online play.
With the arrival of the new console generation, it feels like now would be a good time for Microsoft and Sony to start giving gamers the tools with which to identify users who make online and multiplayer gaming a great experience, and to avoid players who are likely to cause trouble. Microsoft has unveiled their Xbox Live reputation system that would tag users with labels ranging from “Good” to “Avoid me,” and now it looks like Sony may be planning to follow suit.
In an image from a PlayStation survey posted by VGX, Sony asked customers whether they would be interested in a “player reputation system based on a user rating system. Obviously such a system would be open to abuse if not implemented correctly – for example, an especially skilled player might receive a slew of negative reports from disgruntled opponents – but it safeguarded against false reports this could be a crucial tool for maintaining a civilized online community for PS4 gamers.
What’s interesting is that both the Xbox Live reputation system and Sony’s proposed PS4 user rating system seem to follow suggestions made during an Extra Credits episode following controversy over online harassment in the gaming community. If implemented correctly, sending abusive communications or deliberately griefing other players should get gamer trolls slapped with a poor reputation. It would be a good motivator for players to moderate their own behavior instead of lashing out every time they lose.
Other suggestions made include having players who are frequently muted start out on automute during matches, in order to prevent them from immediately slinging insults, and also for specific games to implement clan or guild reputation ratings to encourage better behavior through peer pressure.
Let’s hope that the gaming community votes in favor of the PS4 reputation system and that Sony puts it into place effectively. Perhaps one day we’ll have all gamers abiding by Wheaton’s Law.