If you’ve played League for any number of days, chances are you’ve experienced the sweet joy of having someone AFK or disconnect in a match. Though this article won’t discuss dealing with people deliberately leaving games, it will talk about a solution to all other factors leading to a person not participating, factors that are usually resolved within several minutes.
Pausing is a feature I love having in competitive games, like StarCraft, StarCraft II and DotA 2. It harkens back to a smaller, more mature audience that had a certain etiquette of sportsmanship I miss from my old days of playing Brood War. I’d like to see it brought to League, a game that’s innumerably bigger than the examples I’ve given (which brings its own issues), in a way that doesn’t harm a player’s experience, but helps him/her out in situations where you really need that pause.
[ Note ] There is pausing in pro-level games; this article discusses the possibility of adding a pause on the live client, for normal games, custom games and ranked games.
Pausing solves problems that lead to in-game toxicity and unbalanced matches. For all its downsides like extending game length, the possibility of someone spamming pauses to annoy others or prematurely unpausing a game, it’s a great tool to give to players because it empowers them in situations that would otherwise be out of their control.
A pause is an unspoken agreement between players that they’re willing to wait X amount of time in the interest of a fair and fun match. Because it’s an automated system, you can’t cheat it by disconnecting from malicious intent, as players would inevitably unpause.
Here are some scenarios I’m sure most of you have found themselves in that pausing could remedy:
- Real-life emergency you need only a few minutes to resolve
- ISP issue you can quickly contact your provider about
- Game crashing right before start due to poor Internet connection and you need time to reconnect
- Basically any scenario where you need to wait a few minutes to continue playing
I feel that arguing why there needs to be a pause in LoL is fairly redundant, but what it boils down to is this: it’s a 5v5 game and if you have someone in your match AFK on either side, it makes that match unfair and not fun. If you had a tried-and-tested solution to this issue, surely you’d want to figure out how to implement it, no ?
Who gets to pause and who doesn’t starts in the Tribunal. Say, a player is evaluating a case of a toxic element reported for offensive language. Upon reviewing the chat logs, the Tribunal user finds out that one of the reported player’s teammates has tried to calm him down, encourage him, or has generally responded maturely to the onslaught of rudeness. That player has shown responsibility and willingness to act serious and so the Tribunal user recommends him/her to be rewarded with a feature that would be unavailable to reported players – the option to pause a match once.
Positive players from Tribunal cases with a sufficient number of votes are reviewed by Riot staff. This both sifts through the majority of players who wouldn’t use the pause for its intended purpose and discourages attempts at trolling the vote system, i.e recommending a toxic player that just happened to not be reported. Upon approval, the player-in-review receives a notification on his landing page in the client that he/she can pause any match once. Let’s call this a pause charge. The number of pauses earned are displayed in the profile page, as shown below. To pause, you need to spend a pause charge. The game won’t take away the pauses you’ve earned, unless you are later punished by the Tribunal, in which cases you will either lose all your pause charges or be put on probation for a few weeks, if it’s a light offense.
A paused game can be unpaused by anyone at any time. This follows the model of, for example, DotA 2, where the system is merely a test of people’s willingness to respect a pause. That way it’s a harmless addition that could, at worse, be a mild annoyance, but never an abusable option where you pause a losing game and the winning team is unable to resume.
My proposal relies on a Tribunal that not only services as a glorified courtroom for problematic players, but rewards positive players for their exemplified attitude. You may remember an article I wrote on the option of voting for a Most Valuable Player earlier this year; I still believe the behavioral systems need to be focused on encouraging people to behave well, as it’s just an approach the majority relate to more than the fear of punishment.
As an abusable mechanic and a possible nuisance, I’d like to leave pausing in the hands of players who are most likely to use it as intended. If I were to, say, put a pause option in the menu for everyone to use, like in StarCraft, I’m potentially allowing 10 people to all interrupt a match, and they all might have a different mentality towards the feature. If I exclude those who leave games frequently, who use toxic language, who are easily frustrated and so on, I’m limiting the cases where a game would be paused for the sake of ruining other people’s fun, and not contributing to it.
Let’s say my proposed system has curated all toxic players from the list of potential receivers of in-game pauses; I’m still not sure the feature won’t be abused. Even though a permament pause option would encourage more people to behave like decent human beings in LoL, it would defeat the purpose of having pause be available only to those who’ve proven they will use it appropriately.
Since the Tribunal already offers cases of reported players to review, it makes sense to start hunting for positive players to reward there. That being said, I’d like the Tribunal to expand to where users can review honored players for additional rewards. This would be a separate function in the Tribunal and would again include the voting system and the reviewing by people working for Riot.
Pausing can be necessary for all manner of circumstances and if you waste your pause and the time wasn’t enough for the person to come back… well, that doesn’t sound fair, does it? Also, as mentioned above, having to wait for someone should be an open agreement between players and not a restrictive system.
I can’t give you any statistics here, so I’ll use past experience from competitive games where you’re allowed to pause. In my time of climbing through leagues in StarCraft, or practicing playing DotA 2, I’ve had, at worst, 1 or 2 cases of someone unpausing a match without the agreement of the person who issued the pause. You’d logically assume that very few people would respect a pause, since disrespecting it increases your odds of winning. In my opinion, it’s the psychology of unspoken sportsmanship that has made pausing such a useful feature, at least for me. I’ve seen players in DotA who are actively toxic in chat wait for a person on the enemy team to reconnect.
Once again, talking about this is fairly pointless, as I can’t guarantee it will be the case in League. My perspective is that the majority respect a fair match and will not go out of their way to play with unsatisfying odds on either side.
League isn’t a Michael Bay movie where there needs to be action constantly or the audience would just get up and leave- it’s a 5v5 strategic battle that needs people to coordinate. If you have one less person for that, you’re at a severe disadvantage, and that harms the player’s experience a lot more than having to sit through a pause.
I’m sure most readers of this article are familiar with the misfortune of dealing with circumstances that could be a solved by a simple pause. I believe a pause feature can be added to League in a way that enforces the teamplay environment and doesn’t just open another avenue for players to abuse the people they’re in a match with.
What are your thoughts? Do you even want pausing to be in LoL, and, if so, do you think my idea is realistic?
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.