Microsoft realises it can’t stop people being dicks. But it can protect everyone else from their insidious influence.
That’s the idea behind Xbox One’s Reputation system, which will monitor a player’s behaviour and the responses they evoke in others over time to form a Reputation profile.
As this develops, trolls and irritants will increasingly be matched with one another, leaving grown-ups and sensible folk with a more enjoyable environment in which to enjoy games.
"What we’re looking at doing is creating a very robust system around reputation and match-making," Microsoft’s senior product manager Mike Lavin told OXM.
"If people are in your friends list, we’re not touching that, we’re just making it easier for you to come together. It’s really the anonymous side of things where we’re making these investments. Ultimately if there’s a few per cent of our population that are causing the rest of the population to have a miserable time, we should be able to identify those folks.
There’ll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants. And you’ll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or, or harass other people en masse. You’ll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you."
Lavin also offered assurances that decent folk can’t be downed by groups of trolls massing together in an effort to lower their Reputation.
"There is no way at all that a conglomerate of people can conspire to sink your Reputation on the system,” he added. The way that it’s built fundamentally stops that.
It’s very much over a period of time – if we see consistently that people, for instance, don’t like playing with you, that you’re consistently blocked, that you’re the subject of enforcement actions because you’re sending naked pictures of yourself to people that don’t want naked pictures of you… Blatant things like that have the ability to quickly reduce your Reputation score."
Ultimately, the end goal is for Reputation to rank alongside Achievements on a player’s profile, although the final format and presentation of it has yet to be nailed down.
"Reputation is just like Achievements – you want your Reputation score as high as you can get it,” Lavin explained. There may even be opportunities where if you participate in some of our community programmes, your reputation can even get higher.
"It will be as fully visible as Gamerscore in your profile, so it’s taking an as-important role. The star system, I don’t know what it’ll look like. There’s actually different schools of thought on do we use stars, do we use numbers, do we use other symbols."