Valve forms Overwatch for CS:GO community to police itself

By Alice O'Connor, May 24, 2013 6:45am PDT

As someone reading this on the Internet, you know that people on the Internet are often awful. Doubly so if they're playing a video game. To help weed out horrors, Valve is playing with a community self-policing scheme for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It sounds similar to the Tribunal in Riot's League of Legends, presenting players with "cases" of others who've been reported and asking them to make judgements.

Under the Overwatch scheme, CS: GO players can file reports against others they believe are cheating or griefing. People who are reported more than others will be flagged as "Suspects" and their case will go before a selection of "Investigators."

Investigators are people judged by Overwatch to be good community members, based upon how long they've played, how much they win, how often they're reported, and so on. When a case is brought against someone, it'll be presented to several Investigators through a button appearing in the game menu. There they can watch a short replay stripped of names and chat and judge if the Suspect is a 'Majorly Disruptive' cheater, 'Minorly Disruptive' griefer or whether there's 'Insufficient Evidence'. No, there's apparently no innocent verdict. No one on the Internet is innocent.

Suspects, or criminals as I'll call them at this point--perps, felons, ruffians, hoodlums--will suffer a ban if the verdict goes against them, which is weighted based upon Investigators' records. Ban duration is decided by naughty they've been judged as, and how often they're naughty.

It's all curiously Kafkaesque. The story will end when we realise we've judged ourselves guilty.

Overwatch is only in beta right now, so Valve will review and analyse cases before letting bans go through. It'll tweak the system over the time, selecting more Investigators and drawing more cases.

This being Valve, we'll doubtless see the Overwatch ideas rolled out to other games too. Dota 2 in particular could use it, as the current reporting system is a mysterious and baffling black box, where players yell reports into a void then sometimes are simply informed by a popup that an unspecified someone they once reported has been punished somehow.

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