By T.C. Sottek , executive editor who has obsessed over headlines and internet speeds since 2011. He previously worked as an advocate for the National Park System.
After more than 2,000 hours in Dota 2, I’ve finally been sent to gamer jail for the first time. It’s worse than I ever imagined, which makes it an extremely effective deterrent in a competitive game where teamwork is essential. But now that I’ve been punished, I see that there’s a better way to administer multiplayer justice.
I had been proud of my perfect player conduct score since Valve introduced the rating system in 2019. (By the way, that’s a score of 10,000, and it comes with a reassuring green smiley face when you’re doing well.) The score is a loose measure of whether you’re an upstanding member of the player community. If you’re reported a lot by your teammates or abandon games before they’re finished, your score goes down. I think those are the right metrics to track, even though people routinely abuse the reporting feature for petty reasons.
So here’s why I’m in the Dota 2 cone of shame: I’ve “abandoned” several games over the past couple of weeks due to having a life. For various reasons, I’ve had more urgent phone calls to attend to than usual and other things that have demanded my attention in a way I can’t ignore. To be clear: I think it sucks when people leave team games prematurely and, in Dota, that includes going AFK for just a few minutes at a time. Even if you return to your keyboard and resume play, the jig is up: you’ll be officially assessed with game abandonment. I’m not proud of abandoning my teammates, even if we still ended up winning several of those games when I returned.