Riot hasn't let the issue lie, though. The Tribunal was a good first step toward building a better community, and if reports are to be believed, it does a fairly good job. However, simply punishing players doesn't encourage good behavior. That's where the latest effort, the Honor system, comes into play.
Honor allows players to give positive feedback to friendly or supportive players, either friend or foe. Gaining honor alerts a player of his or her good behavior, and Riot has hinted that it may be the basis of future rewards. Is it a good step in the right direction, or will it just encourage "honor trading?"
Most people don't report, so...
Although I don't know the exact figures, I have read that a majority of the people who play League of Legends don't use the report function after a game. I think I'm in the minority when I say I click the report button in the lion's share of my games. I don't report people to be mean. I report because I don't want to encourage caustic behavior, so I do everything I can to discourage it.
Honor will be much the same way, especially in the beginning. It's only been around for a week or so now, and the majority of people who grant honor are most likely farming it in premade teams. I don't think this will be a long-term problem, though. Riot has already stated that it intends to limit the benefits of honor when used in regular teams and encourage the use of honor to put strangers up on pedestals. I think that Riot will find that the only real way to keep people from abusing honor trading is to keep it from being granted by premade team members.
There is definitely a subset of people who do grant honor regularly, and that group of people is likely made up of the same players who vote regularly in the Tribunal or report abusive behavior in games. Also, because honor pops up prominently when someone gives it to you, it will likely spread through the nice, deserving people if honor trading can be curbed.
The official guidelines for granting honor suggest that a player should get it only if she goes above and beyond what is expected of her. I personally think think that this can be liberally interpreted. My expectations of my fellow players are fairly low, so "above and beyond" really means "not a jerk" to me.
Honoring someone for being helpful is probably the least likely category because of the Teamwork category. A helpful player is specifically described as someone who provides information that is helpful during a game. The problem with this category is it is easy for a person trying to be helpful to come across as a "know-it-all." I know this problem all too well and generally avoid giving too much advice in chat. It's easy to be interpreted as bossy when giving advice, so I stick to pings and very short, polite statements.
A friendly player is easy to spot, on the other hand. You can be the worst player in League history and be friendly. Unless one of my teammates is being a jerk, I generally try to be friendly in chat. Usually I'll make little jokes or wisecracks, often self-deprecating, in order to lighten the mood and put people at ease. It has the wonderful side effect of softening the rage if I make mistakes during the game, which can actually contribute positively toward our team's eventual success. I will give anyone honor if he is nice in chat, assuming that person doesn't do a face-heel turn if things go sour.
Teamwork is one of those categories that is a bit troublesome to determine, due to the nature of the game. LoL is a team game, and it is in everyone's best interests to help the team succeed. Is the split-pushing Master Yi being a selfish jerk or a team player? It's hard to say if he never talks. In Summoner's Rift, you should give honor to anyone who buys wards or an Oracle in the midgame. In the early game, wards are generally used to protect your own lane from a gank. However, once the midgame starts, wards are placed more as an overall team strategy, and buying a ward costs money that could be used to buy other items. Anyone who helps contribute to that burden is definitely a team player, in my opinion. Players who clearly feed kills to allies or spend lengthy cooldowns to save lives are probably also team playing, and feeding buffs (especially buffs stolen from the enemy jungle) to allies is also a bit above and beyond my normal expectations from a player.
The last honor category is "Honorable Opponent," and I have no clue what that even means. I suspect that it's used to mean an enemy with good sportsmanship, but I have absolutely no clue how an enemy player could exhibit good sportsmanship without also being friendly. Ultimately, it doesn't matter much what category a player fits in if he is deserving of honor, but I feel that the honorable opponent category is redundant with being friendly.
I try to give out honor every game, and I'm usually able to pick one person out who earned it. Occasionally I end up on the same side as a premade whose members don't speak English or an enemy team whose players don't talk in all-chat, but those are exceptions and not the rule. I think that we should be looking for excuses to grant honor, especially at these early stages. Encouraging any good behavior, especially the "friendly player" type, will go a long way toward getting others to use the system.
As always, a human spin on honorable play makes it feel more real. I was playing in a Dominion match as bottom-lane Yorick recently, and I was matched up against a Teemo. Yorick has some trouble against AD carries in the mid to late game, and I normally avoid playing bottom lane. Additionally, the enemy Teemo was quite good, and I struggled to maintain my early advantage.
I'll be up-front here, though, and admit that I just sucked. I really had no business losing this matchup, but I got wrecked badly. I know that I needed to play more timidly in lane than I was playing, but I got too aggressive over and over and paid for it every time.
However, every time I died (excepting the first time where I used Revive) in lane, someone on my team had my back. More often than not, it was our team's Olaf, who performed admirably, defending my turret when I made my huge blunders. In fact, Olaf came down more times to help than my premade partner, who spent his entire time fighting over the top turret.
Olaf wasn't the friendliest player in chat, and when our Teemo (yes, there was a Teemo on both sides) disconnected, he expressed a bit of frustration. However, he wasn't rude about it; he just said that it sucked to have Teemo DC when we were winning. I was nice (it's easy to be nice when you're getting owned) and encouraged him, saying, "We just have to hold on until he hopefully comes back." Sure enough, he did, and I lane switched to go top. We won by over 200 points.
It was really a no-brainer to give Olaf honor for good teamwork. He really paid attention to the game situation, and instead of aggressively trying to capture the enemy mid, he looked at where we were weak and helped out. Even in Dominion, where good teamwork isn't always clear-cut, he definitely got my vote.
If someone goes out of his way to help you out, make sure to give him credit! Encouraging good behavior helps make the League a better place to play.
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