December 12, 2021
Sony files a patent that could transform how PlayStation games track 'disruptive behavior' with a proactive automated system.
Sony in a recently published patent, which describes how the "management of disruptive players in video games is not currently done as well as possible." The patent goes on to describe a system to more aggressively recognize, process, and track "disruptive behavior" in multiplayer games. It's potentially a system that could be built into PlayStation games in the future.
The patent describes a complex automated system for multiplayer games. The system starts by identifying disruptive in-game events as they happen, or even predicting the potential for disruptive events in preparation for tracking them when they happen. Following a disruptive event, the system recognizes the responsible player and collects evidence of the event. It also generates real-time behavioral data, which is then displayed back to players within a match or game.
To make clear, this is an automated system that is running constantly. It's capable of tracking not only disruptive behavior and flagging it and reporting it, but also for tracking good behavior. In fact, the system even assigns a "Behavior Score" to players, which takes into account not only disruptive behavior reports, but also "Behavioral Marks" which can be assigned for positive interactions.
While it may seem like this system is simply designed to enable current moderation efforts to be more effective, allowing them to track disruptive players more actively, it's more than that. The system's demographic data can also be used for automated matchmaking, too, by calculating the potential for disruptive behavior based on the players in a match. By doing so, the matchmaking system could then potentially disperse disruptive players in a way that minimizes the possibility of disruptive events.
What makes the Sony patent stand out is that it acknowledges the failings of current efforts straight away. Current moderation efforts are resource-heavy, requiring large teams to parse through inefficiently collected data and evidence. These customer service agents and moderators aren't in-game when disruptive events occur. They rely on automated systems, or player reporting, to make decisions. The more robust the automated systems, the easier it is to deal with disruptive events and players.
Obviously, there's a deeper question worth asking here, too. While few PlayStation players, or any players for that matter, would disagree that more needs to be done to track and punish disruptive players, they may balk at the idea of Sony keeping account-based behavior scores for them. For the time being, this is just a patented idea from Sony. But it'll be interesting to see if this idea comes to fruition in PlayStation games in the future.