For Josh Isom, community manger for Nival's MOBA game Prime World
, creating rules for players, passing them down and enforcing them from a throne wasn't the best way to foster a good community for a player-centric online game.
That's why he spearheaded Prime World
's "Noble's Pact,"
a short list of rules and guidelines that was voted on by the players, for the players.
The impetus behind the move was rather patriotic. "I was inspired by America's founding fathers and the creation of the Constitution," says Isom. "I love the idea that a community of people could come together and establish their own rules and policies.
The rules the community voted for are straightforward, and in reality should
be expected from any online community: "Do Not Abuse Other Players," "Fight Honorably," "Follow the Player Behavior Policy."
But what drives such basic rules home is the fact that players were involved in choosing them. Isom said players are more cognizant of the game's rules, as they were involved in establishing them within the bounds of an agreed-upon system. "[In other games,] players generally do not have a say in the rule creation process, and they might be more unwilling to follow them because of that," he said.
The goal to create a welcoming community in Prime World
has been a deliberate one. The MOBA genre has built up a reputation for serving a player base that is uninviting, unwelcoming and harsh, particularly to new players. For instance, leading MOBA developer Riot has dedicated a lot of thought to trying to solve toxicity
in player interactions.
Here's how the process worked for Nival: Earlier this month, Isom presented the idea of the Noble's Pact to players, deeming it a chance for everyone to decide the shape of Prime World
as a friendly, open and supportive MOBA community.
The Prime World
community proposed rules in the game's forums, and as a community, they shaped the wording and purpose of those rules. Every rule went to a vote, either becoming a rule enforceable by the game's support team, or a non-punishable guideline that players agreed to adhere to, or not included in the pact at all. (Nival reserved the right to deny rules that would go against the goal of a friendly community, so trolling was kept to a minimum.)
Being inclusive has been one of the ideas at the forefront of Prime World
's community strategy. Last year, for example, the company said it would offer discounts
on microtransactions to girls and women, and give boys and men incentive to team up with them.
"Our number one goal with Prime World
is to foster a positive MOBA community," Isom said. "Judging from the results of our Noble's Pact voting, our players want the same thing. We believe that we have to work together with the community to achieve this goal. We’re also going to include systems that will help support this goal."
Isom and Prime World
aren't done with the Noble's Pact -- it is a living document that will be revisited in six months, and voted upon once again. "We want The Noble’s Pact to reflect the community in its current state, and we want all of our players, new and old, to have a voice."