Blizzard is using computers to fight Overwatch’s toxicity problem

But it's also looking to encourage good behavior, too.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard takes fighting toxicity in Overwatch seriously. The Overwatch developer has even created a “strike team” designed to stomp out bad behavior in the game.

A ton of Overwatch players have been punished under the current system, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Bad behavior is still all too common in Overwatch, which is why Blizzard is searching for new methods to clean up the game. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan told Kotaku that it’s begun training computers to detect bad language.

Related: Toxic Overwatch players on YouTube beware: Blizzard is watching, and will punish you

“We’ve been experimenting with machine learning,” Kaplan told Kotaku. “We’ve been trying to teach our games what toxic language is, which is kinda fun. The thinking there is you don’t have to wait for a report to determine that something’s toxic. Our goal is to get it so you don’t have to wait for a report to happen.”

It sounds similar to an initiative Kaplan spoke about in late January that has Blizzard seeking out “incidents of very toxic behavior” on social media sites like YouTube. In practice, these two ideas are entirely different; the idea, however, is to keep toxicity off Overwatch by snipping it out before it hits the servers.

“With anything involving reporting and player punishments, you want to start with the most extreme cases and then find your way to ease up after that,” Kaplan added.

But aside from punishing bad players on Overwatch, Kaplan also told Kotaku that the company is looking to encourage good behavior—a “positive version of reporting.” Kaplan wants Overwatch players to think about being “better citizens” within the Overwatch ecosystem, rather than just focusing on the bad stuff in game.