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Valve employee apologizes for banning a Dota 2 teammate after an in-game disagreement

A ban hammer in the wrong hands

Plenty of us have been in online matches for any number of games where we just don't see eye-to-eye with a teammate. If they're particularly thorny, you might report them and hope the system serves them their just desserts. The scales of justice aren't quite so balanced though when the other person has their finger on the ban button, which is what this Dota 2 player found out the hard way.

Dota 2 player "Minijuanjohndoe" posted on Reddit yesterday claiming that they'd bickered with a teammate over match tactics after repeatedly dying chasing what they believed was a lost cause. "He got tired of fighting with me and told me do you know who your talking to. Check my profile I'm a steam employee," Minijuanjohndoe explains.

After the match, Minijuanjohndoe says they were thrown into Dota 2's low priority matchmaking status, a temporary penalty for players who have exhibited poor conduct like abandoning multiple matches or being reported by other players for in-game behavior. "An account with a Low Priority penalty will be restricted to the Single Draft game mode for a specified number of games," says Valve's guidance. "Winning the specified number of games is the only way to remove the Low Priority penalty." A low priority player will also not receive item drops, achievement progress, or seasonal rewards.

Minijuanjohndoe says that they although they'd disagreed over strategy "I didn't say any bad things that would deem a report."

Sean Vanaman, Valve employee in question, responded to the story to confirm it and apologize.

"The team looked into this case, and concluded the user clearly did not deserve the ban. Even if the user did deserve a ban however, we all think it's clear that manually banning users is not a good idea because of how hard it is to be objective in Dota games that you are in. My mistake in this case being a sterling example. As employees, we should have no special privilege when playing Dota.

That has been the team's informal policy in the past, but it has clearly failed in this case. It won't remain informal going forward—manual bans like this won't be allowed anymore altogether. And sincere apologies to user u/minijuanjohndoe."

Vanaman is one of the co-founders of Campo Santo and was creative director on Firewatch. He's now an employee at Valve after they acquired Campo Santo in 2018.

I've reached out to Valve to find out how prevalent the use of manual bans in Dota 2 is and if this ability has indeed been revoked from employees and will update if I hear back.

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Lauren Morton