How League Of Legends Is Using Your Brain To Stop You Being An Arsehole

How League Of Legends Is Using Your Brain To Stop You Being An Arsehole

There's a problem with jerk players in League of Legends, and in attempt to curb this Riot is doing more than just banning people. They're using hard science to get inside your head and make you a nicer human being.

In this great piece by science journalist Jeremy Hsu we get a look at some of the programs and techniques Riot is using to experiment on their userbase, and they're fascinating.

Working with Jeffrey "Lyte" Lin, a game designer with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience, Riot ran a program called the "Optimus Experiment", which changed the colour of text messages displayed to players. Having looked at 10 million matches, it found that (at least among Western players) a warning message sent in red was more effective than one displayed in white, while on the flipside, a message in blue about a good result would be more likely to result in positive behaviour.

Another experiment on hostile players found that by using a temporary punishment -- restricting their chat messages -- they could reduce the number of abuse reports filed against that player by around 20 per cent (and that's after their chat privileges had been restored, meaning they'd started learning their lesson). The same experiment also found that this approach was slightly more effective at "improving player behaviour" than bannings were.

Some of the other research programs Riot is running are a little more abstract; they're working with a UK university on seeing what relation a LoL player's name had to their personality, while an experiment with MIT is trying to build a type of AI that can study teamwork amongst strangers and then "predict performance on certain tasks."


Comments

    I hope they didn't invest much time or money into doing that research on player behaviour. It's basic psychology and has been known for decades. The research programs mentioned in the final paragraph sound more insightful, however.

    Last edited 28/01/15 2:57 pm

      Why? Considering the success they had, that's a bit like saying you hope Google doesn't use their income from us to build private projects like "google Fibre" and self driving cars. They can spend their money any way they want.

        I think you missed my point. Google Fibre and self-driving cars haven't existed for decades. It's also not a waste to spend money on those things even if they had existed for years. I'm talking about intangible knowledge. Research has already shown that red is more effective for warning messages and that knowledge has been implemented in countless ways for decades. Research on positive and negative reinforcement and punishment as well as conditioning has also already revealed what was found in this study.

        Edit: Of course they can spend their money any way they want. I'm merely pointing out that they could have saved themselves time and money by consulting existing research or any first year psych textbook.

        Last edited 28/01/15 3:49 pm

          bahh, Science is all about rigorous testing! The original studies could have had more of a correlation effect than a causation effect, if we just accept old science for what it is and don't retest this stuff, we'll be no different then any other holy book.

          I guess I see this as not surprising because Riot games have really been doing a lot of focusing on improving player behavior for the last few years or so, so this study didn't seem that left out of field to me.

            Agree totally. Nobody should take these things for granted and there's always value in seeing if the results can be replicated in different environments under different conditions. It's just that, from my perspective, these experiments are questioning knowledge that is as unquestionable as psychological experiments can possibly produce. But, I suppose they do need to go over it to be certain that it applies in the given population in the given environment.

            I think it's great that they're doing it and I will concede that the experiments were probably more detailed and nuanced than is revealed in this article or the article by Jeremy Hsu. I do applaud their efforts to improve player behaviour. When I played DOTA and during the early days of LoL, player behaviour almost caused me to stop playing several times.

              It's all good man, unless I wanted to sift through hours of thesis' and written content, maybe we could narrow down specific's on what happened, but let's face it we're just two randoms on the internet speculating.

          Ah but there's the "at least among western players". While research like this has been done in the past as you mentioned, has there been similar research among samples with a different cultural background and upbringing? League has a huge player base spanning the globe, and basic psychology based on western values may not be applicable to a large percentage of said player base. I can only imagine that more of such studies undertaken by riot with their access to a huge and varied player population be beneficial to adding to our knowledge.

    Now if we could only have this technique implemented in YouTube comments!

    League of Legends is by far the biggest joke of an experiment I've ever seen. Here's the reality: They're not trying to improve behavior, that's why the bans are usually 2-weeks right off the bat, or permanent. Since when does a permanent ban improve behavior? Right, it doesn't, because they're going to be gone forever, or they'll come back with a new account even more toxic just to piss people off. I'll tell you what Riot is really trying to do: Make more money. Anyone who disputes that is fooling themselves. The fact is, Riot is a sinking ship, and they need to appeal to their bulk real money paying players, which happens to be little kids with mommy's credit cards. So why are the "try hards" getting banned and not the provoking kiddos? Because the try hards don't spend money, simple as that, they try hard and try to earn everything via IP. The kids are the ones using their mommy's credit cards to buy Riot Points out the wazoo to get all the new skins.

    Think about it... what other company, in the entire world, has ever banned someone for simply 1) asking people to group up, 2) perceived sarcasm, or 3) telling the kids to stop being assholes? What we have here is a blatantly hypocritical system, fueled by ignorance and absurdity that results in the above examples, and worse, on a regular basis. You might ask yourself: Why would they ban people for those ridiculous reasons? The answer is simple: Money. The ones who are provoking others and trolling people into reacting are the ones who don't get banned, because they spend money, and a lot of it, while the "try hards" are the ones who react and get banned. It's a vicious cycle, and the Riot junkies that roam this and other comment sections will have you think that perhaps we should just take Kuvira's suggestion and just "surrender," we all know how that worked out huh Kuvira? We all know that what Riot is doing is wrong, but it's business to them. At some point, Riot will pay a heavy price for its corrupt practices.

    Speaking of corrupt practices, Riot has not released a single legally recognized QER, so for all we know, the numbers they claim could be completely fabricated for the sake of advertising. Notice how Valve releases QER, but Riot doesn't? Notice how Riot was quick to talk about their numbers unofficially, in an article, but they didn't respond with their own official, legally recognized QER? I think the evidence speaks for itself ladies and gentlemen, and the kiddos and fake fanboys are not going to sway the jury on this one.

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