What Your Gaming Name Reveals About Your Personality

People online often live behind a veil of anonymity – and video gamers are no exception. Hundreds of millions of people play online games every day and are known to others only by the short user name they choose for themselves. But recently it was discovered that those user names have a bit more to them then just a random assortment of words and numbers. They can, in fact, reveal a lot about a player’s personality.

Online video games are intriguing targets for psychologists: some of them – in particular tactical multiplayer games such as League of Legends (LoL), are dynamic, problem-solving environments that require vast amounts of tactical planning, experience and learning. In some respects, we can think of League of Legends and similar types of “multiplayer online battle arenas” as the 21st century’s version of chess.

A single game of LoL offers each player dozens of choices: which character to play (aggressive or defensive, “support” or “carry”), whether to act as a team player or play in a more individual style, whether to adopt “safe” or “risky” strategies with predictable or unpredictable payoffs, and whether to use the same tactics from game to game or branch out and try something new each time.

In our research, we teamed up with Riot Games (the makers of LoL), to look at the types of user names people were creating. We noticed that some players used highly antisocial words in their user names.

We will not sully your eyes with graphic examples, dear reader, but suffice it to say that they include vicious racial and sexual epithets that go far beyond the cheeky banter that you might expect from a typical young adult. “Who would call themselves that?” we asked ourselves – and the answer, we suspected, was someone who exhibited antisocial tendencies in real life.

In their user names, players also often include two or four digit numbers – which are commonly thought to refer to their year of birth. We checked this assumption (by comparing these dates to the ones provided in the registration information) and found that the two were highly, although not perfectly, correlated.

A League of Legends game in progress. Games typically last about half an hour and pit two teams of five players against each other. Teams compete to overtake the enemy base. Each player controls a single character with a unique combination of abilities.

So for some players, it seemed, we could penetrate the veil of the user name and extract two important measures: their “antisocial naming tendency” and their age. We figured that if people bring their real world attributes into the online world, it would also tell us something about how players behaved within the game.

Linking particular personality traits to game data would seem to be a hard task. Did that player retreat from a battle because they are risk averse or because they are a brilliant strategist? Did they collect more resources than their team mates because they have an obsessive, acquisitive nature or because the in game character they have chosen will perform best with a lot of “power-ups”?

To the rescue came a reporting system Riot Games embedded in LoL specifically to moderate antisocial behaviour.

These reports reflect the behaviour of players within the game. Players who act in an antisocial manner (for example, by deliberately “throwing” a game or swearing at others) will receive negative reports, while helpful, collaborative players will receive positive feedback.

Generally speaking, younger people tend to have weaker impulse control, poorer social skills and take offence more easily. We found that players who were young or who had antisocial user names would tend to receive and send more negative feedback. Meanwhile, older, more mature players, or those with inoffensive user names, would have relatively positive interactions with their teammates. So what does this research mean for gamers?

While identifying players who might require more attention or moderation may of course be a valuable step towards improving the quality of a game, the possibilities don’t stop there. With discussions of video games being used as a way of monitoring neurological diseases such as dementia or stroke in the future, the practical applications of this research could go well beyond gaming. It’s an exciting new world to explore.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Man playing computer game image from Shutterstock


    my gaming name is 'giveaphuk', safe to say i don't really care about much.

      Easy there, Jimmy Dean.
      There's only so many causes a rebel can be without.

    Mine is XxXLordOf3arthXxXLargeWilly

      Heyyyy.. something it's right about this tag.. almost as if it was made up... wait.. I know what it is!
      You're not a lord, dude!

        Wtf lmao, n00b! Lol.

    I'd like to think that I usually pick names that would fit into the reality of whatever I'm playing, but lately, thanks to the influence of the person i'm seeing, I'm starting to use the nickname "Lady Ramcock" or "Ramcoque" in everything....

      Nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean say no more

      My god - that's amazing.
      It's like a female Roger Ramjet... only saucier.

      Say no more, say no more!

    I gather this means that I'm an angry Scottish gunner in the military?

      Yes, and I'm actually emperor of a 3-star interstellar polity. (Refer: Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold.)

      The problem with using names to filter for antisocal users as the article suggests is that there isn't a 100% tie at any point. Digits are correlated with date of birth (but are not always date of birth). Antisocial users use antisocial names... but so, I'm sure, are some who behave quite well online.

      It's a bit like filtering for gender by height.

    This is one of the best things about Xbox Live.

    If a moron with an offensive username is behaving like a moron, I just report their username as offensive and then write that they were behaving poorly in the comment box, it’s a lot easier to prove than other forms of anti-social behaviour.

    I’ve only had to do it once or twice, but I’m glad it’s there.

    "What does mine say?"

      You're an anthropomorphic Mexican dish that can't spell Kooky correctly?

        I've been giving all the wrong signals this whole time :(

        you realise it more reads like this

        nounNORTH AMERICANinformaloffensive
        a foreigner, especially a person of SE Asian descent.

          It was a real surprise when one day a forum I was on implemented a swear filter, and then suddenly people who used my name were getting censored.

            imagine the racial definition came into play on that one.

              Total coincidence, honest.

                I believe you. I used to have a character called Hore in an MMO, which was my girlfriends surname - was only there for her to use, and was her typical character name.

                Didnt click how it read for ages, until a GM came along and changed the name without discussion. Ah well, the GF wasnt too happy, but she understood, and was secretly expecting it anyway.

                It just never registered with me, because the pronunciation was more like Horror. So I can see how you could miss it.

                  This mini scenario played out in my head as I read that:

                  "Your girlfriend's a Hore!"
                  "Why yes, she is! Fine lineage, that family."

                  Then I went to see if I could find a pronunciation key in case I was just being dumb and found this New Zealand footballer.

                  Andrew Keith Hore is a former New Zealand rugby union player. [...] His position was hooker.

                  14-year old me is having a field day with this.

                  Yeah, it sort of tells itself with Andrew Hore. Pretty sure she was related in some way, though its a surprisingly common islander surname. And more than one group pronounce it as the 14 year old wants it to be pronounced.

                  It just honestly never clicked with me. Was obvious later.


        @cffndncr, @mrtaco: Guys, you can stop shouting now. I found your car.



              Hail ZOLTAN!!

                AND TTTHHHHEEEENNNNNNNN?!?!?!


                  Last edited 10/03/16 1:17 pm


    Correlation isn't causation but I admit that people with names that have '420', '133tsp34k' or are bordered by 'xxx_' tend to be warning signs.

      This. All this.


        Nah, but for real I don't know why I put the l33t speak in my name. I like to think of myself as just another player...I'm not the kind of guy to rage quit, or send offensive messages. My mic is normally muted until someone mentions my gamertag, in which I respond in the same fashion (I remember being called a hacker faggot by some twelvie, to which my response was something along the lines of 'Oh no, I've been found out by someone who can't handle being beaten'...).

        But you're totally right. I know the guy named xXxsnypzz420xXx is going to be extremely vulgar and annoying and I should mute him asap.

          I think 1337 speak is the least of the issue - generally it's the others thats the worry. I know i've had to resort to 1337 speak a few times when my name has been taken...

            You mean 'chuloopa'?

            I though it was basically unique to you. Didn't you say in a past thread it was a name your ex gave you?

              I have the name almost everywhere - but for some reason it was taken on PSN.... the one thorn.
              Also some of my older names pre-chuloopa needed to use 1337. I htink back then my most common name was "Trozza" or something. So lame.

    Does this mean that the guy I met online named XxXPussySlayer420XxX doesn't actually kill cats at a very precise time of the day?

    Man, the Interwebs is weird.

    Most of my online names are SlothyPunk.

    Because I'm a punk rocker and Sloth is my nickname coz I'm generally lazy.

    Mine is actually short for Wisecracking Hacker.

    Hacker, the old school term for computing expert.

    Wisecracking, just look at what I do with @transientmind and @weresmurf. I'm not short on wisecracks, :-P

    Last edited 10/03/16 12:03 pm

      I thought it was an allusion to your penchant for reasoned debate.

        While apt, it has always been wisecracking.

        The 'hacker' part maybe frowned upon these days but I think I've researched and worked in IT long enough to wear that term with pride.

        Last edited 10/03/16 4:33 pm

    That I read way too much W40K in high school;


      You can never read too much 40k lore - there is no such thing

    I hate my PSN name Wiseone23Connor1 i really wish i could change it but nope.

      Dude.. I can only make the assumption that your name is also Connor. I have met plenty of other Connor's, but you're the first Connor, besides Connor (myself) I have met that spells Connor correctly. Congratulations other Connor-guy who spells Connor correctly!

      Unless it's all a ruse and your name is actually James. Then, die.

        My name is actually Sam however my son is Connor.

        My PSN is a weird combination of favourite numbers 1st born child the wiseone is a stupid play on Samwise which i got called for a little while. Yeah as you can see it clearly sucks and i wish i could have a do over but oh well.

          You know what? I'm a reasonable guy. I take back the whole 'die' thing purely because you named your first born so well and you were even bang on the proper spelling.
          Cheers to you.

    So mine, designated to me by the xbox gods is TopObject. Something drew me to it cause I thought it hilarious at the time. But now I wonder what it all means

    On Xbox I am "Ponyface" tried to find a gamertag that wasn't taken for about 30mins and a friend said just put in Ponyface & see what happens, now I am Ponyface.
    On PlayStation I am Feanorfire, I immediately regretted it, but too bad too sad I am stuck with it. So I created a second profile, and once again every name I could think of was taken... Eventually I just put in "whynodisplayname" and boom, that's my other name now. So my choices are less about my personality and more about trying to desperately find a name that isn't taken already.

      Boring story (I started with "funny story" then realised that wasn't true), when I first got a PSP (well before I got a PS3) I registered a PSN account but didn't really use it because the PSP was mostly my wife's, so she was the one signed into it and we kind of shared her account. I don't know if it even really used the PSN since we didn't have a PS3 to pair it with. Anyway I used my usual email address which is really long, and my usual username, kermitron.

      Later when I got a PS3 I forgot about my PSN account and tried to make an account using my usual email and username, but my email was too long and my username was taken. Since it didn't click that I was the one who'd taken my username, I switched to another email and my alternate username, kremitorn. I was annoyed, but since I didn't use my PS3 a lot, I didn't worry about it too much.

      A couple more years go by and around the time of the big PSN hack/outage it clicks that I DO have the kermitron username, but didn't realise it because I couldn't use my usual email address. I log into my account via the website and update my email address to a shorter one I can use to sign in on PSN and claim the account for my PS3... then never use it, because all my trophies and saves and DLC is linked to my alternate. I tell myself that if I ever get a PS4, I'll use my proper username.

      Last week I got a PS4, and sure enough, remembered to use my normal username. So now my alternate lays dormant with a handful of trophies on a forgotten console. It's a little sad. If I could have changed my PSN ID I could have preserved my account by renaming them to juggle it around and have my usual name on my active account, but I can't.

      Last edited 10/03/16 12:50 pm

    Kermitron all day erry platform. Derived from my high school nickname, it's as much a part of my real identity as the name my parents gave me. I read a PC Gamer article in the 90s that warned against antisocial names and took their advice, preferring to use a pseudonym rather than a statement (though back then it was advice against calling yourself "Quake King" because you might look dumb if you suck, or it could paint a target on you - as opposed to modern advice which is directed more towards edgy folk who tend towards statements about their drug habits and the promiscuity of my mother).

    My mate created my name when I ran to the bathroom while first signing up to Playstation :(
    "smashboxgood" was angry with him at first but its grown on me.

    Mine is the name of a keep I got out of a series of fantasy novels. Awesome because it's not taken at 99% of things I sign up for, and it's also hilarious listening to people try and pronounce it on voice comms.

      what is it?

        Well I got it out of a book, so I'm not entirely sure. I usually pronounce it like 'ennefel', or 'innefel'. usually get 'nef' as a simpler version. As for origins, it came from


        Mauryl's keep is called Ynefel.

          i have a character in Lord of the Rings Online, called Serapharan - elvish version of Seraph (coz some prick used Seraph), which was the gamer name i used to use way back when i created the character i dont know how many years ago now. but people would shorten it to Sera, which sounds like Sarah, and im a 30 year old male, and it emasculates me :'(

    my Steam name is Karlos %80 to 90%
    Tits McGee the rest OR copying someone elses name exactly or an offensive derivative of it.

    im neither south american, or have boobs.

      I am neither Mexican nor south east Asian :P

    @chuloopa i didnt get to say


    EDIT: Nevermind, i edited my comment above so now it fits in nicely.

    Last edited 10/03/16 1:18 pm

    I always called myself Cannonfodder cause every time I left a spawn I died 10 seconds later while everyone else would run out and kill people who spammed them, after that sort of stuck, im much better at the games but like the name.

      Tis also the name of an awesome Amiga game back in the 90's, thus giving you prestige.

    Well mine is InsanityAwaits..... that or Raston

    Raston I took from Neverwinter Nights when it randomly generated the name Raston Fenseph and Insanity Awaits from a line in Red Dwarf where Rimmer gets his mind spliced with two super intelligent people and says Glory or Insanity Awaits

    Mine is Xenoun....I made it up when I was 12 or 13 (had this user for over 14 yrs now) and kept it because it's never taken when I create a new character. Used the user "Catalyst" before then but apparently that one is popular.

    What it means? Sounded catchy when I thought of it.

    Last edited 10/03/16 1:36 pm

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