Neuroscience and Psychology could be the answer to LoL community woes
Riot Games has seen its MOBA League of Legends rise to the top of the e-sports universe, and with its brand of free-to-play, ease of entry, and gameplay style, the game has become a giant in the industry. The only thing that can match LoL‘s reputation as a great game, is its reputation for having one of the most negative and toxic communities around. This is a problem that the team at Riot have been actively addressing, and the recently introduced Honor System seems to have quelled a bit of the rage, but the big guns have now been called in, and a special team has been assembled to address community concerns.
In an interview with Gamasutra, lead producer Travis George talked about player behavior, and what Riot is doing to improve the community experience. In the article, George recognizes that there will always be a small amount of trash talk between players, but also acknowledges that, “There’s a line, and that line generally is people being mean for the sake of being mean — telling you what to do, telling you how bad you are. And I think we can actually fix a lot of that.”
So, what exactly is Riot doing to fix the problem? Putting together a crack-team of top, top men, of course. George refers to this team as the “PB&J team”, meaning Public Behavior and Justice team. The “PB&J” team consists of folks who specialize in analyzing and addressing the negative concerns in the player community, and members include a cognitive neuroscientist and a behavioral psychologist (translated: two really smart people). The team also consists of game designers, engineers, and production support personnel.
The goal of this team is to track and analyze player behavior, then use that information to help put systems into place to not only remove toxic players, but also encourage and reward positive behavior, letting tools like the Tribunal and Honor System work in harmony and balance to help build a more positive player community.
“And that’s where you’ve got guys who are PhD researchers who can help develop those models, and we have, actually, those models for how we track and trend what we call ‘player behavior,’” George says.
“You can apply really good research and science techniques to almost anything,” he says. “The trick is just finding what you want to actually spend the time on, and that’s where the sentiment for players comes in as a huge guiding factor to that.”
It is really encouraging to see a company take such a proactive approach to improving the community of their game, and with noticeable player behavior changes since the introduction of the Honor System, Riot seems to be on the right track to making League of Legends a much friendlier place to play.
You can read the full interview over on Gamasutra.