Riot hires a neuroscientist to address bad player conduct in League of Legends
In light of the recent banning of Dignitas player IWillDominate, Riot has set up the “Player Behavior and Justice Team” or more adorably, the PB&J team, to address the problem of bad player conduct. The team includes two PhDs, one in cognitive neuroscience and the other in behavioral psychology.
League of Legends lead producer Travis George stated in an interview with Gamasutra that a “decent amount” of trash talking is acceptable “because that exists in every competitive event, sport, game ever.” However, “nobody wants to play with somebody who’s mean,” he adds. “There’s a line, and that line generally is telling 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.”
“We’ve experienced it all ourselves,” added George. “But then, we actually sat down and said, ‘How do we actually more tangibly understand how bad the impact is, or what the impact is, or understand the problem more?’ 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.’”
The PB&J team will be in charge of researching how to deliver a better experience for players.
“We’ve actually developed specific trends, and our own set of metrics that we look at for measuring what percentage of times we think that players will encounter a negative experience in a game, and how severe that negative experience is,” said George. “And then we have to build things or be responsive or message the community in a particular way to address those things.”
Riot does have the “Tribunal” which is responsible for scrutinizing players for bad conduct and dealing out punishments. However, instead of continuously dishing out penalties, George and the PB&J team’s goal is “incentivizing positive behavior, and thinking about why people are upset in those games. So, trying to fix those and address those root problems.”
“We think it’s a great addition to the team, and that team is actually cross-discipline, so it’s got the PhD guys, game designers, engineers, production support all working together from a variety of perspectives,” said George. “You’d be surprised how much the game design intermingles with the PhD research.”
In a perfect world, all players in a competitive game, not just LoL, will simply say “gg” instead of insulting your mother in every way possible. I guess only time will tell whether the PB&J team will be successful in their aim to make the LoL community a friendlier place. However, it is nice of Riot to address a problem that has plagued, not just the eSports community, but the whole competitive gaming community as a whole.