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 Ph.D. 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% (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."