League of Legends

Riot employs a neuroscientist to address "players being jerks" in League of Legends

Tyler Wilde at

In an interview with Gamasutra, League of Legends lead producer Travis George acknowledged that trash talking is natural in competitive games, but that some LoL players take it too far, "being mean for the sake of being mean." To address the problem of mean-spirited players, Riot has put together the "Player Behavior and Justice Team" (or, the much cuter "PB&J team"), which includes two doctors, one of cognitive neuroscience and one of behavioral psychology.

Simply put, Riot doesn't like "players being jerks in games," said George, and it already penalizes those jerks through League of Legends' Tribunal system. The “severe and consistent” harassment from pro player IWillDominate, for example, recently earned him a permanent ban. The PB&J team, however, is interested in more than establishing negative consequences for bad behavior: Riot wants to understand the "root problems" and improve the experience by "incentivizing positive behavior."

"We've experienced it all ourselves," said Geroge. "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.'"

So, if you've been hesitant to join League of Legends for fear of being berated by an anger management dropout, at least you know Riot is taking the "worldwide problem" seriously enough to employ researchers of the highest qualifications.

"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."

Read the full interview on Gamasutra for more on Riot's anti-jerk measures.