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

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In an interview with Gamasutra (opens in new tab) , 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 (opens in new tab) . 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 (opens in new tab) for more on Riot's anti-jerk measures.

Tyler Wilde
Tyler Wilde

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.