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How Riot's Social Scientists Fight League of Legends Trolling 116

An anonymous reader writes "There's an interesting interview up today with Jeffrey Lin, lead designer of social systems for Riot, the game studio behind League of Legends. Lin has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. His recognition that most trolls are only trolls because they're having an off day has changed the way that Riot punishes players. 'In other words, you need a carrot and not a stick. Where a punishment would come across as harsh and out-of context, pointing out to players that they're letting their usually-high standards of conduct slide usually results in a change of attitude. Incentivising the good behaviour with an Honour stat which could be affected by conduct in any match also serves to reinforce that good behaviour.' As a result, Lin's seen a noticeable spike in the number of people saying 'GG' (good game) at the end of a match. It leaves you wondering: what if Activision approached Call of Duty griefers on Xbox Live the same way?"
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How Riot's Social Scientists Fight League of Legends Trolling

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  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:15PM (#46707883) Homepage Journal

    ... has done jack and squat.

    Whenever my friends are playing LoL while I'm on teamspeak, 95% of what they say has to do with either teammates or the opposition being complete tools intentionally.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      I look forward to your award winning paper on the subject.
      I"m sure a right up will appear in Neurologica any day now.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I would let my child go to 4chan before I let them play LoL, it is THE cesspool of the internet.
    • That's not the behavior they want to disincentivize anyway. They don't care if you talk shit about your teammates constantly when you're with friends. They care about you and your friends flaming those randoms ingame. If anything, talking to friends about it on TS itself is a way to prevent users from flaming/trolling, since it's an outlet for frustration that would otherwise be directed at the randoms.
      • I'm not talking about banter between friends, the friends I was speaking of were observing "randoms" exhibiting the behavior.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @06:19PM (#46708955)

      Earlier this year I downloaded LoL from their main page, and it installed Pando Media Player as part of the install.

      Pando then updated itself, and the update installed a nasty virus payload, including a browser hijacker. This is because Pando closed its doors at the end of last year, and its self-update has sense been hacked and now delivers malware.

      All they say on the forums is "just don't install Pando, it isn't actually required, and we plan to remove it someday."

      This is totally unacceptable, since they are distributing the virus now as part of their default install package.

      I am not at all impressed with their diligence.

    • by JMZero ( 449047 )

      Try playing 20 games of Heroes of Newerth, then 20 games of League. You'll feel the difference.

      I much prefer Heroes as a game - but in HoN it's routine that over the in game voice chat people will threaten to kill you because (for example) you missed denying a creep - and if you mute people, you lose any kind of coordination. In League, strangers have to type out their abuse - and if you get tired of it, you just mute them (because most "real" communication is done via pings anyway). But for the most par

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:19PM (#46707915)
    He noticed a spike in people saying GG and takes that as a general sign that the atmosphere is improving. Is it that, or are trolls tone basically unchanged, but they're just saying "GG" to get their honor stat back a little?
    • Could also be sarcastic. Eg:

      tool: gg
      tool: stupid shitheads can't play for shit!
      too: (leaves game)

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      It's A factor.
      Incentive awards works really well. see..every facebook game.

  • I've been playing LoL for about a year now, on and off, and while I can hardly claim to be playing at a high level (I think I was Bronze II last time I qualified in ranked play), my experience has largely been a positive one. Sure, there are occasional assholes, and I've even had to mute one or two people, but most games I play don't have any serious negative attitudes, blue-streak profanity, or other jerkiness.

    Personally, I always try to have a good attitude myself, since I know from experience that negati

  • by deathcloset ( 626704 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:31PM (#46708029) Journal
    I understand that some trolling is bullying: that's when it becomes griefing - but most trolling is just sarcastic fun. I have, on many occasions, made joking jest and played the role (with dripping socratic irony) of the troll to the great delight of myself and others.

    If somebody is truly upset, however, I would not, could not, continue to deride them. So that's where the fine line may be drawn.

    Those that would are to be called griefers, not trolls.

    Griefers are trolls intending harm. Trolls in my opinion and in my definition are merely out for Natalie Portman's hot grits - whatever those may be.
    • I'd call them griefers too and is why I quit. LOL is a unique beast. Your team needs to help or you lose. So some people put pressure on each other and don't let up. I quit that game because I'd be cursed at as the first thing people said to me and all I did was pick my character in pubs. Its a shame too because the game is pretty easy and fun. There's no such thing as LOL ladder anxiety compared to SC2 for me because SC2 makes you click maybe 20x as often to get the same amount of things done.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't know what a troll is.

    • If somebody is truly upset, however, I would not, could not, continue to deride them. So that's where the fine line may be drawn.

      Oh dear... then you missed the utter ecstatic joy of viciously trolling a moderator until he quit his job, while pissing off the whole community who praise him as one of the best ever.

      Err... wait... did I misssed the anonymous toggle ?

  • Kids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:47PM (#46708209) Homepage Journal

    It leaves you wondering: what if Activision approached Call of Duty griefers on Xbox Live the same way?

    No it doesn't, because in my experience, most console trolls/griefers aren't "people having an off day," they're foul-mouthed 14-year-olds with shitty excuses for parents.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I didn't RTFA but as someone who's played his fair share of League of Legends, there aren't nearly as many *trolls* in the game as people think. When I say troll, I mean someone who intentionally plays badly so that their team loses, OR is constantly harassing others for no apparent reason, with the sole intention of getting them riled up. Every so often, you will encounter one of these trolls, but it is a very rare occurrence (at least in the leagues/divisions I play in, it might be different in bronze).


  • Here's a pair of links to talks Lyte has given on their systems. It's really interesting stuff. At GDC [] and a classroom presentation [].
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @05:33PM (#46708599)

    Ensure that people need each other. If people can treat others like an expendable commodity, they will treat each other as such.

    You'll notice that there was virtually no griefing or trolling in old MMOs. Why? Because you didn't survive a day without the aid of anyone else. Ever tried to get anything accomplished alone in old school DAoC? Or, hell, EQ? You were dependent on the rest of the server to get your gear back in case you died in some godforsaken corner. So if Mr. Troll died somewhere and was crying for aid to get his oh so valuable loot back before it despawned for good, at best he was played a very sad song on the smallest violin on earth.

    Of course that's not a very troll friendly territory. If antisocial behaviour has consequences, being the asshole is only half as much fun. So if you want people to behave, there's no need for a honor badge system or putting little golden stickers into their textbooks. You simply need to let people sort it out. But of course, that's not what is wanted. Because trolls are not the game makers' problem, it's the players' problem.

    • by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

      Players should be able to hire Matt Dillon to protect them from Griefers.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      You'll notice that there was virtually no griefing or trolling in old MMOs. Why? Because you didn't survive a day without the aid of anyone else.

      Quite the opposite. EQ1 fostered such things as deliberately dropping trains on people you were pissed off at. Camping their corpses (in PVP) or training things to a corpse and Feign death / memwipe to leave them there in PVE. They'd also steal your kills, ninja your loot, pull the named after you cleared to him...

      People were absolute douchebags on a regular basis.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'll notice that there was virtually no griefing or trolling in old MMOs.

      Lord British and the Ultima Online community would beg to differ.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ensure that people need each other. If people can treat others like an expendable commodity, they will treat each other as such.

      You've clearly never played MOBA's like LoL/Dota.

      Trolling works so well in these games because everybody depends on everybody else. Its a 5v5 game, and if a single person trolls on your team, you are completely screwed. You aren't going to win. That makes trolling very powerful, and the trolls know it, which encourages them to troll all the harder.

      In many games where you don't need teammates so much, you can just stick the troll on mute and move on with their life. So the troll is just wasting his own t

      • Yes, but a troll can afford to piss off 4 people. It would be very different if HE, and in turn his experience, dependent on those 4 people. To give you an example, in a game I played it was virtually impossible to be a troll, simply because the "top floor" of players was rather limited in numbers and the people who organized the more interesting events were even fewer in numbers. If it became known that you're a nuisance, you were done for.

        It took care of troll pretty fucking quickly.

        • The consequences of their actions aren't there in these games. Free-to-play and reroll as many times as you like and a massive playerbase with only pros reaching the 'top floor.' The top floor of these games is like the Poker guys on ESPN, some do tournaments for a living and make significant amounts of money, so the guy playing 2-3 hours a day rarely has a shot (watch the Free-to-play documentary on Steam).

          HoN at its inception had a lot less trolling due to tracking, kickability, and the $20 accounts, bu

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ensure that people need each other. If people can treat others like an expendable commodity, they will treat each other as such.

      Hmm. By ensuring people need each other, you are making them all expendable commodities, beating them to the punch.

      I'm not sure I agree with that. You make it sound as if we just got all the Republicans and Democrats and Terrorists (but I digress) and threw them in the same room together with some 6-year olds (again, digressing) they would just get along.

      I would almost say the better solution is threaten people that if they don't get along, they will have to hang out together. That would seemingly be more e

    • You'll notice that there was virtually no griefing or trolling in old MMOs.

      I call bullshit.

      From 2001 till 2004 I played the oldest of the popular online MMOs; Ultima Online. Trolling occurred through excessive player killing, disruption of guild activities and dungeoneering plus people doing some honest mining. It was characteristic celebrated amongst perpetrators and adrenaline junkies but reviled amongst those wanting a less combative, PvE experience.

      It was already on the decrease when I joined up thanks to the introduction of a non-combat realm. Nowadays a few thousand people y

    • by fa2k ( 881632 )

      Ensure that people need each other. If people can treat others like an expendable commodity, they will treat each other as such.

      Works both ways. In games like LoL players really need each other. It's 5v5 PvP, frequently with random people. That can mean a lot of more and less justified grief between the teammates. However, if it wasn't as easy for a player to screw it up for the team, maybe it wouldn't be as fun...

      • by fa2k ( 881632 )

        By the way, I assumed they were using trolling in the new, incorrect sense of being a mean asshole (in the chat, etc). Not really clear from the article what they actually mean by trolling

  • In theory one might seem like trolls are all the same. Whoever thinks like this has never been in a LOL champion select. There's nothing like the community behavior in this game - every single action (or inaction) is an excuse to offend you, your family, your religion, your skin and your country. People will start grieving at minute minus 2 for the right to a strategic position, which is based on first calling in written chat (think 2+ guys with 100ms latency chatting the same position at once), they will c

  • by Anonymous Coward

    when i can have much for fun trolling your ass?

    I still long for the original Deus Ex multiplayer days. Starting all together in one room... And I'm armed with a flamethrower hahahahaha

  • Ban any account that does it on the first action. It's not like they don't have server and chat logs to look into this kind of thing, so verification would be pretty trivial. And for those who falsely accuse people of trolling and griefing, well that would get tracked as well. Banned.

    It wouldn't take long for people to either change their behavior or move to another game. But that second option is exactly the reason why companies don't really want to fix the problem.

    • Account bans are not going to be as effective as you claim in a free-to-play game.

      It may help somewhat, but the trolls can trivially create a new account or 10 whenever they feel like being an asshole. And they'd get away with it, because they've already had their fun by the time Riot/etc. review the complaint and ban their worthless account.

      • You underestimate the money people put into this "Free to Play" game. Not to mention the tracking of stats and achievements and other stuff.

  • GG, faggot.

  • I tired playing LOL for a while. I liked the game, but I couldn't stand the community. Every game I played featured someone who was crying that someone else took thier character or someone didn't know how to play. Anyone who thinks this is just players having an "off day" is delusional.
  • Gee, I haven't said that since Pong...

  • Seriously, he's determining the amount of trolling going on by the number of people saying GG at the end of games? The biggest trolls I've faced have said "gg", that's half the schtick. They say "gg" just to rub in the fact that they're assholes. How about you start by killing the taunt/laugh/talking shit after the first 30 seconds of the game? The trolls have simply evolved, they now know all they have to do is talk trash in the post-game lobby, and spam everyone with annoying taunting/laughing all gam

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