I’m loving the “new” Polygon and an article from a few weeks ago is an example of why their game coverage is so enjoyable.

League of Legends (LoL) is a game that is classified as a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and is known to have a rather, um, rude community around it. As Polygon repots, LoL is using psychologists and neuroscientists to increase positivity in the community.

Earlier this year, Riot Games started assembling its player behavior team, bringing in PhDs in cognitive neuroscience, human factors psychology, and statistics to reduce toxic behavior online and increase sportsmanship in the League of Legends community.

The really cool thing about their approach is that they are already making a difference. They have changed the behaviour through a combination of small user experience modification to introducing entirely new game mechanics. The ability of mechanics to change how people interact is blatantly obvious in their approach.

“We want to show other companies and other games that it is possible to tackle player behavior and with certain systems and game design tools, we can shape players to be more positive.”

One of Riot’s experiments in curbing negative behavior was a simple one: turning off all-player chat as a default. Players had to opt-in to it. Prior to the experiment, Riot says that more than 80 percent of player chat was “extremely negative,” compared to 8.7 percent positive.

A week later, after turning off all-player chat as the default, many players still opted in, but behavior changed. According to Riot, negative chat saw a decrease by 32.7 percent. Positive chat went up, by 34.5 percent. A drop in offensive language and verbal abuse was also observed.

Via the Mary Sue.