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@Lyte - Player Behavior, Matchmaking, and Life as a Scientist

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Lead Social Systems Designer

Follow RiotLyte on Twitter


Yes I've been feeling the full brunt of this effect the timer has as of late. I think I ended up laning as junglers multiple times simply because I couldn't think of what to be as first pick while the time was about to run out. But it's always after I lock in a jungler, the person later in the pick order complain about how THEY wanted to jungle, and refuses to play another role. In all these cases, they didn't say a word till 2 seconds after the timer was up. In all those cases I asked from the very start I asked if anyone wanted to be ___ role. No one says a word.

But I feel time limit isn't the only problem in this case. We have 40+ seconds to pick a champion, and nearly a minute of banning time to also discuss our roles whilst banning. In all of these cases, the people who ends up costing the team the game are the ones who do not say a single word until it's clearly too late. I feel there should be something to FORCE players to communicate with each other. If only to prevent these situations.

I don't know what you have cooked up, but if you can solve all those gamebreaking situation I've described above (including this piece of work (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=3853490&highlight=ap+garen)), then I sincerely look forward to it ASAP.

PS - if, and when you do finally implement whatever you have for Champion select, could you notify all players via an email? Some players might have chosen to avoid LoL simply because they were sick of situations like these, but planned on coming back if you fixed it. Others are on the edge.

PPS - On an unrelated note do you have statistics of AFK's and D/C's? Have there been a huge spike of leavers this week(Sept. 9-15)? I took note and in 7 games, I counted 4 of those seven games where my teammate left. 4 is not a huge number, but that is a significant chunk of games I play. Because I refuse to believe I'm just that unlucky. I specifically made sure all the past games that my enemies had all players intact too. So it's clearly not happening to everyone.

PPPS - increase that number of afk to 5 please. To show how little Tribunal acts as a deterrant, this person even dared us to report him before disconnecting. The reasons people have been leaving Ranked games have been increasingly petty as well. From not getting blue buff to having less kills than enemy team.

I agree with many of your points, and in the solutions we were brainstorming, a lot of it wasn't necessarily forcing players to communicate verbally, but to give them ways to communicate their expectations even if it was through indirect ways such as the UI. Sending out an e-mail to players who haven't checked out League in awhile is a great idea, I'll work with our communication teams to see what we can do there.

I'll check data on AFKs/DCs tomorrow at the office, but I haven't been flagged of any outliers or deviations too far from the norms--could be super unlucky streaks, or could be some ISP/hardware issues.

I've been working on a post regarding an update to Champion Select, so I hope to get that out and spend some time answering questions soon.

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Lead Social Systems Designer

Follow RiotLyte on Twitter


Can you reveal what the ratio of reports is in losing games vs winning games? Every so often I will get a player who's been reported more often in winning games because he will trashtalk the losing team, but the more likely case is someone raging when their team lost. Similarly, I'm sure that winning teams give more honour than losing games, since I've fallen prey to that as well. Can you reveal the exact numbers in each case?

In the next update to Champion Select, I'll be talking about some of this type of data. Contrary to popular belief, it's not as simple as winning = less reports and losing = more reports. I'll be talking a bit about Honors in these scenarios too.

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A player recently mentioned this idea to me, and I thought it was pretty interesting; however, what is the intended goal of such a feature? Theoretically, the hope is that if a toxic player is verbally abusive or harassing someone that the pop-up or feedback that others in the game have muted them would curb or stem the behavior; however, is there a chance that the pop-up or feedback itself would frustrate and piss the player off even more? Maybe the player will vent even harder at other players that haven't muted him yet.

Consider the current alternative: Right now, players can mute someone without sending them a pop-up or notification. A toxic player might continue venting or ranting and realize that they aren't getting a response, so they stop and move on--there's a chance they may learn that venting or ranting really doesn't do anything valuable for the team. But if you give them feedback and notification that they are getting through and annoying someone, maybe the pop-up or feedback even encourages them to keep acting this way and treat the pop-up as a "victory" of sorts that they irritated someone so much they actually muted them.

Now consider an alternative scenario: What if you're a positive player, trying to hold your team together with some sportsmanlike chat. Then this player gets a pop-up from a toxic player saying that they muted him--what does that player experience feel like?

Interesting idea, but lots to consider.

What if Kinperor's idea didn't trigger until after the game, with a total count of how many muted him? One option is to tie it into the Reform Card system or mimic it.

This would give them the negative feedback without the risk of backlash of an in-game notification. The more notifications the person gets, the more likely they are to finally question they may need to adjust their attitude. And if they truly DGAF, well:
a-nothing's likely to get worse, and
b-they could eventually be notified they're approaching an Implied Toxicity Threshold (a hypothetical new system) and X Y Z can/will happen (e.g., their previous or next games' chat logs will be sent to Tribunal--although if you sent previous AND next games chat logs, that'd give them a chance and incentive to show they can improve their behavior thanks to the stick behind them and the carrot before them).

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You're right, there are bans for report-abusers; however, how many negative behaviors have we created in players? After this feature goes live, some percentage of players will now abuse the report system to try to get some returns and end up being banned. Is this a new demographic that wouldn't have been banned otherwise, or were they toxic in some other way to begin with? If it's a brand new demographic that is now being banned, that's a significant cost to the feature.

Because the feedback loop of the system would be slow, the benefit isn't that clear. Would a player really be less likely to lose their cool in follow-up games? After all, the player has no idea whether reporting the toxic player in the current game will result in some alleviation of the loss in the future. What if the player reports 10 players and genuinely feels he deserves to be compensated for their actions, and only receives notifications for 4 of them? Would that itself cause frustration?

We're definitely trying to figure it out. Part of our shift in focus is on the neutral and positive players, and mitigating and preventing the frustration they feel when they do experience a toxic situation.

We're working hard on Champion Select because of the exact issues you are mentioning. There's several factors about Champion Select that are less than ideal right now, including having players in the same game who have different expectations (play to win versus play for fun). You also have time pressure making the Champion Select situation quite hostile as players try to discuss team strategy while a looming count-down timer is ticking. We can't wait to talk to players about our plans for Champion Select; to be honest, the entire player behavior team is excited because they want to use it and play with it in game.

We've known for a long time now that we want to notify players about the effectiveness of their reports (and to thank players for using the report system correctly to improve the community); however, it's just an issue of pragmatism for us. It's a feature we'd love to do one day, but it doesn't surpass the priority of something like Champion Select.

Here're two humble proposals for reducing some of the problems above:

1. In Profiles, enable us to mark our preference for various positions 1st, 2nd... 5th, or Fill.

-5x5 grid of toggle boxes (with auto-greying of the column and row once a box is checked) or a drop-down menu (when you make a pick it disappears from the other drop-downs)

-Use this in Matchmaking to ideally throw people together who have the most compatible role preferences (100% compatibility = 5 people each with a different 1st preferred role and/or fill)

-Require everyone to set these preferences before they can play Ranked

-One concern: the Fill box might more easily enable trolling than if it doesn't exist

-Make clear that no one will be locked into the roles they designated, it's just to reduce the frequency, likelihood and intensity of conflicts

2. Profiles, new tab, "Playing Style".
Option 1: "I play for fun. Winning isn't everything."
Option 2: "I play to win. I'm competitive."

-Default setting = Option 1.

-Philosophy: people who are competitive rage more than non-competitive players when they lose. Some play Ranked without winning being a priority (for various reasons good, neutral and bad). Keeping them from crossing paths, esp. in Ranked, avoids a huge common cause for friction.

-Option 1 folk either cannot play Ranked, or they must click a pop-up confirming their choice and acknowledging that they get the difference and the point (perhaps mentioning how 4 other people can be negatively affected by losing if anyone isn't fully prepared and trying. This could evolve further.)

Wow, up 2-3 hours later than normal... hope the above was coherent and worthwhile, I can't judge or edit in this state!

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the Anarchit3cht

Senior Member


Pretty simple. Why is LoL so toxic? 8/10 games I get a troll or rager. That means that on average, only 20% of my games are "enjoyable" based off the idea not being verbally abused while playing. That is honestly pathetic. I have never played a game that tolerates so much toxicity as League does--they got rid of the trolls, AND they didn't brag about their "Tribunal" systems or anything like that which are honestly just a very garbage, reactive way of handling the situation.. They just did their ****in' job and got rid of the PoS who aren't contributing to their game. The Player Behavior Initiative needs to be a pro-active system that focuses on positive reinforcement, rather than negative punishment. It's been proven that the latter does not work anywhere NEAR as well as the former does. Punishing someone doesn't really do ANYTHING when they can just make a new account. Don't discourage people from being toxic--encourage them to be exemplary of LoL players SHOULD act. Tired of playing games where they are just like, "ROFL go ahead report me I have two other accounts anyway"

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Junior Member


Hello Dr. Lyte,

Just finished watching your GDC 2013 lecture, very excellent, and very exciting for the future of online gaming. I wish you the best of luck. There are two issues I'd like to know if you've addressed or not. If you have, sorry for repeating. You and the team have many volumes of material in the forums, it would be nice to have a blog, wiki, etc. listing issues/questions addressed in a concise way!

In my games across both normal and ranked, from bronze to silver, I feel like the top two categories that players express their negative attitudes are 1. "illusory superiority," and losing perspective that LoL is, in the end, 2. just a game.

1. I'm sure you've been thinking of ways to deal with illusory superiority for some time now, considering the massive amount of players complaining/raging that the main frustration of LoL lies in the teammates who do poorly, how others are dragging them down, being paired with noobs, being stuck in ELO hell, and basically placing the blame and anger on anyone but themselves, because they are better than everyone else (in their minds). So, my question to you: Have you and your team thought of ways/experimented with creating a culture or providing incentives where players focus on improving their own skills every game, and being satisfied with a good personal performance even in a losing game? This is what I strive to do, and I usually have fun even in a losing game (although I'm not perfect). The honor initiative promotes good behavior in general, but not specifically self-criticism even when losing.

2. I remember you quoted a recent statistic that basically stated that the gaming experience in most non-ranked modes was better than in ranked games (in terms of toxicity, etc.). I'm almost certain this is because the fact that LoL is a game is more blurred in ranked games than normals, and the incentive in ranked is not to play well but to win. I'm still amazed at the responses I get and minds blown when I mention that LoL is a game.

Them: "No, this is ranked."
Me: "Actually, ranked games are still games."
Them: "Then, NFL and NBA are just games."
Me: "Yes, they are games about moving a ball from one place to another."
Them: "(Most grievous insults you can imagine)."

This mentality is so widespread and so ingrained, I'm sure stating that LoL ranked is a game will infuriate people reading this post at this very moment. It's not my intention to deeply offend NFL fans, I'm not trying to troll, I find games and sports of many types are fun and enjoyable. But they are still just games, life is full of many things greatly more important (It's kind of crazy that I even have to mention that to people, even crazier if I have to list examples). But it undeniable fact, unless you are challenger or approaching it (only the top ~5% of the player base that most people will never interact with), the vast majority of people playing ranked will never experience significant financial gain from playing LoL, and thus it is just a nice pastime.

I love LoL quite a bit, but I think if a player views it more than entertainment, if they view it as an extension of their self-worth or ego or esteem or honor, if they rage and say hateful things and pound keyboards because they lose at a game, well, I think that's kind of sad. Sometimes, I don't even know what people think LoL is to them, considering how personally offensible they take poor performance (from others of course). Before too many gaskets are blown, I will say that I do think that ranked should have a more competitive feel, and people shouldn't use "it's just a game" to excuse trying a first-time champ on ranked and the like (although you can't stop people from doing that, and I only saw that in low bronze anyway).

Of course, to you Dr. Lyte, I know LoL is more than game, it's how you make your living, and it is an amazing scientific experiment with one of the best data sets of all time (for this category of science). This is not the truth for the most of us.

Anyway, with that preamble out of the way, I feel like the reason why ranked games can be more toxic is that for many people the incentive is to win, not necessarily to play well (although playing well obviously helps, it doesn't always mean winning or even satisfaction to some). This is related to some points in 1. I know the greatest frustrations I had was right before reaching silver, it was hard to say I was having fun at that point, I just wanted those wins to get the season rewards, and I'm sure to some people the wins stop being enjoyable as they feel entitled to them, or that winning is the bare minimum expectation! Would my grades be better, or would my job skills be better, or would my relationships be better if I had the silver rewards? No. Would my real life be better in any way if I got to silver? No. There was no good reason I should have taken getting to silver as quasi-seriously as I did. Many players take it much more seriously than I did, and cease having fun and become frustrated and toxic at the slightest mishaps.

So, my question to you: have you and your team worked with ways to remind players that LoL is a game to be enjoyed, and not to be taken TOO personally, or some other work around? It might be flattering to think that huge swaths of (relatively young) humanity playing your game elevate LoL to the level of their self-worth, but you would also have to admit it's a bit unhealthy, no? As a minor side note, when I was looking up posts about "ranked games are still just games" I found some posts in 2011 that were downvoted, but some more recent posts upvoted, which is heartening.

Thank you for your time reading this. I really enjoy reading your posts, and your activity in the community.

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Senior Member


Dear Lyte,

I don't know if this came up in this thread (it's rather big by now and I followed it roughly) but this is something that especially noticable within the ARAM queue.

When one side has the opportunity to end the game, instead of ending the game they taunting the enemy team and are waiting for the respawn timer.
I'm not sure why people do that (maybe I do: because they are happy to kill and to blame the enemy), but thaz behaviour is really disgusting.
The problem I have with this reporting are several things. First: As far as I know the tribunal doesn't feature "Emotes per minute" (especially non-dance emotes with sound) or similar stats.
Some people may think that this behaviour can lead to something like a "fun-wave" but I could encourage such a thing for a maximum duration of 10 seconds. After that it is only annoying and people are tending to mute each other without a bigger reason. This can probably lead to either toxic behaviour by the other teammates or a lack within team communication.
Secondly: This is a text-less issue. I think I'm not the only one who report such behaviour and everybody who participates in the tribunal cannot see if they really did that.

And something of the topic but still has something to do with behaviour within League of Legends and matchmaking. I really like to know how many ARAM matches are dodged because somebody didn't want a specific champion and how many games last more than 30 minutes.
The playerbase nowadays have mostly several accounts to play with. However for ARAM this concept is highly abused. The player don't want to play with a certain account; they want to play a certain champion within the concept of random.
Thus is it reasonable to punish dodging ARAM player harder in order to maintain a certain flow within the matchmaking? A queue ban of 15 minutes doesn't really fit for ARAM because most of the games last more than this period. The players can easily swap through their accounts. I know there was a suggestion of a short IP queue ban but it was overruled by certain laws and such things, I guess. This leaving the question: Is it reasonable to increase the duration of an ARAM queue ban to several hours or other punishments?
I know that punishment of longer durations can harm the sheer amount of players in a certain queue, but it would support the playerbase with enjoys ARAM for being random. Another option would be the ADAM queue (not ABAM because everybody would pick the good champions first, which would cause players to leave if they can't rush a certain champion). But the ADAM queue would sever the low amount of players who want to play ARAM to two seperate queues.

Hope this can lead to something.


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Junior Member


is this the place for this?

So just a thought: I've had a disproportionately high set of games with people who leave. Is there a set of criteria that makes someone more likely to do so? Is it remotely predictable?

If it is, could it be a matchmaking tool? I mean, if there's an extremely negative player on my team I'm more likely to lose, and that sucks for me, but if there's a negative player on both teams, doesn't that level the playing field a bit? Same with people who are likely to leave.

I know its similar to the prisoners Island idea, and I've seen why that's a bad idea, but It sucks when I get an unlucky draw, and even when the other team does. Wouldn't it make sense to be unlucky at the same time?

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Dr Lyte-

This was a fascinating video for me to watch. I apologize if you've answered this elsewhere (if so, I couldn't find it), but will the findings from this effort be presented in any kind of peer-reviewed journal? I think some very solid conclusions could be drawn from your data points, and I agree with the statement in the video that would be of value to social and neuroscience efforts.

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Senior Member


Hello Lyte,

I'm currently silver 2.

Yesterday I had an unpleasant matchmaking experience where our team of 3 low golds and 2 high silvers was placed against 3 mid golds, 1 plat 5 and a silver 1. The plat player was not in duo queue (I was neither). We got slaughtered. After the match the plat player told me that he fell from plat 2 because he went on tilt all the way to p5. So I, as a silver 2 was playing against a (once) plat 2.

Now I understand that matching is based on MMR and the player is compensated by getting higher LP gains. However, I and another player had our promo matches, meaning that we would not get any better lp gains. This is a big flaw that I hope will be fixed in S4. When I go through promotion matches to Silver 1 I would expect to prove that I can win against (around) silver 1 players to justify my placement. The unfair part is that if I lose, then I am a mere silver 2 player, if they lose they are still golds and plats.

There should be an exception to promo matches because currently the player is straight out not rewarded for playing above his division that he tries to get out from.

Another issue I have is about professional ethics as a scientist. In your video you explained the reasons for tips and colors. From your data you show that those tips affect player gameplay, especially the negative examples. So if I or one of my teammates gets a negatively affecting tip at the beginning he will not perform to the best of his abilities and flame teammates for tiny mistakes. Currently all the stress of ranked has been concentrated on promotion matches (which might be less stressful over all), but that means all the tiny and seemingly insignificant tweaks get multiplied.

In summary (tldr), please take extra consideration for promo matches to make them fair and properly determine if player should move up a division.