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Player Dynamics Design: Looking Behind the Curtain

    It’s not a secret to those who gather on the internet, be it games social media, gaming or any of the numerous virtual gathering places there are people who aren’t always friendly to one another. Even though the majority of people aren’t cruel to one another just one or two disruptive players to create a hostile atmosphere for all of us.

    Everyone wants to see this change. We do too. We are trying to improve our games more secure, more inclusive and, at the final point, enjoyable for all. There’s no shortage of challenges associated from this endeavor and there aren’t quick solutions.

    While our teams are taking action on reports and confirmed disruptive behavior we’re also seeking longer solution in the long run. This is the point where Player Dynamics design comes in. The aim for Player Dynamics as a design discipline is to develop structures for gaming that create enjoyable social interactions and avoid negative interactions immediately. In simple terms it is designed to answer the following question “How can we create and maintain healthy online communities?”

    This article will give information on the way Player Dynamics design has evolved since last time we discussed it, and also since the concept was officially launched during GDC at the end of 2020. We want to take a look at the internal tools we employ for introducing Rioters to the art of design and the way we attempt to implement Player Dynamics thinking across all our activities.

    This is the first part of a two-part series which introduces the concept of Player Dynamics design and how it affects your gaming experience. This is a topic that’s important that we do not ignore, that’s why we’re committed to removing the curtain and demonstrating how we are striving to improve player dynamics.

    What exactly is Player Dynamics Design?

    Here’s the way we’ve described Player Dynamics internally for the past few years:

    In the words of Marc Merrill, one of Riot’s cofounders, recently described his view, Player Dynamics is a “modern method” to creating online games and social networks. Our primary objective is to deliver on the potential of our games and make the players’ social experiences to be enjoyable through the design of. The goal of tackling disruptive behavior isn’t really the purpose of Player Dynamics It’s just an element of the game.

    However, we are aware how disruptive behaviour is of huge issue, so let’s talk about two theories from social sciences that have been proven useful in helping Rioters comprehend the way Player Dynamics designers think.

    The concept of the first is summarized by reading the text Prosocial:

    “One one of the most reliable findings from psychological research is that we are prone to believe that bad behavior from others is due as a result of personal motivation, when actually, it’s because of the context.”

    The other related concept is the Lewin’s Behavior Equation:

     

    In essence, what appears to be intentional is typically a result of a situation or to alter behavior, or change the surrounding.

    This should give a boost to game designers since we hold an enormous role to play in defining game conditions and settings. Designers have more power than they realize initially in order to avoid social friction that can manifest as disruptive behaviour. The goal of making Player Dynamics into a design discipline is to show designers how to prevent social friction.

    Let me be transparent, we realize that we cannot control any disruptive behavior. We also realize that there are times when players have been deliberately damaging. These kinds of behavior are not acceptable. According to our opinion any person who repeatedly causes harm is removing themselves from the game.

    What we can do in the meantime, and there’s a ton of research backing this assertion, is to reduce the risk of disruption, increase chances of having more enjoyable experiences and develop resilience within communities and players.

    The Foundations of Player Dynamics

    In many ways, we’re trying to translate around 150 years worth of sciences into features and solutions for gaming and the ecosystems they create in order to provide better user experiences. The basis for Player Dynamics in the game industry go back a long time. We look at a variety of games, and we work to identify the milestones of this field:

    Certain, for sure are revolutionary as multiplayer games of their own. We consider some of them to be outstanding Player Dynamics pioneers. Habitat (1985) is certainly one of the first companies to be actively dealing problems with behavior. And this was back in the days when people paid by the minute to access the Internet!

    Riot joined playing the Player Dynamics game in 2012 along with players from the Player Behavior team. We discovered a lot regarding how we can take different approaches when we begin a game from the beginning. We officially began creating Player Dynamics as a sub-discipline of design in the year 2018 and we announced it in 2020.

    Player Dynamics shares many of the same abilities like games design as well as UX However, it requires a few skills that these disciplines do not typically require:

    Player Dynamics gets its name from the long-standing field of social dynamics. Although some companies call this “social design” we prefer focusing the word “player” and avoid the myth that this is just about chat.

    State of Player Dynamics Design

    And where are we at the moment?

    Player Dynamics work is now being conducted in a variety of areas in the business. From the earliest stages (such Project L) Project L), to special teams for live products (League, VAL, Wild Rift) and on and on to Central Player Dynamics and new fan-centered initiatives on the Platform as well as our ever-growing community of practices.

    We’re structured more or less in a hub and spoke, with our central group of SMEs working on the Platform working with teams from different regions of Riot. Each is working on different issues at various levels of development. Each of them will talk about the services and features they’re creating when they’re finished.

    When it comes to phases of growth, this is a look at how we’ve been demonstrating Players Dynamics in the lifecycle of an game:

    In prototyping, preproduction, as well as production Player Dynamics work can encompass anything from mechanics of games, to level design and even narrative. As the development moves closer to going being live, the further discussion shifts towards metagames or communication platforms. The most disruptive behavior is likely to occur when there are players who are playing, which is why risks registers and mitigations become the hot issues as we get closer to Alpha. After launching, the modifications tend to be more subtil or are added into or on top of existing systems.

    In the present we have designers focused on the various areas mentioned above, as well as Platform that looks at the entire social ecosystem. Certain of them specialize in Player Dynamics design work and some are referred to as “Player Dynamics Designer.” In addition, these people design features and services, consult with several teams; and design tools, frameworks and educational tools.

    These resources are beneficial in the development of Player Dynamics thinking and we hope that every Rioter is equipped with the necessary Player Dynamics tools and knowledge to make informed social dynamics choices, regardless of their position.

    We’d like to see you prepared, too.

    By uttering a few words Anyone can apply Player Dynamics-based thinking in their work and lives: become multi-minded. The next article will explore how to use the terminology Player Dynamics designers use and how it can guide us to better social spaces.