Developer Riot Games puts a lot of effort into reducing toxic behavior in League of Legends, whose 67 million monthly players have made it the most popular eSports game, but a recent survey asking players to take psychological self-evaluation tests is making some uneasy.
Earlier this week League of Legends players started reporting a different, three-step process by which they can create a new summoner name, in case Riot deemed their original name inappropriate. Players have to complete a survey, play 50 matches, then take another survey that can take up to a week to be sent.
A week after they meet all the requirements, players may change their name to something appropriate and of their choosing. Previously, If Riot found a reported name inappropriate, players got a temporary name until they picked out a new, appropriate name for free, or submitted a ticket disputing the decision.
The new process doesn't only take much longer (consider that League of Legends matches last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour), the nature of the survey is also making some players uncomfortable.
The strangest part of the new process is that the survey players are taking appears to be measuring their level of narcissism.
In one part of the survey, players are asked to choose which of two statements best describes how they feel:
- "I am no better or worse than most people," or "I think I am a special person."
- "I insist upon getting the respect that is due me," or " I usually get the respect that I deserve."
- "I try not to be a show off," or "I will usually show off if I get the chance."
And so on.
The survey doesn't seem to indicate this, but all these questions are lifted directly from the 40-item, forced-choice version of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) created by Robert Raskin and Howard Terry, a method for measuring narcissism. The test itself is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM) criteria for narcissistic personality disorder.
Another part of the survey asks how many times in the last seven days players have done the following:
- "I threatened to hurt or hit someone."
- "I said things about others to make people laugh."
- "I slapped or kicked someone."
- "I was angry most of the day."
- "I encouraged other people to fight."
And so on.
This part of the survey seems like a slightly modified version of "The Aggression Scale: A Self-Report Measure of Aggressive Behavior for Young Adolescents," written by Pamela Orpinas and Ralph Frankowski. You can take an online version of it here.
"Honestly, this just seems to be a gross over-step from Riot," Reddit user ZirGsuz said on the League of Legends subreddit. "If they felt compelled to do this, could they at least go through a third party? Not to mention how loaded some of the questions are."
"I know 'Riot don't owe us anything' is a meme here, but this is different; informed consent is the absolute cornerstone of all ethical research," Reddit user HatefulWretch said. "For that, you need enough information (as to the nature of the study, how the data will be stored, shared and used, etc) in order to give informed consent. I see no sign of that here, and that is a very serious breach of research ethics."
I haven't taken the survey myself—doing so would require creating a LoL user with an offensive name, playing until I get reported, and waiting until a survey appears—so I've been unable to confirm how Riot explains the survey beyond screenshots and user reports online. I reached out to Riot Games, whose PR agency declined comment.
Riot puts a great deal of effort into reducing toxic behavior in League of Legends, which 67 million people play every month. They analyze data from chat logs, hold player "tribunals" where members of the community dole out justice for misbehavior, and sometimes share their findings with the academic community. It's just not clear what this latest survey is for.