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Riot Games will reward League of Legends players for not being jerks

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Riot Games is rewarding well-behaved League of Legends players with the release of a mystery skin that is only going to be available to players who spent 2014 without any bans, according to a blog post.

Users who haven't received a chat restriction, ranked restriction, 14-day ban or permanent ban at any point last year meet the requirements for the mystery gift. You also need to be at least level five.

"One, a few players are wondering why we are giving out an extrinsic (tangible!) reward for positive behavior when they might have heard we were against it in the past," wrote RiotLyte in a Reddit post. "This is a misunderstanding! We've always said that our player behavior philosophies include punishment, reform, and positive reinforcement. There's no silver bullet to improving player behavior in online games, and you always need a mix of punishments and rewards

"However, to give more context about this extrinsic reward, the key is that it is a surprise and not deterministic. What I mean by this is that it isn't some kind of achievement system where you are sportsmanlike for your next 10 games, then directly unlock a mystery gift. If you design a system like this, players will simply behave for 10 games, unlock their mystery gift and go back to their normal ways."

Riot will continue rewarding good behavior like this in 2015 in an attempt to give incentive for sportsman-like play.

The psychology of positive behavior

"For positive players in the game, this won't really affect them and they'll just get surprises every so often for being awesome. For neutral players, this effort might convince some of them to put in that extra effort in a few more games to get the next surprise. For toxic players, this effort might also encourage a few to change their ways though we expect the biggest impact to be with the neutral players. It's important to note that we did 2 tests of this design before (with Santa Baron icon and IP Boosts), but in future roll-outs it will be possible for players to earn the next surprise if they've been positive since the last surprise was awarded. So, if you were chat restricted and missed a surprise, you will still be eligible for the next surprise if you were positive in the time range between the 2 surprises and are not blacklisted for life.

"Not every surprise will be a mystery gift. Every surprise will differ in magnitude, and be tailored to different players. For example, the last surprise was an IP Boost which was mainly beneficial for newer players still building out their champion pools. Other surprises may include collectibles like unique summoner icons (which we tried before with the Santa Baron icon)."

This is part of an ongoing push to curb toxic behavior in the game. In 2014, Riot Games introduced more severe measures in an effort to reduce "extreme" player toxicity in League of Legends, handing out instant 14-day or permanent bans to players who exhibit the worst behavior in its game.

As a result Riot began testing a new approach that attemts to curb racist and homophobic language, death threats and unsportsmanlike conduct. Intentional feeding, the act of dying on purpose to give the opposing team an advantage, was also included.