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What's in a name? Ages and names predict the valence of social interactions in a massive online game

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Publication details

JournalComputers in Human Behavior
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Sep 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2015
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2016
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)605-613
Early online date12/11/15
Original languageUndefined/Unknown


Publication date: February 2016
Source:Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 55, Part B
Author(s): Athanasios V. Kokkinakis, Jeff Lin, Davin Pavlas, Alex R. Wade

Multi-player online battle arena games (MOBAs) are large virtual environments requiring complex problem-solving and social interaction. We asked whether these games generate psychologically interesting data about the players themselves. Specifically, we asked whether user names, which are chosen by players outside of the game itself, predicted in-game behaviour. To examine this, we analysed a large anonymized dataset from a popular MOBA (‘League of Legends’) – by some measures the most popular game in the world. We find that user names contain two pieces of information that correlate with in-game social behaviour. Both player age (estimated from numerical sequences within name) and the presence of highly anti-social words are correlated with the valences of player/player interactions within the game. Our findings suggest that players' real-world characteristics influence behaviour and interpersonal interactions within online games. Anonymized statistics derived from such games may therefore be a valuable tool for studying psychological traits across global populations.

    Research areas

  • computer science

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