Sexual Walrus. WhoFlungDung. Carlton Ganks. Cocktimus Prime.
Those are a few of the “Best Usernames on League of Legends” forum, and a new study reveals that those user ID’s say lot about gamers’ real-life personalities: Researchers at the University of York have found the more profane your screen name, the more likely you are to be antisocial during gameplay and IRL.
It turns out that video game data is a rich resource for analyzing social behavior. In their study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, the researchers analyzed 500,000 anonymized data points provided by League of Legends developer Riot Games. The data linked users’ screen names, their in-game behavior, and the reactions they excited from other players, as measured by the “Honor” (positive feedback) and “Report” (negative feedback) scores individuals file for other users.
In their analysis, the team found that usernames contain two key bits of information: They provide indirect evidence of a player’s age — and direct evidence of the user’s penchant for profanity. Both of these variables were linked to in-game social behavior.
The researchers found that screen names containing numbers — say, BilboTeabaggins1996 — often indicated gamers’ birth year, allowing them to estimate age. Names that incorporated profanities or other anti-social expressions didn’t require much extrapolation.
Younger users and more profane names were both correlated with a higher number of negative reactions, or “reports,” from other users. More benign usernames and older players were linked to positive ratings, which the authors suggest stemmed from in-game behaviors like rapid learning, team building, and leadership.
“We found that people who have anti-social names tend to behave in an anti-social way within the game,” said lead author Alex Wade, Ph.D., in a release. “Younger people behave poorly and older people less so.”
Figuring out how to mine video game data correctly could provide huge insights into gamer personalities, the authors suggest. If done correctly, it could eventually provide information on clinical disorders, such as autism, sociopathy, or addictive personality.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Cocktimus Prime is just trying to be funny. Learning how to sort out the comedians from the sociopaths will be the hardest part.