Lin was previously the Lead Game Designer of Social Systems at Riot and was responsible for much of the player feedback tools and utilities. He made it a priority to stamp out negative behaviour in the League community.
“Riot will be perpetually on my radar. That said, impossible problems have an irresistible allure to me, and I think it’s time for a new challenge,” he said in a statement. “League is in better hands than ever before, and I’m excited to see, as a player, what they’ll do next.”
With a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience, Lin attempted to use psychology to reduce online toxicity. His efforts made him extensively profiled in the greater gaming community. Speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun, he stated that Riot should be looking at ways to focus on an individual’s achievements.
“Although the core game of League is pretty fun, we think we’ve just scratched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social experiences around League of Legends. One of our end-game goals for League is to give each match a meaning and purpose, and to give players more ways to show off their story in League.”
This experimenting with the League community as a quasi-lab has won Lin both praise and criticism. Those who support his trials state that better outcomes were achieved by the data collected.
Meanwhile, many in the League community felt he did not adequately address the causes of online flaming and only dealt with those who spewed vitriol in chat. Silent griefers were, on the whole, inadequately punished. And some researchers thought the data could help further the academic knowledge.
“If those processes could at least be opened to academic researchers — or at least to observation — research in human behavior would advance very rapidly and change the character of how research could be done,” says Brian Nosek, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia to Backchannel. “You could imagine with this sort of iterative process that science would just come out, boom, boom, boom.”
Opponents have raised concerns with a for-profit company having so much data available about their players. And in an age where data retention is becoming a serious topic, many have begun to wonder about the goals of the data collected, especially after Riot sent a peculiar survey to banned players late last year.
Lin has had successes and failures throughout his Riot career. The launch of Team Builder was regarded as a major success and elevated his profile throughout the League community, but the failure of Dynamic queue and the constant delay of solo queue have been a source of frustration for players.
Whatever people think of him, Lin believes that his experience with Riot and League was remarkable.
“To Riot: When I joined here I was just a kid. A mid-level designer with the opportunity to solve an impossible problem. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way – and learned so much from them – but the journey has been incredible. To players: keep giving feedback and working with Riot to make League last for another decade, so I can one day teach my future son how to play this crazy game.”