The user names of online gamers could say more about their personalities than they realised, according to researchers.
Psychologists at the University of York discovered that those using profanity in their choice of pseudonym might exhibit anti-social behaviour when interacting with other players.
The researchers, who studied the records of people playing the battle game League of Legends, say their findings could provide evidence of autism, sociopathy or addictive personality.
The developer of League of Legends, Riot Games, provided 500,000 data points for the analysis. The anonymised data contained user names, information on the in-game behaviour of players and the reaction of other gamers – the latter from the post-match ‘Honour’ and ‘Report’ feedback each player can file. The study is the first to use this method to examine player interaction in a multiplayer online battle arena game.
Prof Alex Wade, who led the research, said: “We found that people who have anti-social names tend to behave in an anti-social way within the game. Younger people behave poorly and older people less so.
“This data is like a window on individual players’ personalities so we believe that we might be able to use video games as a way of testing people’s personalities.”
PhD student Athanasios Kokkinakis added: “We think this is just the tip of the iceberg – these massive datasets offer an unprecedented tool for studying human psychology across the globe.”