Designing a

world-saving

champion

Clairvoyance Blog

Hi everyone! We’re Tog3pi, an Insights researcher, and Kushnood, philanthropy guy. We recently did some pretty unusual global research to help Riot's philanthropy team understand what issues players care about, and what they want to change about the real world. Our hope was that if we answered these questions, we could find better ways to help nonprofits make an impact in areas that matter to players.



Here at Riot, we use a variety of different research techniques depending on the questions we want to answer, including player labs, surveys, ethnography and data analytics. When we first started approaching this topic, it was pretty different from anything we were currently researching. Since we can’t meet everybody (sadface), we created the “Three Wishes Survey,” which reached thousands of players in multiple regions to ensure they were heard. Players were asked to share their top three wishes related to themselves, their country, and the world.

As the survey went live earlier this year, we began visiting our players in their home countries and setting up focus groups to discuss what really matters to them. Sometimes super structured, rigorous surveys aren’t enough—we need creative approaches that are less scientific but more evocative. We needed to go out and spend time talking and getting to know our players in person.

It can be super uncomfortable to talk about feelings, especially with a group of strangers. So, we came up with a fun way to get players talking about what really matters to them: creating a champion. The champs didn't have to fit into the League's game or universe, since we wanted players to explore their own imaginations without any artificial limits like cooldown timers on abilities. We asked players to create champions whose abilities reflected their values and the issues they care about.

As an example, we introduced “Zulia,” a champion whose ultimate—Creativia!—spawned art centers that allowed more people to learn and grow artistic skills. Her W—NomNom—provided food packages for people in poverty. Immediately, players grasped the idea we were pitching, and started making their own real-world OP champs. Here are a few highlights:



Luna

Passive Aura of Happiness
Q Spirit Force: Allows an area to become abundant in vegetation, growth and animal ecosystems
W Cleanse: Sends deep cleansing spells into the earth to purify water
E Mental Comfort: Removes all fears, silences, stuns. Makes people unafraid
R Unite: Stops all conflict in a particular area

Luna was designed by a player in Europe who was a self-described “socially minded person.” She told us how important environmental conservation was to her and how much she love outdoor activities.

With this champion, we thought it was 1) adorable af, and 2) had breadth in terms of the topics it addresses. Luna highlights issues ranging all the way from clean water to mental well-being and conflict resolution. A ton of these values appeared as priorities for players in survey results from across the globe, so it was awesome to get the chance to really talk about them in person.



The Time Controlling Frog

Passive Gain more time by spending other resources
Q Share skills with others so that you don’t need to waste time
W Boosts their skills and abilities and grows physical size at the expense of some life force
E Momentarily increase your ability to memorize. Anything you memorize during this period is stored in your memory and never forgotten
R Slows down time to give you more time during the day

We talked with this player from Asia at the end of their busy week. He had just come from work and had an entire weekend of school work ahead of him. From his champion design, it's pretty clear he was highly focused on optimizing his time during the day. However, during our conversation, the player discussed a lot of his frustration around the hyper-competitive job market for new college graduates, and how much pressure he felt trying to start a good career.

This player was not alone—in fact, quality education and job training was the highest rated value amongst our North American, European, Brazilian and Oceanic players in our multi-region survey.



Poncho

Passive Meditation: When alone constantly battles with his own negativity striving him more to help others
Q Calm Palm: Poncho hits angry people until they feel calm
W Repel negativity: Creates a field that negative energy cannot enter
E Warmth: Poncho gives people that feel alone the warmth of their good memories, boosting morale
R Restoration: Helps people through their problems by channeling his positive energy through them, gradually restoring their mental state

From reading Poncho’s abilities, a pretty clear theme around mental well-being emerges. Further into our conversation, this player shared that they had a friend who was suffering from depression and wanted to help him out, but felt helpless on how to do so. He mentioned that depression is very different for everyone, but a good starting point is to get people to begin talking about it in order to address it. For being relatively young, we were gobsmacked at his maturity and ability to open up about things that can be hard for anyone to talk about.

Interestingly, health and well-being was another value that players shared, scoring as the #2 topic of interest in Oceania and North America, and mentioned by players throughout all surveyed regions.



More Champs

Players created countless other champs during our focus group sessions. Here are a few of our favorites:





As you’d expect, there’s a lot of variety across the different champion designs. In Northern Europe for instance, there was a focus on physical health, environmental conservation, and enjoying the sunny outdoors. However, there were a lot of similarities among certain players no matter where they were living. If you’re trying to graduate from college or find a decent job, life sucks for pretty much everyone (we didn’t really need any research for that gem). Building and maintaining good mental health is also a value we all share, and most of us could use a Poncho in our lives to help us out from time to time.

We’ve learned a ton from our players so far—it's incredible how creative, honest and open these players were when sharing these thoughts with us. But how do we use these insights? First, we can now better understand what's going through the minds of players across the globe when they’re not in game, and especially what IRL issues matter to them. In combination with multi-region survey results, these focus groups helped us identify some particular nonprofits we’re partnering with in the near-ish future. Ultimately, this was about learning so we could find authentic ways to support issues that matter to our players and make a difference in their communities.

If you could make your own champions to help the world, what would they look like, and what could they do?