Riot Explored Toxic In-Game Behavior and Workplace Toxicity



Riot Games LogoRiot Games is the creator of League of Legends, a game nearly 30 million players log into every day. While it is possible for any online game to attract some players who are verbally abusive to other players, League of Legends has developed a reputation for attracting quite a lot of those kinds of toxic players. Riot wondered if there was a correlation between highly toxic in-game play and workplace toxicity.

Riot’s hypothesis was that if a Rioter (a description given to people who work for Riot Games) received a lot of in-game complaints, that person would have friction with workplace teammates too. Was there a correlation between in-game toxicity and real-world behavior?

Everyone who works at Riot Games plays League of Legends. As such, Riot was able to look at the preceding 12 months of gameplay of every employee. They determined that 25% of Riot employees who had been let go in the previous year were players with unusually high in-game toxicity.

Some examples of toxic behaviors include homophobia, racism, sexism, and other forms of hate speech. Among the Rioters who had been let go in the past 12 months, the most common bad in-game behaviors included passive aggression (snarky comments), the use of authoritative language and sometimes misusing their authority as a Riot employee to intimidate or threaten others.

Riot identified the 30 most toxic employees and categorized them as either someone who needed a stern warning or as someone who should leave Riot. Those who received a warning were presented with their in-game chat logs in which they were exhibiting especially bad behavior. Apparently, some of those Rioters apologized and promised to change their ways.

Riot is trying to figure out how to use what they learned about the correlation between toxic in-game behavior and workplace toxicity to help them in the hiring process. Riot asks applicants for their in-game handle during the application process and can review that person’s gameplay. They are considering using an applicant tracking system that flags toxic players so that a recruiter or hiring manager can quickly see how an applicant behaves in League of Legends.

I’ve read through some of the comment sections of articles that discussed this topic. One one hand, people feel that Riot Games has the right to refuse to hire people who have been especially toxic while playing the company’s League of Legends game. It reflects on how that person would represent the company and the game itself. Others feel that looking at an applicant’s in-game chat is too intrusive.


GNC #1121 Back in the Studio



Back from my trip to Michigan and back in the studio. One extra episodes missed but when there is no news not a lot you can do about it. I have a lot to share and an action packed show.

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NY Attorney General’s Office Calls Time Warner Cable’s Speeds “Abysmal”



Time Warner Cable logo The office of New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schniederman, has sent a letter to President and CEO of Charter Communications, Inc., Tom Rutledge, that describes Time Warner Cable’s speed as “abysmal”. Charter is the new owner of Time Warner Cable, and has rebranded it as Charter Communications.

The letter was published by The Washington Post. It is signed by Senior Enforcement Counsel and Special Advisor Tim Wu and has the State of New York Office of the Attorney General letterhead. The letter points out the problems with Time Warner Cable and notes that the company’s new management has a fresh opportunity to make improvements.

In the letter, it is pointed out that Time Warner Cable promised customers a “blazing fast”, “super-reliable” internet connection. However, customers were experiencing degraded internet performance, including the customers who were using on-demand video services like Netflix, despite the promises from Time Warner Cable that the customers would be able to stream video content reliably and with “no buffering”.

The letter says customers had become frustrated “as movies freeze, websites load endlessly, and games become non-responsive”. The letter also states that “it appears that Time Warner Cable has been advertising it WiFi in ways that defy the technology’s technical capabilities and has been provisioning some of its customers with equipment that simply cannot achieve the higher bandwidths the company has sold to them.”

From the letter:

We recently called on New York customers of major broadband providers to use open source tools to test the Internet speeds they were experiencing. The results we received from Time Warner Cable customers were abysmal. Not only did Time Warner Cable fail to achieve the speeds its customers were promised and paid for (which Time Warner Cable blamed on the testing method), it generally preformed worse in this regard than other New York broadband providers.


Screams in Video Games are Killing Actor’s Voices



SAG-AFTRA logoWhen your character dies in a video game, he or she may let out a dramatic, blood-curdling, scream. You might be screaming as well, out of frustration. Chances are, you don’t spend a lot of time screaming at your video games. That’s good, because it turns out that all that screaming is causing harm to the voices of the actors who bring your character to life.

The national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), David White, sent a letter to California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) on May 25, 2016. The union wants the state of California to open an investigation into the allegedly unsafe vocal recording sessions that some companies in the video game industry are requiring voice actors to do.

Voice actors who work in the video game industry are asked to work long hours. Those hours are spent recording loud and strenuous noises (including violent screaming). Some may be asked to use their voices to make noises for characters that are not human. Keep in mind that a voice actor rarely gets the line perfect on the first try. It is common for them to have to do many retakes of the same line, over and over again.

The letter from SAG-AFTRA states that the voice actor union members were not given enough time to properly warm up their voices. Some members have experienced cysts, polyps, and cord hemorrhaging as a result of their working conditions. SAG-AFTRA points out that this could result in changes in vocal quality or complete vocal cord paralysis. Obviously, that could end a voice actor’s career.

The next time your character dies, listen closely to the sound. Spare a thought for the voice actor or actress who had to stress their vocal cords by making that scream.


Devolo dLAN 550 WiFi Starter Kit Review



Devolo LogoDevolo’s recent expansion into smart homes and home automation doesn’t mean that they’ve been neglecting their powerline network business. After upping their game with their top-of-the-line dLAN 1200 series, they’ve turned their attention to the mid-range, refreshing the design and boosting speeds. The new dLAN 550 series updates the dLAN 500s, offering greater in-house range and faster WiFi transmission rates. For those unaware of powerline networking, it’s a system that uses electrical wiring to carry network data, with ethernet-to-power adaptors where networking is required. Devolo kindly supplied me with a dLAN 550 WiFi Starter Kit to check out. Let’s take a look.

Devolo 550 Starter Kit Box

The box is Devolo’s usual fare, with a printed outer box and a plain cardboard inner box. In the box there are two powerline adaptors, one 550 Duo+ and one 550 WiFi. There’s also a white network cable, instructions and a couple of flimsies on “conformity”. The new style Duo+ is roughly twice the size of the WiFi unit, extending upwards from the UK-style power plug. The unit has twin network ports on the top and power pass through. There’s a small button on one side and a single white LED above the power socket. As for the more compact WiFi unit, it’s had a design refresh too, with a single ethernet port on the bottom, and two round buttons on the front which double up as indicator LEDs.

Devolo 550 Starter Kit

Getting going is easy. Plug the Duo+ into a power socket near a router and connect both of them with an ethernet cable. Plug the WiFi adaptor into a socket where additional wireless coverage is need. The two adaptors are paired out of the box and a few seconds after plugging in the units, the white LEDs will stop flashing and go solid. If the adaptors need to be paired (or added into an existing powerline network), it’s simply a case of pressing the pair button on both devices for a few seconds and they’ll sync up.

Devolo 550 Starter Kit Side View

To setup the WiFi, there’s a couple of options. Devolo have desktop app, Cockpit, for Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X and Ubuntu Linux which can be downloaded from Devolo. This provides a graphical representation of the dLAN network which clicks through to individual adaptors. The application finds everything automatically and can check that all the adaptors are running the latest versions of their respective firmware, upgrading as necessary. I take some of the data transmission speeds with a pinch of salt, and rely on “bigger is better”.

Devolo Cockpit

There’s a mobile version of Cockpit available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, called “My Devolo”. It’s not as graphical as the full software but it’s still feature rich, allowing access to a wide range of device features. Here’s detail for the 550 WiFi.

Devolo dLAN 550 WiFi  Devolo dLAN 550 details  Devolo dLAN 550 features

Devolo 550 WiFi wirelessIn the app, the wifi network can be configured as preferred with SSID, passphrase, channel, mode and encryption standard. Everything expected of a wireless access point. Aside from the wireless settings, there are sections for parental controls, guest access and MAC address filtering and WPS features.

The 550 WiFi is an 11n device working in the 2.4 GHz frequencies. It’s not 11ac 5GHz, but the 550 boosts transmission rates to 300 Mb/s over the 500’s lower 150 Mb/s by using 2×2 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. Obviously, the laptop or tablet has to support the faster wireless rate and while the base data rate may have doubled, actual data transfer won’t. A quick bit of testing suggests that a real-world increase of around 50%-60% is realistic under good conditions. YMMV.

Returning to the Duo+, the adaptor uses all three electrical cables (live, neutral and earth) for networking, which increases performance and range by a third from a notional maximum of 300m to 400m, though this will be affected by local circumstances. My house isn’t big enough to test this, so we’ll just have to trust Devolo on this one.

The dLAN 550 WiFi is now available online and in stores. The Starter Kit costs GB£99.99 and consists of a dLAN 550 WiFi and an additional dLAN 550 duo+ adapter. A Network Kit with three adapters (two 550 dLAN WiFi adapters and one dLAN 550 duo+) is available for £149.99, while single adapters for extending the WiFi network are available for £59.99.

Thanks to Devolo for the 550 WiFi Starter Kit for review.


Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 4k – UP3216Q Monitor Review



dellI will start off by saying the Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 4k – UP3216Q is the most incredible monitor I have ever reviewed. For the past month I have been using it as my primary desktop monitor connected via the Dell Thunderbolt Dock and a Dell XPS 12 2 in 1.

When I received this monitor, I was a bit apprehensive due to it’s 32 inch size, but as soon as I made some room for it on my desktop, and turned it on I was blown away. Honestly I am astonished every time I sit in front of it has a phenomenal viewing experience. The color clarity, brightness and crispness is simply remarkable.

While this monitor is specifically designed for graphics professionals and delivers accurate, consistent color w/ PremierColor . My wife saw it, and immediately demanded that I order one for her desktop based on just seeing it even before I run it through it’s paces.

In the years I have been doing video / photo editing, I have never felt I needed to color correct. Having a monitor that is color accuraet from the start has given me a new perspective into some of my editing strategies.

You do not have to be a video or photo editor to get tremendous value from this monitor. In my opinion I walk away with less eye stress and also feel that I have a new perspective on website design work etc. I am not going to dive deep on the spec’s Dell does that better than I ever could. You will want to make sure you review the connection options with the monitor, to make sure your computer supports it. Connectivity includes DP, mDP, HDMI (MHL), 4 x USB3 with one charging port, 1 x USB3 upstream, Media Card Reader

Let me say this, if your looking for a new monitor and it’s in your budget it will be a worthy investement to step up to the Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 4k – UP3216Q.

Disclosure: Dell has provided me this monitor to review, it has been utilized in real world office conditions for the past month.


Blizzard and Facebook Team Up to Empower Streamers



Blizzard Entertainment logoBlizzard announced that it is working together with Facebook to give gamers new ways to connect and share their gaming experiences, and to bring more high-demand content to Facebook’s global platform.

The collaboration between the two companies will begin later this month with the integration of Facebook Login in Blizzard’s PC games. (The console games are unaffected by this collaboration). The integration of the Facebook login will enable players to sign up for and log into Blizzard’s games – including World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Diablo III, StarCraft II and Overwatch – using their Facebook accounts.

What do these two companies get from this collaboration? Blizzard gets a way to add new social functionality in their games. Facebook gets a means to highlight its platform for sharing, viewing, and discussing AAA game content.

Blizzard is in the process of incorporating Facebook’s Live API in order to create its own “Go Live” streaming functionality for its games. When that functionality is implemented, players will for the first time be able to livestream their Blizzard-gaming sessions directly through their Facebook timelines. The player’s Facebook friends will be able to subscribe and be notified when the player’s new streams are available.


TeamViewer Has Been Hacked



TeamViewer LogoSometimes, you just need to do a quick remote log in to someone else’s computer. There are plenty of tools available for doing this. But most of them are either expensive to purchase or difficult to set up. Remote desktop app TeamViewer changed all that with a series of free cross-platform, lightweight apps that require only a couple of numeric codes in order to connect to a remote machine. This has made TeamViewer very popular, and in turn, an inevitable target for hackers.

Last week, threads began surfacing on Reddit written by TeamViewer users claiming they had been hacked thru the app. Most of the hacking claims had common points. Users who were initially away from their computers came back to find their machines were being remotely controlled and directed to website like PayPal, eBay, and Amazon. This instance was reported by Reddit user psiren66:

I was sitting on my couch at 12am and all of a sudden my machine light up.
It opened an eBay page ans started trying to buy iTunes cards. I noticed that teamviewer was running as it’s access. as soon as i touched my mouse they disconnected. I opened my teamviewer and roughly 50 accounts had been added to it.
Changed all my passwords instantly. and added two step verification to my email and teamviewer accounts.

At first, TeamViewer was denying that its platform had been hacked, blaming these issues on user error. But the company has since stated that it knows about the hacks and that they are “significant”:

TeamViewer spokesman Axel Schmidt acknowledged to Ars that the number of takeovers was “significant,” but he continued to maintain that the compromises are the result of user passwords that were compromised through a cluster of recently exposed megabreaches involving more than 642 million passwords belonging to users of LinkedIn, MySpace, and other services.

If you’re a regular TeamViewer user, you should consider changing your password and possibly adding two-factor authentication to your account. If you use the application sparingly, you may just want to remove it completely from your computer until you need it again. The application is a quick download and it’d only take a few minutes to reinstall.


OnePlus Loop VR Review



OnePlus LogoOnePlus is launching the next model in its wildly successful line of smartphones on 14 June and its going to do the launch in VR, basing the event on an orbiting spacestation called The Loop. Although the fourth phone from the Chinese outfit, it’s going to be the OnePlus 3 following on from the 1, 2 and X. I’ve personally bought the 1 and 2 after falling out with the Nexus 5.

To support the VR launch of the 3, OnePlus gave away 30,000 Loop VR headsets with purchasers paying only for the postage. Of course there was a massive rush, but I managed to snag one and it arrived today. It’s been developed in partnership with AntVR, who launched a VR system through Kickstarter in later 2014.

Here are a few snaps.

Loop VR in box

OnePlus Loop VR in box

OnePlus Loop VR Front

OnePlus Loop VR Lenses

OnePlus Loop VR Side

OnePlus Loop VR

OnePlus Loop VR

OnePlus Loop VR

I don’t have much experience with VR headsets but build quality is on the solid plastic side of things. The elastic headbands are adjustable and the lenses can be adjusted to three positions. I wouldn’t exactly say that it’s comfortable to wear but it’s probably what you’d expect from lump of plastic strapped to your face.

The smartphone slides in the front for the screen….and this is where it all came to a stop. How are you supposed to control the smartphone when it’s in headset? You can’t tap on anything as the phone’s on your head. Do you need a Bluetooth mouse or similar? The links to an AntVR app don’t seem to work and the OnePlus Loop VR is counting down to 14 June. I kind of assumed that Google Cardboard apps would work as common denominator on Android but no, that doesn’t seem to work either – I can’t seem to select any menu options.

Massively disappointed. All very much reminds me of 3D TVs….

I hope things improve once the OnePlus Loop VR app comes to life on 14 June but if any GNC readers want to educate me on the ways of VR headsets, please fill me in through the comments.


Blizzard is Banning Cheaters from Overwatch



Overwatch logoBlizzard wasn’t kidding when it said it would ban players who cheat from being able to play Overwatch. The game launched on May 24, 2016. Already, there is indication that the bans have begun.

PC Gamer appears to be the first to report about the bans. They mention that one player got banned, bought the game again, and found that doing so was not a way to get around the ban. He still couldn’t play Overwatch.

To me, this is a sign that Blizzard’s ban on cheaters who play Overwatch is being done differently than how they have banned cheating players from some of their other games. It has been said (on forums I will not link to because they discuss things that are definitely against Blizzard’s terms of service) that cheaters who got banned from Diablo III were able to play the game again if they purchased a new copy.

Blizzard posted a list of 1,572 players who are in China, who have cheated, and who got banned from Overwatch as a result. (Some of the battletag names on that list are in English, and several are NSFW). So far, I haven’t seen a similar “name and shame” list of banned Overwatch players in other regions, but China is not the only region in which cheating players have been banned.

Blizzard was absolutely serious when they stated, on May 13, 2016, that they would ban players who cheat in Overwatch. Their original post warned: “If a player is found to be cheating -or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage – that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.” I’d like to see Blizzard do that same ban on the players who cheat in their other games, too.

There is at least one Overwatch player who is very happy about the bans on players who were cheating. This player is thankful that Blizzard is keeping a zero-tolerance policy on cheating in Overwatch. He also feels that the way the bans were implemented could discourage other players from cheating.