The Riot team hypothesized there’d be a correlation between highly toxic in-game play and workplace toxicity; if a Rioter received lots of in-game complaints, the team assumed they'd have more friction with workplace teammates too. This is not to say Riot had a problem with workplace toxicity. Ranking high on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work For list, it was quite the opposite. But as a quickly growing company they were concerned about strengthening and scaling their culture.
Riot looked at the preceding 12 months of gameplay of every employee and discovered there was a correlation between in-game and in-Riot toxicity. They determined that 25% of employees who had been let go in the previous year were players with unusually high in-game toxicity. The most common bad behaviors they found were passive aggression (snarky comments) and the use of authoritative language, sometimes using their authority as a Riot employee to intimidate or threaten others.
Riot also found that a player’s toxicity was a fluid thing and not immutable. Like moods, toxicity levels can fluctuate. Riot could measure and predict toxicity trajectories of players over time, and so they set about seeing if they could improve the player behavior of their employees.
Riot identified the 30 most toxic employees (all of whom were more junior Rioters, new to the working world) and classified them into two categories: