Current League of Legends Lead Gameplay Designer Matt “Riot Phroxzon” Leung-Harrison wasn’t even living in Los Angeles when he first applied for an intern game designer position at Riot Games HQ.

In fact, his major wasn’t even related to gaming. At UNSW Sydney, Australia, he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Renewable Energy and Computer Science in 2016.

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During his university days, he did two internship stints with Riot in game design, and eventually landed a full-time position as Associate Game Designer at HQ.

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In an exclusive interview with ONE Esports, he reflects on his 10-year journey breaking through the ranks from game designer, to senior game designer, to lead game designer, and into his current role as lead gameplay designer.

Riot Phroxzon took 10 years to rise from intern to League of Legends Lead Game Designer

Looking back on his career, he feels “grateful” and believes that passion is what’s driven him for the past decade.

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“I’m legitimately passionate about the game. I want to make the thing that’s best for players. Everybody on the dev team is like that as well,” Riot Phroxzon shared. “It really helps when everybody has that type of mentality and energy around them and it really helps to get things done.”

Riot Games lead game designer Matt “Riot Phroxzon” Leung-Harrison
Credit: Matt Leung-Harrison

Alongside passion, he believes that his willingness to put forth the hard work while taking initiative is the second key factor that’s propelled him upwards.

“[When] you’re willing to challenge things that you don’t feel are necessarily moving forward in that direction, I think that’s really what helped me with my career — being able to present that strong voice,” said Riot Phroxzon.

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He would question if certain decisions would “really impact players in a positive way,” and raise questions to the dev team when he sees that players could be affected negatively, then subsequently propose a change in trajectory.

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“Really believing in what you believe in, but also being willing to say, hey, maybe the thing that I believe
in is not the right thing and being open to being wrong about things — I think that’s a really good mentality to have,” he said.

For example, if someone provides a compelling argument that his position is wrong, he’s very open to change it.

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Conversely, there are times on social media like X and Reddit where the community doesn’t provide constructive feedback and instead, takes it out on game designers in the company.

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“As a game designer, I definitely would encourage the community to be a bit more respectful of their discourse,” said Riot Phroxzon.

He acknowledges that it’s very natural for people to vent their frustrations online, which isn’t entirely a bad thing, for it shows that players are passionate about the game.

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“At the same time, the thing that is most useful for us is when players tell us about problems. Players are excellent at understanding problems, but they’re not so great at telling us what the specific solution is,” Riot Phroxzon reflected.

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“They don’t have all the information that we have around how long it takes to develop a certain feature, what the trade-offs are going to be, what the costs are going to be, what the strengths and weaknesses of the designers and artists and engineers and everyone working on the product,” he added.

As such, he values when players voice problems with the game so that the game designers can figure out the best way to solve it — even if it’s “small” bugs.

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These have a high impact on players. who spend hours playing every day. who may find these bugs one of the most frustrating aspects when playing the game.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing as much as we can to both move the game forward in a big way as well as reduce the effects that people have with the small things in the game,” said Riot Phroxzon.

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