DJ Jonah (or Riot Games’ values in action)

Today, a story.

On Tuesday of last week, Riot Games released news of its DJ Sona skin, the third-ever “Ultimate” skin for League of Legends. A guy at Forbes went so far as to call it the Mona Lisa of videogames (it’s a great article, by the way). And it’s true that there is something deep and profoundly beautiful about DJ Sona, the care and fun that was clearly part of its creation and what it will bring to the game. The skin’s killer music is being played all over Riot’s offices, along with the recently-released League soundtrack.

Well, it just so happens that my son Jonah has been playing Sona as a main Champion. He’s also a League fanatic and makes it a point to stay up on news about the game. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that I received the following e-mail:

OMG U HAVE TO SEE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IT IS THE BEST THING EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S.  i am so happy

Nothing like living with my own Riot focus group, eh? Jonah’s message put a huge smile on my face, and I showed it to several people at Riot throughout the day. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that his e-mail was a symbol of Riot’s ability to surprise and delight players. He didn’t see DJ Sona coming, and when he discovered it, his brain basically exploded with glee.

The following day, I asked around Riot to discover who on the Skins team was responsible for this particular Mona Lisa. I forwarded my son’s e-mail to Liz with the following header:


I just wanted to forward an email from my 13-year old son. He’s been playing Sona a lot and you definitely made his wildest dreams come true


Within ten seconds she had responded:

This is fantastic!! Thank you for sharing Jay. We’re so humbled and floored by the response. 🙂 I’ll pass this on to the team as well!

I smiled again, happy that the good mojo of DJ Sona was moving throughout the world. Here is where I thought this particular story would end.

To my surprise, I received a chat hangout from someone else on the Skins team about two hours later. He’d read Jonah’s e-mail, he said, and he thought it would be cool to send Jonah enough RP to buy DJ Sona when it’s released.

Now it was my brain’s turn to explode. What had started as me hoping to make Liz feel proud had come full circle. If Jonah was excited about DJ Sona, he would be triple-excited to have it gifted to him (and the skin runs about $25 US, so it’s a significant gift). In addition, to hear from a Riot-Games-person-who’s-not-me would put him over the moon. I gushed my thanks over chat, and smiled a third time, knowing that I was about the win the Ultra Cool Dad award of the day.

Which, in turn, led to the following e-mail exchange:


My name is David. I’m a Development Manager on the Skins Team for League of Legends. Your email about how excited you were for DJ Sona made it to our team today and wanted to say I’m really happy you’re so excited! The reaction we get from players is what makes us come to work every day. We love when something we’ve been jamming on for months finally goes out and people get excited.

Our team loves the reaction we’re getting to her, we’re crazy excited as well. I’ve gone ahead and sent you enough RP so that you can buy her when she comes out (plus a little extra). Hope she’s as awesome as you expect! 🙂

Good luck on the rift!


My name is Jonah Salazar and… Thank you so much!!!!!!!!! And I’m glad that you got to read my email!  I think it’s SO cool what you and your team, and everyone at Riot, does and I hope to maybe meet you in the future, and maybe work for you, we’ll see where my future lies 😉

P.S. This skin maybe, might have, had something to do with why I was too excited to sleep last night (but its ok, IT WAS WORTH IT)

That’s the end of the story. We talk a lot about Riot Games being a player-focused company. Passion for the player experience echoes in our Santa Monica hallways. Occasionally I see tangible examples of it happening before my eyes. Last week, our core values were on full display, and those values touched one of the people I love most in the world. My son is thrilled. THRILLED. For a week he hasn’t really talked about anything else. He’s never felt so connected to any brand, ever. And the Riot recipe for his adoration seems to be: a) make a great game, b) find ways to make that game’s players’ brains explode with glee, and c) rinse and repeat.

A cynic might say that the only reason my son received his RP is because he’s my son and I’m a senior dude at the company. Pff. Those people don’t understand this strange and wonderful company I’ve joined. Acts like this one happen when Rioters see a way to make any player happy, and the more personal the touch the better. I’m pretty sure that if Jonah’s e-mail had said that he also collected action figures that the Skins team would team up with our Merchandise team to create a one-of-a-kind DJ Sona figurine. It’s how Rioters are wired.

Thank you Liz. Thank you David. And thank you Riot. It’s been so fun this past week to see our company mission in action, up close and personal.


p.s. All Riot Rumble teams in both divisions are off this week. No, I don’t know why either. The competition resumes next week!

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