U of M Licenses Technology to Online Gaming Start-up

Ninja Metrics has developed software that is aimed at helping online game creators identify players' psycho-social motivations and take action to help ensure enhanced user experience.

The University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering announced Tuesday that it has finalized a license agreement with a start-up company whose software analyzes data to identify key traits among multi-player online gaming communities.

The company, called Ninja Metrics, is based in Los Angeles and was cofounded by Jaideep Srivastava, a University of Minnesota computer science and engineering professor, and Dmitri Williams, a University of Southern California associate professor.

The goal behind the company's software is to help online game creators ensure enhanced user experiences by better understanding the psycho-social motivations of the players.

The start-up uses novel data-mining techniques, developed in part at the University of Minnesota, that extract key user traits from a massive pool of data being collected from online gaming platforms.

According to Srivastava, Ninja Metrics can analyze social data to identify user trends, target key players, and predict when a player may cancel his or her account. According to the U, a number of undisclosed major players in the online gaming industry have expressed interest in the company's technology.

Srivastava hopes to expand the scope of Ninja Metrics' technology and apply it to retailers and other businesses.

“If you look at direct mail or other marketing techniques, it's targeted at an individual's behavior and ignores the social influences surrounding them,” he said in a statement. “If [marketers] can analyze the social influences, it allows them to better target a customer.”

The U's Office for Technology Commercialization worked with the University of Southern California to negotiate the license agreement, and the company's research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Research Labs, and the U.S. Army.

Several U of M research students-Kyong Jin Shim, Nishith Pathak, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, and Senthil Krishnamoorthy-assisted Srivastava.