Toxicity in League of Legends?

Onling gaming is a platform for a wider variety of fun but many of them are subject to the toxic behavior that comes with internet anonymity. In 2003 when the popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) DOTA was released, the online gaming world took a turn that very few could have predicted. Since then, more than a few MOBAs have been released in similar fashion, the most popular of these “secondary” ones being League of Legends.

(image: http://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/407351-league-of-legends-windows-screenshot-my-champion-casted-a.jpg)

Since it’s inception in 2009, the game has experienced steady incline with its most recent achievement being the establishment of professional tournaments where sponsored players compete for cash prizes and in-game rewards. But where the game has increased in popularity, so has it in terms of toxicity. The game uses a random queuing system that sorts individuals by both performance in prior matches and, in ranked matches, by “leagues” that further sort them by tiers. This inherently creates a stigma around players in the form of inferiority/superiority complexes– some of those that are ranked lower than those they play with can oftentimes be bullied or trash talked for poor play. Inversely, there are more than enough players who feel that all that they do is perfect and that there is no need to improve. Of these behaviors, “trolls” is a term commonly used to refer to uncooperative players. As such, a decent number of League of Legends’ patrons participate or experience rude behavior or unsportsmanlike conduct in every (or close to every) match that they play. Riot employee Jeffrey “Lyte” Lin describes it as a psychological phenomenon  known as “negativity bias” where players more clearly remember their negative experiences with the game and, in turn, express this and cause more negativity in however large or small a part that may be. Even those that aren’t actively aggressive toward other players may very well employ passive aggression or refuse to cooperate as a show of disrespect for their teammates.

League-of-legends-logo

                      League of Legends logo

Riot Games, the creators of LoL, have made efforts to dissuade such behavior through the use of penalties like time restrictions or account bans. The community has also been tasked with attempting to moderate their fellow players through use of a report button, where it can be specified exactly what offense was made. If a player violates any of the game’s sportsmanlike rules and been reported often enough (the same occurs upon leaving matches before they’re through) they’ll suffer a ban through their automated system known as the LeaverBuster.

“A system called The Tribunal had been used to handle all reports made by players. In it, players who were level 20 and above could review chat and game logs before voting on whether or not they think the issue should be acted upon. If enough people believed it was a punishable offense, the system would initiate a minor infraction such as a chat ban or Riot would act upon it. Otherwise, the report would be dismissed and the offender would never know they had been reviewed. Response time was slow. The Tribunal was lenient,” according to Kotaku.com’s article “League of Legends’ Neverending War on Toxic Behavior” (Skiffington, 2014).

Riot has said that toxicity has greatly decreased in the past few years thanks to their efforts and to those of the community at large as they combine to create a more lasting and positive experience. Unfortunately, this is not something that any game can enforce with 100% efficiency without policing the game perhaps a bit above their means. The only question, though, is why? It seems most likely that the only problem is that this is to be expected in games with larger amounts of traffic where younger players and those who abuse their anonymity may express themselves poorly in any attempt to “have fun.”

Of particular interest is that in the forum post from Riot’s LoL website, players make note of the game’s lack of real consequence being key to the level of toxicity. With the game being entirely free to play. Forum user Tuffroot’s quote sums up this idea nicely, saying:

“The game is free. So people don’t risk much by freaking out.

The game is competitive. So people get caught up in it the same way they do sports.

The game is anonymous. So people don’t risk getting publicly shamed if called out.

You remove the risk to their reputations and their wallet, then you drop players in a high adrenaline environment. Some just snap. And one bad apple does spoil the bunch. If you played with 20 others today and 1 was toxic that is the 1 you will remember.”  – (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=3902104)

The toxicity of League of Legends is undeniable and while Riot has made attempts to curb it, it seems as though not much can be done. How do you weigh in? Do you believe that the game isn’t as bad as it seems or that it entirely is?

 

 

Warning: The follow video recorded by YouTube user JokerismLoL has language that some may find offensive. But here is but one example of the types of behavior that one may experience playing within this game’s community.

 

 

  4 comments for “Toxicity in League of Legends?

  1. sfrancis
    January 30, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    This is a problem I’ve experienced personally. Trolls and haters are the worst part of league. And it’s especially difficult for new players. But on the other side: there can also be people who praise you for being awesome, and that is the best feeling in the game. I feel like League s a big enough game and gets enough money that it could hire a full time team of judges that could go over the reports and see how many players are repeat offenders and things like that. I don’t know how much it would help.

  2. jamerive
    February 3, 2015 at 1:17 am

    The only problem is that Riot swears up and down that it isn’t a problem and that they’ve found the best solution for it and that obviously isn’t true. It is a mixed bag, though. The good comes with the bad but personally most of my experiences are generally neutral, being neither particularly good or bad.

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