For those of you that play League of Legends (or online gaming at all, for that matter) you most likely have been called “trash”, a “noob”, or other, worse names that aren’t necessary to mention. Your mom, sex life, and personal skills have probably been insulted in great detail, and I’m sure you’ve been asked to uninstall the game. All this, of course, is what comes with the joy of playing an innocent game with online strangers around the globe. As a result, you have either molded yourself into a thick wall of stone that mere words could not break, or rather the sharp insults have pierced your enjoyment of the game, ultimately leaving you to not play again.
When I first started playing the free, MOBA style game, League of Legends, I started off at level 1; same as everyone else. I learned the dynamics and strategies alongside all other nine players in the game (two teams of five). But as my level grew from 1, to 15, and to the max of 30, I’ve found a significant difference in the community. Since I had reached the maximum level, I was now playing with people who could have been players for a short amount of time, or for the five years the game has been out. Suddenly, all the simple mistakes I made were resulting in me needing to “quit the game forever” to “spare the rest of the League community.” What once was a simple win/lose match turned into all hell breaking loose if I were to forget to ward or if I bought the wrong items. The chatbox filled with hateful comments about how I was playing that specific character wrong, or how I needed to stop “feeding the other team.”
A lot of the times, the person complaining the most isn’t doing so well themselves. They then use the remainder of the game pouring out the reasons why it was not their fault. Because, of course, it is never their fault. It’s always yours. I do admit, however, that I sometimes make mistakes. But what the toxic players don’t seem to understand is that I’m well aware of when I’m having an off-game. If my score is 1 kill, 12 deaths, and 2 kill assists, then I am aware that I’m not doing so hot. And the ridicule from that one angry teammate, believe it or not, isn’t making me play any better.
Now, I’m no saint. I’ll raise my hand to admit that I can be toxic as well. If I’m pushed far enough, I can be very irritated with a player who seems to be running mindlessly into enemy lines. But the toxicity I practice is outside of the chatbox. When I complain, I complain out loud, where none of the other players can hear me. This results in my roommate thinking I have anger problems, but my team stays encouraging, or at least, not negative. A player is a lot more likely to tilt (that is, do progressively worse throughout the game) if their teammates are putting them down. Telling them that they’re doing bad, which hopefully they realize, isn’t going to help.
I once played a game with someone I hardly knew. We had a mutual friend, and every time we had spoke in person, he was very nice to me. I accepted a game invite with him and that mutual friend–which I soon regretted. I played the “support” role, which I wasn’t the most comfortable with, but it was all that was available. I was soon told that I wasn’t positioning myself correctly, that I wasn’t planting enough vision wards, and that I was getting in too close. These irritated comments that kept showing up in my chatbox started to make me nervous, and so I played worse. I started to feed the other team, and he was getting upset. Whenever he died, he had something to say to me, whether I was nearby him or not. We ended up losing, with me having the highest death count. Afterwards, our mutual friend apologized on his behalf, but it led me to never want to play with people I know again. The pressure of doing badly and irritating them is too much to handle.
Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends, are very much aware of this problem and have been tackling it non-stop since the game came to be. As Carl Kwoh, the producer of the game, tells Polygon.com, “We’ve looked at our own game and said ‘This is not a great experience and we want to try to handle this problem.'” One way this issues is addressed is the reporting system, which allows other players to report toxic players with a dropdown choice of options such as “abusive language, failure to communicate, intentional feeding” etc. Although this helps in getting the consistently toxic players banned from the game, by the time it comes to report, the game is already over and the damage is already done. Hopefully in the near future, the system for regulating these negative players will be a more effective one.
The mean comments of some random stranger thousands of miles away can roll off my back, but it does bring negative energy into my life. Whenever I play a game with nice people, win or lose, I had fun. I wish so badly that more games could be this way. So if you’re irritated with that person who buys the wrong items, doesn’t know their character, or is dying repeatedly, rage as much as you want. Just do your team a favor, and rage outside the chat. You just might end up winning after all.
The League of Legends team of scientists trying to cure ‘toxic behavior’ online. (2012, October 13). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from http://www.polygon.com/2012/10/17/3515178/the-league-of-legends-team-of-scientists-trying-to-cure-toxic