A game that's taken the world by storm and has become a staple in eSports competitions in every region, League of Legends has become not only one of the best MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games to date, but has amassed a huge community and following behind it. From merchandise, to fanart and YouTube videos, just about everyone has either heard about League of Legends in some way, shape or form.
As a frequent player, I often find myself at a crossroad with how I feel about the game. While I love the game in itself and I enjoy playing hilarious matches with friends, I can find myself at the receiving end of in-game abuse from another player, leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth. What can start off as a wonderful experience can turn into an absolute mess of insults and rage in seconds. The real question is, can the League of Legends community change?
League of Legends Community - Now
Currently, the League of Legends community fits into a stereotypical mish-mash of passionate, sportsman-like players and toxic, 'salty', hate-filled players. The sportsman-like players spend their time helping new players get accustom to the game - what champions to play, what items to buy and how to place a ward in the right position. On the other hand, hate-filled players would rather spend their time, instead of making the game an enjoyable experience for everyone, making each and every game an experience that would resemble you hitting your head repeatedly on a desk for 5 hours straight - and with some of the insults I've seen, you might want to do that in order to comprehend what they are trying to say. In the world of multiplayer gaming, this is fairly common - the sportsman-like players and hate-filled players living in balance...but League of Legends, along with other MOBA games, are a little bit different.
Hate-filled players are rampant through the community, making the game less and less enjoyable, even with friends in your party. No matter how much you try to ignore the sheer idiocy that spouts from their keyboard onto your screen, you can't help but slowly become more and more angry or sad with each message that's sent. You mute them, hoping that they'll go back to playing normally, but further into the game you inevitably hear, "A summoner has disconnected", or my personal favourite, "An ally has been slain" over and over again, signalling your team's defeat, and leaving you with your face in the palm of your hand.
The Riot Games Solution
In an effort to stomp out the rampant negativity flowing through the community, Riot Games have implemented two different systems within League of Legends in order to highlight players that happen to be overly negative, and punishes them harder than an over-extended champion in lane against an oncoming Jungler.
The Tribunal system gives power to the players to set the standard of what behaviour is acceptable in a League of Legends game, and what behaviour is deemed unacceptable. Players are able to report negative players that they encounter in games, and the Tribunal system will hand out punishments accordingly. These punishments can range from:
- Warnings - pop up in-game or email to warn players that they have been reported for negative behaviour
Low priority queues - making players wait for extended periods of time before being able to join a game
- Chat restrictions - restricting the number of in-game messages that a player can send
- Name change - player's screen name is changed
- Suspension - player's account is temporarily banned
- Ban - having a player's account permanently banned
LeaverBuster is another feature that Riot Games has implemented to identify players that go away from keyboard (AFK), leave the game, or rage quit. The punishments for either one of these offenses are a warning, and then an imposed wait time before being able to join another game - both of which are aimed at halt the gameplay destroying experience of having players leave.
Social Change Solution
Both of these systems have been relatively successful in cutting down negativity and unsportsman-like behaviour left, right and center. But are these the best solutions to combat negativity in the League of Legends community? Let's look at what Riot Lyte, Lead Game Designer of Social Systems, said about this:
We know the Tribunal is a powerful way for the community to decide what behaviors are acceptable during a League of Legends match. However, the Tribunal's main weakness is the speed of its feedback loops. It might take a month or more to feel the consequence of an action, making the Tribunal less effective than it could be.
(source: The Tribunal in OCE)
Even with these systems in place, the League of Legends community still remains as negative as ever, with more and more players being turned off the idea of playing another game with toxic players and rage quitters. Although these systems set up punishments to deter players from committing any offenses, the League of Legends community needs to change socially in order to break free from this loop of negativity. It needs to break away from all the swearing, toxicity and other unacceptable behaviour. While Riot Games have a reward system in place for those few sportsman-like players, the League of Legends community still has a long way to go before it is truly the welcoming, friendly, competitive community it should be.