I have been playing League of Legends recently. It is an entertaining game that you can play pretty casually (hey – it’s free to play too) but that also allows you to invest time and energy into mastering if you wish to.
Penny Arcade recently wrote about some peole playing the game having an attitude problem. How abusive language and zero tolerance was the norm amongst especially people playing the game on a competitive level. I’ve seen the term “toxic players” pop up in a lot of debates on the subject.
The thing is that you very often play with other players and very often also against other players. League of Legends is a game where fraction-of-a-second reactions matter quite a lot and where missing your chance or getting killed has a very direct effect on the people on your team. As such it’s easy for tempers to flare and a direct result is a culture where people lash out at other players who exhibit poor “skills”. The fear of messing up and being on the recieving end of the scorn is ever present and as such it’s safer to participate in piling abuse on others. The system enforces itself and results in opinions such as this:
There is – of course – more flaws in the reasoning behind this statement than there is fish in the sea (is that statement even usable since we have basically depleted the oceans by now?) but it gives a good idea of what the culture is like. Skill and accomplishment is everything. Respect is something you take from others and if the issue of this culture being problematic in itself is brought up the symptomatic response is this:
If you do not wish to be harassed simply turn off the chat. Shifting blame for the abuse onto the victim is the solution of many abusive systems and individuals.
In order to counteract this mentality League of Legends has a complicated system of reports, banned accounts and warnings. A system that so far has not been entirely immune to abuse since it asks player to uphold the justice themselves.
So LoL is an entertaining game – moving from playing with AI’s and into playing against and with other people can be a daunting experience. Harassment is – literally – a game relevant term and – sadly – the culture for it is supported by the nature of both gameplay and community.