Expanding upon "How do I deal with online trolling/harassment in video games?" by discussing a specific case.

I keep hearing about ongoing toxicity issues with the LoL player community, with a disproportionate number of users engaging in harassment, bullying, and other hostile conduct towards other players. This is despite Riot Games implementing numerous mitigation techniques, up to and including near-immediate suspensions or bans against players found to be acting uncivilly.

To promote a better understanding of this behavior and prevent this from happening in other communities, what specific reasons are there for this toxicity? Based on these reasons, what possible solutions are there? I'd like to see answers that focus on the moderator side of community building.

Please bear in mind that I'm looking for specific reasons, not speculation or discussion that fails to address the question.

  • 1
    It's fun to be a jerk and many players simply enjoy getting a rise out of other players in any way they can. – Michael Frank May 19 '15 at 10:55
  • 1
    Do you want to see some solutions to particular reasons? Or are you satisfied with a list of reasons? Are you okay with a comparison between other games which are having the same troubles? – Zerotime May 19 '15 at 17:22
  • 1
    I'm looking for reasons and possible solutions from a moderator's standpoint. A comparison is appropriate, as long as it's relevant. – bwDraco May 19 '15 at 17:24
  • 1
    @DragonLord, it's been a few days since you asked this and I see there hasn't been much response. It's possible the question is to specific. I am an avid gamer, but I am not a member of any LoL communities, thus I can't speak to their specific environment. Do you have specific examples you can share? Perhaps some of the situations are generic enough that other games and gaming communities have encountered them and can provide some answers for you. – Andy May 24 '15 at 3:44
  • 1
    @Andy: While I don't actually play LoL, I have some friends that do and one of them says that he has to report a player three or four times out of ten. The problem often manifests itself as other players posting harassing messages in chat during or after a game. In addition, there are situations, especially at lower levels of play, where a player will intentionally sabotage their team by aiding the opposing side (griefing). While griefing is by no means a new issue in online gaming, this and other similar problems are particularly widespread in LoL. – bwDraco May 24 '15 at 11:24
up vote 15 down vote accepted

You picked a game that is infamous for its toxic and impolite community. Amongst other genres, the MOBA genre itself has a problem with unfriendly communities, it's not just an issue which occurs to League of Legends.

MOBA games usually are free to play so they attract many players, especially the ones who can't afford an AAA title, e.g. younger players. League of Legends also has the advantage that you can pick it up more easily. This allows a lot of more casual players to play the game since they have the same gaming experience as other players who invest more time into the game. This, together, results in the massive stats which are produced by the game. A short summary:

It's a widely known and played game which has a lot of young and casual players.

This is the first reason why the community is so toxic: Younger players just haven't learned how to control their emotions yet so they accidentally disturb the experience during playing. Whilst most young players don't do it on purpose, there indeed are player who do it on purpose as mentioned by @MichaelFrank. It's a cool and common thing to do - it shows some kind of braveness to do it, also it's a way to show off your creative ways of offending and insulting. (You may not believe it, but some youngsters are competing about the "best" insult.)

Another reason is the multi culture aspect in the game. This thing basically affects every multiplayer and co-op game. You are thrown into a game with people of different nationalities. Communication differs from nation to nation so misunderstandings are to be expected. Although player A just meant to be funny by saying "You little ass :D", it's misunderstood by player B, who received it differently.

And if the multi culture aspect matters, so does the age difference between players, too. Older players usually are more polite towards the community, while younger players like to say things straight. This can lead to some serious problems because older players might see their straight way of communication as an offend. Would you rather receive feedback more politely or more directly?

The polite way:

Oh, that way messed up over there. Can you do things like that the next time, please? It would really help to win this game.

The direct way:

You fucked up there.

This can result in problems since not everyone wants to receive direct feedback.

The culture and the age difference of gamers matter since they affect the way of communication and the play style.

The casual players are a "problem", too. What do casual players do? They play. Why? Because they want to have fun as fast as possible. They don't want to hear your elaborated strategy, they don't want to play a support who sacrifices his gold for the sake of the team, they want to go on a rampage by killing as many player as possible. Of course they are happy if everything works out just fine but if not, beware, it's all your fault! Admitting faults is way harder than blaming others.

Casual players want to have fun as soon as possible. If something goes wrong, it hurts their goal of happiness.

One more serious problem is racism. I bet every gamer came across a situation where was said:

All (add nationality) players are bad because the player I met the match before was bad.

Well, often people with Russian names are insulted when the game starts because there are a lot of Russian players, hence there are a lot of not so good players too. Also, there are players who are a little bit unforgiving for historic actions done in the past, e.g. Segregation, Holocaust. They will always will call you a (add any kind of insult) for something not being relevant to the (most) games.

Racism is a problem in the gaming world as it's in the real.

I'm really sure that there are other reasons too but I wanted to share some possible solutions for the reasons I mentioned.

As always: Don't feed the troll. It seems so basic but it truly is a time and nerve saver. However, this is how users may handle it since they lack moderator power to punish people - ignoring most likely leads to a lack of interest of the troll.

If you come across a possible game disturber, mediate between concerned users, rules and the user itself. Show him that there are rules for the game and that users might get upset if you're not following them. Add a report function which works as following:

  • Everyone has access to it.
  • Everyone is allowed to report.
  • Reports for exact rules violations.
  • User gets punished if reported several times.

A punishment mustn't occur if the player got reported just once. A report may happen out of hatred and emotional things so it's important to protect users.

Set up preferences for users so they join games which are hosted on servers in their country where they can meet users of their country. If you can destroy the confusion about communication between users of different nationalities, you will receive less reports. Nevertheless, it's somewhat difficult because you don't want to limit them to predefined servers, you just recommend them to do so. If they feel like playing on another server, you mustn't take actions against this desire, it's their good right to join whatever server they like to. Still, you can remind them that they are playing with other people of another country so they should (must) speak a language which is widely known in this community. If they hinder their team by speaking in an inappropriate way, you should make an example and ban the particular user to his "home" server.

Search for other gamers that share the same point of view as you. You aren't able to play peacefully if you play, as a casual, with a professional players. That won't happen due to the different points of view. A casual player wants to have fun, a professional wants to win. Don't go in with more serious players if you aren't really interested in game tactics and strategies, otherwise it'll just harm the team.

@Carl said that the topic is really lengthy. It indeed is. I can't tell you all the reasons with the time I have, but I think I covered the most common things.

  • Two other reasons I want to add: It's a game of proving how good someone is. One game resolves in one loss or a win. So when there are 4 other team members who can be responsible for winning/losing, it is much more easy to look for a scapegoat than to reflect it to oneself. | Then most of these games are for free. If you don't pay for something, you are much more likely to not put effort in it, but still you want to get satisfied from a game (a game defines itself to have fun with it for me). So when dreams are not fulfilled, someone has to be responsible for it. :) Great answer though! – Trollwut Jun 9 '15 at 14:30

Try to keep statistics in perspective. If you play 2 games you have had on your team 9 different people and 10 other people on the other team. Just with pure numbers if you have 1 truly bad behaved person in those 2 games you are running a 11% of the population rate if you only include your team and almost 5% if you include both teams.

From the perspective of a person investing 45 minutes of their time into a game 1 in 2 games having an unbearable troll is overwhelming. However, 11% of the population (especially considering the make up of this population) is actually not any worse than a high school classroom and probably better.

So, from a simple numbers perspective it isn't that toxic - especially given the platform when compared to other online platforms like twitter (think of the Microsoft bot which learned to be a pretty rude personality just from twitter alone).

As to why it is somewhat simple:

  1. Anonymity

  2. Stress release from real life

  3. Competitive gaming

  4. Differences in culture / What is funny and acceptable

  5. Immaturity or inability to manage frustrations

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.