In this series of articles I want to cover in detail toxicity in gaming and why it is not being dealt with properly by any game currently. I am writing this partly to vent but mostly out of interest in creating a positive game experience for everyone.
The first thing I feel needs mentioning is that game developers have to acknowledge that if their games experience is being heavily effected by toxicity their game needs improving. You can have an incredibly well designed game which itself is built to provide the best possible game experience but if the players playing it are all complaining about each other something is wrong, the game needs to deal with this and in my personal opinion it should take precedent over anything else.
This is primarily going to be about League of Legends because LOL and MOBAs in general I feel have the biggest toxicity issues currently in gaming. As such you probably wont understand most of what Im talking about if you are not familiar with LOL.
Think of that feeling you get when you finish a game, thinking about your role in that game, how other players affected your mood, how balanced you think the game was. If you ask the average player about how a game went they will probably not give you a positive response because on the whole in most mobas toxicity is becoming an epidemic which more and more players are succumbing to. “x player fed”, “x player was AFK”, “x player was insulting everyone”.. the list goes on but generally it comes down to another player who has affected the game experience negatively.
So as an example lets imagine a typical team in League of Legends:
- Jungler – First up we have Jim, Jim is a hardcore gamer who has been playing lol for a few years. His goal is to play a fair game, improve his skill and hopefully win. He goes jungle and picks a champ that synergizes with their team composition. He watches all the LCS games.
- Mid – Next up we have John, John is more of a casual gamer who hasn’t been playing lol for very long. His goal is to enjoy and learn more about the game. He picks a champ that he’s played a few times, in champ select people complain but he doesn’t understand why. He isn’t familiar with meta and rarely watching LCS games.
- Top – James is a bit younger than the rest of the team. He wants to play riven because last game he was beaten overwhelmingly by a riven, therefore in his mind riven is just better than other champions. In champ select however another player has called top first, he doesn’t care and locks riven anyway because the role no-one called was support and support is not fun to play. His team complains in chat but eventually moves past it. Before the game has started 3 people have said they are reporting him, he doesn’t care though and proceeds to act negatively. James watches LCS occasionally, he runs smite top because he saw a pro do it successfully once.
- Support – Jason is another hardcore gamer. He calls top first but is instalocked out of his role by James. After a short drama in chat he accepts support reluctantly, a role which he isn’t fond of either.
- ADC – Jose is also a hardcore gamer. He is also an ADC main so he locks his favourite ADC which he has had several good games in recently. Jose also watches LCS games constantly and is familiar with the ADC role.
So how does the game play out?
- Jim as the best player starts off well and tries his best to keep people positive because he knows positivity wins games, his score stays positive and he has the potential to carry the game.
- John plays badly and is initially flamed by Jose and James constantly. He builds badly and dies constantly, his lack of skill essentially turns the game into a 4vs5 (at least in the minds of everyone else on his team).
- James dies to a jungle gank early on and flames Jim, he continues to push his lane aggressively and get ganked. He flames the enemy jungler and threatens to AFK if Jim doesn’t gank his lane.
- Jason tries his best to play support, a role he is not familiar with but inevitably is caught out of position several times, he is flamed heavily by Jose.
- Jose does reasonably well as a result of Jims bot lane gank focus but inevitably is dragged down as a result of bad attitude and some questionable support plays.
This is a fairly average game and what is the end result of it? Everyone is frustrated, No-one had a good game. The funniest thing is that in an average game this can happen on both teams, you will always have a James and a Jim followed by a combination of the the others on your team. So here’s the twist, they won the game. Jim despite his frustrations carried them through most of the game giving Jose time to catch up.
So finally how did everyone’s game play out?
- Jim as the most mature and skilled player was used to the scenario and powered though it. He ends the game happier because he won but still frustrated with the state of players he was forced to deal with, Jose has taken full credit for the victory which has caused Jim further frustration. Result: Minor frustration/Indifference Inpact on others: Heavily Positive
- James despite his threats to AFK stayed and eventually made some impact after laning phase. He continued to flame all game and reported all his teammates. He ends the game resentful of Jim who in his mind ruined his chance to carry the game. Result: Negative, will most likely roll onto next game.Impact on others: Heavily Negative
- John blissfully unaware of the negativity in chat continued to do badly but was carried heavily by Jim, later on he was able to take a few kills. He ends the game in ignorant bliss of the negativity he helped cause and will most likely play the same way in the following game. Result: Enjoyment. Impact on others: Slightly Negative
- Jason feels frustrated partly because of the abuse he received from Jose but also because he didn’t perform well. His lack of skill was magnified as his mood turned and as time went on he made more mistakes. Result: Unhappy, Insecure in his abilities. Impact on others: Positive
- Jose’s ego has pushed him to take full responsibility for the victory, he insists at the end of the game that he carried everyone and insists his support is reported. He flames Jim further then leaves. Result: Minor Enjoyment. Impact on others: Heavily Negative
So lets imagine that the average game plays out something like the above. For me as a Silver player this I can say with certainty is my average game. Some games are better (multiple Jims), and some games are worse (multiple James or Johns).
Next time I want to look at each of the issues that happened in this game in more detail.