I’m relatively new to the concept of esports, games that feature professionally ranked teams who make a living out of competing in tournaments for large prizes. In fact, I’m actually a spring chicken when it comes to competitive games in general. My only experience in multiplayer gaming has been MMORPGs, and the closest I’ve ever been to competitive was racing other guilds for bosses in EverQuest back in the day. Which is why I’m found myself enamored and equally frustrated with League of Legends.
The concept sounds simple, especially if you’ve ever played the Defense of the Ancients (Dota) map in Warcraft. You have some minions, you gotta kill the other team and their minions, you have to defeat their towers while protecting your own, and you have to destroy the enemy team’s base (the Nexus) to ultimately win. You play a champion (there are 100 to choose from) and you have 4 abilities that are enhanced by purchasing gear with the gold you earn from completing objectives within the game. However, it’s actually an incredibly nuanced game. There are concepts such as last hitting, split pushing, zoning your opponents, a metagame to study, and countless other advanced concepts that no level 1 player will understand without some guidance. But who should be providing that guidance?
In League of Legends, when anyone makes a mistake it is always the first reaction from the team to insult that player and shame them for what they did. Rarely do you hear someone give constructive feedback that will teach the player what they did wrong. Instead you’ll be called a noob, told that you suck at the game, and occasionally reported for being a “bad player”. I’ve had times where I’ve said to people, “hey this is my first time playing Sejuani in the jungle, let me know if I should be doing anything different” and I’ll be told that I’m stupid for picking that champion. There will be some particularly bad games where no matter what I do, I’m insulted for it. Particularly when playing a support character whose role is to buff and heal my teammates, I will often hear that I’m doing things wrong. Know what? I probably am. In fact, I’m sure I’m doing things wrong. But how much research should I be expected to do outside of a game just to play the game without suffering through vitriol and hate speech from my team?
I’ve come to love the “ignore” functionality, but I know I’m just masking a problem at large. I do understand that in competitive environments, people want to win games. You can’t win when someone on your team is doing things wrong. I just don’t understand why the first place that people go to is one of hatred and shame. Telling me that I’m bad at the game isn’t going to help me learn, it’s not going to help us win the game. It’s more likely to frustrate me more, causing me to make silly mistakes that I wouldn’t normally make if I didn’t feel that I was bringing the team down. When I catch one of my teammates saying something mean, I try to follow it up with something nice and encouraging, but I’m definitely in the minority there.
I’m not sure why I continue to play League of Legends, because it’s actually a spiteful place to be at times. (Note: I’ve heard that it’s one of the better games of the MOBA genre to play, and that Heroes of Newerth is even worse). I enjoy the game when I feel like my tactical strategies are working, and I love trying out new champions and learning how to master them. I do read guides online and watch streams of the professional players so that I have a working knowledge of the game. I’m just finding that more often than not, it’s a depressing place to spend my evenings. I end up logging off at midnight wishing that I’d played a solo RPG, somewhere where I can be alone and do things the way I want to do them. For someone with anxiety issues (like myself) it’s certainly not therapeutic to be ridiculed all evening. Yet I keep going back, and keep wishing that League of Legends would become a more friendly and accepting place for newbies and those who might not be as skilled.
How do you all handle the raging and insults when you play competitive online games?