Enough is Enough: Defending the League of Legends Community

You know what, I never thought I would be the guy writing this post. I don’t know if I was too embarrassed, too proud, or I agreed too much with the stuff that people were saying, but I never thought it would be me. Since then I’ve read a lot of negative stuff, seen people bash my game one too many times, and I have had enough. It’s time to stand up and say a little something different about the League of Legends community.

So why have I chosen now to take my stand? Well I guess the story the I am linking to you here was what kind of set things in motion. A dumb kid, who just happens to play League of Legends, is going through a nasty breakup and LoL is being highlighted because it is related to some of the stupid stuff he is doing. This set in motion a rather incredible movement by some gamers I follow on Twitter, who became determined to join LoL and essentially hunt this guy down. In the process, they decided to point out how nasty the community is, how crazy the community is etc. I think the following Tweet was the one that pushed me over the edge:

“BTW: Holy Batshit-cray-cray Batman…League of Legends community #SMH. Need I say more…they need to stop playing LOL and seek help. Srsly”

Those of you who follow this blog know exactly how I feel about my fellow LoLers, and I’m pretty sure many of you have similar feelings, that’s fine. A good hunk of what goes down in this community makes me mad and I would love to see players like the aforementioned XJ9 never play this game again.

It makes me sick to my stomach to see IWillDominate returning to the pro scene after his “year off” for being universally regarded as one of the nastiest players to ever play on the North American server. Too much crap goes on in game that is excused by the idea that the player is “having a bad day” or simply doesn’t know better. I know all of this, and I will be the first person to point that out.

I guess what bugs me is when people who have never really bothered to play the game decide to pick it up or try it out for a few days, pronounce it to be as horrible as everyone says and leave it at that. Then there are the people who are simply content to believe and spread the negative stereotypes they have heard about this game without ever trying it. When one of my fellow bloggers decided to give LoL a try I saw her Twitter post get quite a few messages telling her to run or avoid that garbage community – posts that were made by people who have probably never played the game.

For too long I was ok with this happening without challenging it, probably because I jokingly said a lot of the same stuff about this community to my friends who play or who were looking to start playing. Now I realize that when we let people freely say negative things about this community we are letting them lump all of us LoL players in with the likes of IWillDominate and XJ9. Or better yet, we are letting them call us stupid for continuing to put up with the darker elements of the community.

What they fail to understand, because many of them have never really spent any time in this community, is that everything that is rotten in LoL gets balanced out by the good things that happen. For every rage filled idiot you meet you also run into a nice kid from the other side of your country who likes to top lane. For every time you get called a noob you also get called a genius by a delightful blogger whose love of LoL brought you together. And for every bad game you have with random folks in solo que there’s an equal number of great games played with friends and randoms alike. Those of us who stick with LoL don’t do it because we are stupid or incapable of finding other games. We do it because we have found something here that we like, something that keeps us going.

It is also not as though many of us haven’t pushed Riot to try and make the game better. Popular support got the Tribunal system off and running and made people take the Honor system seriously (if only for a week). Riot clearly has some kind of interest in removing the darker elements of the community, and even when some of their initiatives stall, I have no doubt that many people in this community will keep pushing them to make things better. That proves to me that, beneath what is often a rotten exterior, this game has the same solid core of committed and positive gamers that every other gaming community has.

I could keep going on and on about things I like in LoL, but most of what you hear about the game in the general gaming community isn’t the positive stuff. I think a lot of this isn’t helped by the very nature of LoL itself. LoL  has become by far the biggest community, so it makes sense that the negative element will be quite large and draw a lot more attention than it would in other communities. If a player in another game does something stupid in his personal life, like XJ9, it doesn’t get the same kind of coverage because, and let’s be honest here, most of the eSports community’s attention is focused on LoL.

The nature of LoL is also quite conducive to negative behavior. Games with a steep learning curve almost always lead to early frustration. Throw together five random people who are at different points on that curve and there are bound to be some pretty nasty games to start things out. It also doesn’t help that LoL is, compared to shooters and many RTS games, slow paced enough that there is plenty of time for people to yell at each other.

This means that when people from other gaming communities come to try out LoL they are almost guaranteed a bad experience unless they are willing to strongly commit to learning the game. Not everyone has the time or will to do this, and they walk away and continue the cycle of talking about how horrible the game is.

It can be frustrating because I have noticed that this cycle has led to the stereotyping of LoL players even in the blogging community. There are still a large number of bloggers who don’t consider LoL and its community to be anything more than a bunch of angry kids whose only contribution to the world of gaming is to set records for the number of homophobic slurs used in a match. This view even gets applied to the people who write about LoL, I mean why would you waste your time writing about a community filled with angry kids? I believe this is why you didn’t see many of the well established gaming blogs talking about LoL in any serious capacity until it became so big it was hard to ignore.

You know what though, I do believe that we, the LoL community, are responsible for the fact that LoL continues to get such a bad rep. We stay quiet when people badmouth the game either because we are embarrassed to say we play it or because we hate the people they are complaining about even more than they do. What we need to remember is that when we sit silently by we are also letting these badmouthers put down our friends and all of the other great people we know who play LoL. Oh, and we are also letting them put us down for even associating with the game. This is something we need to stop letting them do.

We also need to try to be more welcoming of new people who want to try the game out. Unfortunately, LoL will never be as easy to pick up as shooters or other games that are easy to get started in but hard to master. I’m not saying that we need to take every new player by the hand and show them the ropes, but if you see on Twitter or Facebook that someone is looking to start playing the game definitely don’t hesitate to shoot them a few tips. I will be writing a guide for getting started playing the game, and I hope you will all consider doing the same thing.

If writing isn’t your style then try to find a beginners guide that you like, and have it handy. There is no way we will be able to improve the experience of everyone who is looking to try LoL for the first time, but if we can make it easier for even a few people to play then hopefully we can begin to break away some of the negative stigma surrounding this game.

I have spent far too long trying to pretend I am not a member of the LoL community. I play the game, I write about it, but I tried to distance myself from the community just enough that I wouldn’t be considered a rager or a dumb kid. I realize now that this is the wrong position.

By pretending to not be a member of the community, I was giving strength to the argument that the only thing the community is made up of are ragers and dumb kids. What I should be supporting is the idea that this community is made up of people who design their own champions, people who dress up as their favorite laners and people who love to write about a game that has them so intrigued and interested. People just like me.

I am proud to be a member of the League of Legends community, and the next time you see someone try and put this community down, you tell them to come meet me and the thousands of others just like me. Enough of XJ9. Enough of IWillDominate. WE are the LoL community!

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5 thoughts on “Enough is Enough: Defending the League of Legends Community

  1. I think you are right. While the gentleman in question’s behavior is reprehensible, it has absolutely nothing to do with League of Legends. He’s not the first nor the last person to revenge post pictures of an ex, and doing so is only indicative of his own lack of maturity and a single way that people misuse the power of internet communities.

    Still, League of Legends as a community is held back by the competitive play that the game supports and promotes at every turn. When you have people who are so wound up, so serious, AND anonymous, it will always be a recipe for disaster. When you put egos on the line, even outside of a professional sports environment, feelings will get hurt and assholes will be assholes.

    I personally would love to see some options outside of competitive play for players to aspire. An achievement system might be one option. Reward players with special skins and icons for successfully fulfilling certain in-game goals across the the game’s various modes that are not at all tied to competitive play.I know that there is a positive group of League players and fans who, instead of obsessing over their rank, obsess over special fan projects and what skins their favorites will get next. Riot has done a great job highlighting these people, but maybe it is time they gave them some sort of end game to shoot for?

  2. Pingback: Link Dead Radio: Interviews, Community, and Bureaucracy Simulators | Healing the masses

  3. Normally when I play online games like these I am a fairly consistent contributor to the Community. LOL on the other hand I just can’t really get adjusted to and feel apart of the community. Maybe it’s cause all the players I meet are ultra serious about competitive play (that’s fine) but it tends to lead alot of them to be rude and obnoxious and potentially scare away new players when they first come onto the Forums.

    I see a lot on the forums when a newbie posts a query or idea, you can guarantee that instead of looking at the idea, critically looking at its virtues and faults and explaining that to the newbie, we see one-liners that shutdown this creativity and innovation and you never hear from these players again.

    It might not be for Riot, but for smaller gaming outfits this is bad policy.

    • My apologies for the late reply but this is very well said. I guess this is what happens when you have such a variety of skill and maturity levels amongst the players. It’s tough, and it can really be limiting

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