When you’ve played League of Legends for as long as I have, you end up seeing a lot of stuff. People telling people to kill themselves, people threatening to kill other people, homophobic slurs, racial slurs it’s all there. In the midst of it all, you always kind of find yourself wondering “I know this is bad, but what is it that sets it apart from other games/sports whatever in terms of how toxic the community is?” Then, today, it finally hit me. It’s the victim blaming.
Let’s say you’re walking down a street and you see an elderly lady getting mugged. The unwritten rules of our society basically state you should probably try to help the old lady. Failing that, we’re kind of ok with you at least trying to get her help. We’re not so keen on you walking away, but if the situation looks dangerous enough we’ll even excuse that.
Video games kind of have the same unwritten code for when you see someone getting bullied or harassed. If you see it, we’re pretty cool with you trying to stand up for the person. We’re still pretty cool if you don’t say anything but perhaps offer some comforting words or a report after the game. And you know what, in many games I’ve played a lot of people will do just that. If you see a troll on the other team or it becomes clear that someone else is getting verbally abused or what not, most gamers will at least empathize with their situation. “Sorry friend, that sucks, I’ll send a report.” We know we can’t necessarily stop the harassment but at least we try and minimize the damage and give the person a bit of comfort.
Enter the League community. In this community, what the rest of society and the gaming community might considered an acceptable response to bullying and harassment gets thrown out the window. You’re happy when the people around you stay silent when you are being harassed because more often than not everyone else in the game (both teammates and opponents alike) will join in against the person being abused. Instead of offering comforting words to a new player who is being abused, the average league player seems to feel the need to join in the ridiculing of that player. Going back to my old lady being mugged analogy, the League of Legends community would be the person who saw the mugging happening and decided it would be fun to go and give the old lady a kick for themselves. Yup, it can get that bad.
Honestly, I’m really not sure why it has come to this. Why people seem more likely to attack someone who is already being victimized than to attempt to come to their defence or offer some kind words. Is it really that hard to stick up for someone or at least try and minimize the damage done by the actions of some other dick?
Fellow gamers, the one thing I ask of you is to not let your game’s community reach this level. Stand up for those being bullied, abused, harassed. Make it so that the trolls/bullies are the ones who feel isolated and alone, not the players who are already being attacked. When we started playing games, I like to believe that this was the norm. That may be naive, and that’s fine, but i still believe it’s something worth striving for and in games not called League of Legends I believe it’s still something that can be attained.