Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Riot Games Fosters the Worst Online Community In League of Legends

The title of this article is a little harsh.  The worst online community?  Fosters?  I firmly believe in both of those words being an accurate representation of the current state of the League of Legends (LoL) community.

It is without a doubt the worst community I have had the displeasure of dealing with.  Yet I keep going back, again and again, hoping things will change, because LoL is ultimately a fun game that I enjoy playing - regardless of some people's efforts to ensure that I have a bad experience.

Before I start, full disclosure:  I have had my account banned for a total of ~2 weeks throughout my 2000+ game career in LoL.  My actions pertaining to those bans made them completely justified, and I can only describe those actions as 'losing my shit' on a teammate (or opponent) for one of the many reasons I'll list below.

These are in no particular order - feel free to add your own comments at the bottom of this, I'm more than happy to discuss everything I've written in this article.

And here it is, my list of reasons why the community in LoL is an atrocity, and how to fix most of the problems:

Games on Summoners Rift take (on average) 45 minutes or longer to play.

By far the most popular game type; between a minute or so spent in the queue, banning, champion select, queue dodges, more queue dodges, and the loading screen games take a serious time commitment to complete, even if your team surrenders at 20 minutes.

I've been gaming for a long time, and even when I'm really into another game, I often find myself bringing up my email on another monitor, or chatting with a friend, wasting time on facebook, etc.  Aside from LoL, I probably NEVER devote a solid 45 minutes to just the game I'm playing without any distractions.

Listing this isn't very constructive, as LoL is currently the #1 video game in the world for good reasons, the game play.  Shortening games would ruin that to one extent or another.  But it's important to understand the commitment to a game of LoL when understanding why the community is the way it is.

I'm relying on 9 other people in order to ensure my game play experience is positive.

Unless you're raiding, it's rather unlikely that you play games where your enjoyment of that game lies squarely on the shoulders of nine other players for the duration of the session.  Got a bad teammate that refuses to not try and 1v5 the other team?  Too bad, you lose the game, and at least half an hour of your life.

Even if its an opponent that AFK's or disconnects from the game, making it an easy win - plenty of players have a problem with that.  I play LoL because I like the competitive edge of it - I enjoy a good, challenging win.  And while I'll take a free bump in ranking any way I can get it, it never feels quite right.

Again, another inherent game design mechanic that can not be changed - yet one that adds to the frustration factor.  At any point, you are only 10% in control of what's currently occurring in the match.

The game does next to nothing in promoting good behavior.

As I mentioned, I've been banned a few times.  I learned my lesson after the last one, which arguably cost me a gold ranking in the 2nd season of the game (I ended up being banned for the last few weeks, even though the season was extended, ending up ~3-4 games short).

But what about my behavior since then?  I've conformed and been a better player - I've even gone so far as to be helpful to my teammates after a game is over, to help them understand what they did wrong.  Yet, there's no reward.  (is the reward not being banned again?)

I agree that a system rewarding multiple-ban accounts having now-beneficial behavior since their ban can be abused - but this is a free to play game.  If all I wanted to do was slaughter teams, I'd keep making low-level accounts and continue to not care if I got banned.  A reward in the form of a small IP bonus for completing X games without being reported would go a long way.

"Hey, you've clearly made a change in your behavior.  This marks your 10th game without being reported to the Tribunal, here's 100 IP as a reward.  Keep up the good work!"

Even if people wanted to abuse that system, they could only do it so much - and would need to actually get banned in the first place and not play the game, in order to get the small IP rewards.  That would be super counter productive, and pointless.

Riot allows anyone that has reached level 30 to play in ranked games.

I was there when level 20's could play in pre-season 1.  And it was a disaster.  But throwing someone who just reached level 30 into the competitive mix is equally as insane.  There is no possible way a player, having just reached level 30, is experienced enough to play in a competitive environment, even a casual one.

As of this writing, there are ~100 champions.  Each one has at least 4 abilities, a handful of potential (viable) builds, and a few different roles they can assume.

In a ranked game, you can't come into the queue only knowing one role, having a handful of rune sets for an obscure amount of characters, and then insisting you're going to support with Master Yi because that's all you've got and you were last pick.  "Thanks for telling us that before hand."

There is a tremendous amount of knowledge needed to make ranked games in LoL enjoyable for the other 9 people involved in your match.  Ranked games shouldn't be a place to learn the game - yet almost every match below 1400 rating you see a player attempting to do so.

While there is no way to impose a "You must win 20 games in top lane, middle lane, as a jungler, adc, and support," before entering the ranked queue, there is a minimum games won limit that you can impose on a player entering the ranked queue.  I'd like to see it set at (least) 150 games won.  Yes, most casual players will not get there for awhile.  That's the point.

There also needs to be some way to ensure that the player has enough runes to play all the potential roles in the game, although I'm not even going to try and get specific on that.

There is no punishment for consistently performing poor in ranked, except for loss in the rating system (ELO).

Isn't ELO loss enough?  No, because people that are just experimenting with ranked and not trying to be competitive don't care that they lose ELO.  They just want to play the game and if they get a high rating, that's great - one more thing to brag about. 

I propose two new rules:

The first is for loss-streaks.  Some players get unlucky, others are just so horrendous at the game that they give up five minutes in after a discouraging early tower dive, and the rest of the team has to suffer the result.

I propose that at a loss streak of 5 games, you receive a simple message along the lines of; "You've now lost five consecutive ranked games.  Please consider taking a break for a game or two and attempt to hone your skills in the normal game queue."

After a loss of 8 games, disable the ranked queue until they win a normal game (or a period of time elapses, say 2 hours) - MAKE them take a break rather then further frustrate themselves or their teammates.

Enforce accordingly for repeat offenders.  With this system, it's possible to lose dozens of ranked games in a row - losing 16 games in a row would require 2 normal wins in order to re-open the ranked queue.  24 games, 3 wins, etc.  (not consecutive wins, just unranked, normal, wins in general, custom games never apply to this)  OR enforce a ranked-queue lock timer of appropriate length.

The second is for players that are unable to maintain a connection, repeatedly AFK in multiple games, or post high death scores multiple times in a given period (lets use 24 hours.)

For the purposes of point #2, completely ignore that players can be reported for leaving the game/afk, that's not good enough.  If a player receives the LEAVER status, or is reported by more than 49% of the players in a game as a leaver/afk, they receive a flag.  If they do it again that day, disable ranked for an hour.  If they do it again, disable ranked for the rest of the day.  If they do it the next day, disable it for a week and ban them from the game for a day.  If they do it the day it's enabled again, permaban them from ranked.

Truthfully, I don't care why you can't keep a connection - the fact is that you can't.  Don't come into the ranked queue and expect people not to rage when you intentionally throw games by either disconnecting, or playing when you know you might disconnect.  Eliminate the problem at the source.

What this comes down to is ridding the ranked queue of people that can not properly deal with the time commitment, or do not possess the internet connection needed to play the game.  These people do not belong in an environment that is attempting to foster a competitive atmosphere.

The same system would be in effect for players suffering 15+ deaths in multiple ranked games daily, albeit to lesser consequences.  Yes, I understand that sometimes you get singled out; "Soraka didn't take any escapes and keeps over extending, get her!" but I'm a firm believer that there is absolutely NO reason why a player should have 15+ deaths in a ranked game - the example above happens SO rarely that a surrender almost certainly occurs in every instance before the death count gets that high.

Example scenario:  First ranked game of the day you go X/17/X, you receive a warning - "Hey, stop fucking around."  Second ranked game, X/15/X, "Take a break and go play a normal game, the ranked queue is disabled for 24 hours, or until you complete a game through the normal queue."  If they play a normal game and then come back to ranked and go X/15+/X again, disable ranked for 48 hours, and increase it by 24 hour increments.  Eventually they'll realize they need to practice before they attempt to be competitive.

The ranked rating system is strictly based on winning or losing, and does not factor individual performance into a rating loss.

It's aggravating that in a 40 minute game, I can be 11/3/X, have a team mate quit because they didn't get blue buff, and then still lose a normal amount of ELO.  I did my part, and upheld the Summoner's Code.  *I* didn't lose that game, my jerk teammate did.  And while reporting them is a solution that sees results (albeit slowly and inconsistently at times), it doesn't compensate me for nearly an hour of my life wasted in that game.

Now I need to go play another game just to get that rating back?  And you expect me not to rage?

You have to be careful about this and how you fix it - but it needs to be fixed.

I'm not saying the best performer on the losing team should get a rating gain, but they should get something for their time.

I propose a voting system that will fix this problem entirely, one that is 100% impossible to abuse.

Each team votes on the other team's MVP at the end of a match - the vote is mandatory, you must vote for someone before you can leave the lobby at the end of the game unless ALL players agree that the entire team was at fault for the loss, unanimously.

So the losing team would also do the same.  Arbitrary example:

Players 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 play a game against players 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.  The 1-5 team loses the game.

Players 1-5 would vote on the MVP of the winning team (since team 1-5 lost), in this case, they vote for player 8.  He receives a 50% bonus to his ranking gain for that game (instead of gaining 12 ELO, he gains 18)

At the same time, players 6-10 would vote on the MVP of the losing team, in this case, player 2.  He receives a 50% reduction in rating loss for that game (instead of losing 12 ELO, he loses 6.)

You could half the result for the runner-up to the MVP, giving them a 25% reduction and bonus, respectively.

This system would be completely disabled for full pre-made team ranked queues, (5v5's, 3v3's) for obvious reasons.

Since you do nothing to control the vote on your team, the system is 100% abuse proof.  You're voting on randomly matched up strangers and awarding them for their game play, regardless of ultimately winning or losing the game.

Completely disable cross-team chat in ranked games, never allow it to be turned on again.

Riot is so adamant about reforming their community that they hired all kinds of experts for ideas - yet didn't bother to take obvious steps.  Sure, cross-team chat is disabled by default - but trolls and angry/upset players don't care about that.  They enable it in one click and lash out.  Don't give them the opportunity and there won't be a problem.

Yes, I realize that they can still lash out at their own team.  Disabling same-team chat is an appealing option, but not a very good one - forcing people to coordinate via pings alone isn't an option.  Again, this is where the Tribunal comes in.

There is no reason why one team would need to talk to the other during a ranked game.  Not to be 'sportsmanlike', or to congratulate them, or to tell them that the river's warded and support Yi is right behind them meditating to save his life.  God I hate support Yi.

Instantly ban people using obvious profane language in-game as soon as their game ends and they exit the post game lobby.

Don't ban them forever, let's say 30 minutes for the first offense - multiply it if they keep it up. 

There is no reason the n-word should ever be typed in League of Legends, in any way or combination of characters.  There are easy ways to flag and detect it, and that technology is off-the-shelf available.  The same with most of the other vulgarity in most languages.  I guarantee you had I seen that technology implemented the first time I swore, I never would've been banned in LoL.  Ever.

But what about people that do something like "".  Short answer - that's what the tribunal is for.  Long answer, people are creative - but this immediately punishes the ones that aren't, or the ones that test the waters to see what they can get away with.  If they know they can't do it, the possibility they'll keep doing it becomes much more narrow.

So I've written this, and it's already way too long to be posted on my blog - yet I'm posting it anyway.  I've got many more ideas, and maybe after the holidays I'll put together some more articles on them.  Until then, let me know what you think about what I have so far.


  1. You could say the same thing about Black Ops 2, Go on that game and you are going to be consistently yelled at my 12 years olds and adults.

    The difference in lol is that when someone flames you they can see every action you took so when they flame you most of the time they are right. So you take it more personally then you would in other games and it may seem like its worse.

    As far as new players in ranked I think it all balances its self out in the long run. Going into season 3 I had got myself down to 1250 just by playing dumb, after the start of the rating wipe I was able to get back to 1400~ within 20 games which I think is my true elo right now. I'm sure I can get higher but once you've reached close to where u should be you are that 20% of your team. At the 1250 rating I found myself brute forcing myself to wins all the time just 1v5ing the other team.

    Riot has tried pretty damn hard to make the community better, more then any other game producer. They've introduced the tribunal system, they just started the honoring system which I think has made a huge impact. Yesterday I played a game with a Jax on my team that was flaming our team and the other. I told him I was gonna report him and he apologized and said he was having a bad day. In turn I didn't report him. I don't think the lol community is any worse they any other games but the fact that the people on both teams can see your actions exactly as you can make it more personal.

  2. Well said and agreed all around.

  3. derp, make it not free to play, fixed

  4. derp, won't/can't/shouldn't happen. not fixed.

  5. Sometimes these communities are friendly: just players coming together to enjoy a video game. Other times... well, they aren't so friendly, a person's behavior, online or off, is directly influenced by their surroundings, there are no hard and fast rules one can follow to ensure that people play nice.

    Btw nice blog, I was checking some articles, can you please re upload this video: vehicle because it’s removed.


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