Dear GhostCrawler...

**I'll start off by saying that I feel like shit. I can't help it. So I'll vent my frustrations from the feeling that I've wasted years of my life on this game by not bothering to format this letter properly, after having already spent so much time on it. This is the last bit of my energy. So please, bear with me.** In designing systems, it may be the case some of the time that the unsaid and unseen are neglected in favor of a focus on the most visible or apparent parts of the system. In doing so, we run the risk of over-fitting our predictions about player experience based on numerical (and inaccurate) representations of such at the expense of the actual player experience which is more subjective in nature. What exactly do I mean? Well, the "most visible" parts include... **Ease of Access (UI)** -Is it easy to start a game? Are the labels and buttons clear? Is the interface reliable? Is it confusing? **Champion-Specific Gameplay** -Does said champion allow opponents room for reactionary "counter" play? Does champion fit their intended theme and/or role plus perhaps even more (macro-level gameplay nuances, off-build friendliness, etc.)? The data related to these parts of the experience may give us precise values related to these visible parts of the player experience, but could it be possible that the player experience is made less memorable and/or enjoyable as a result of tinkering with the game based on such figures? Could it be that the numbers give us precision in the wrong areas? Are they misleading? Less visible parts, for example, may include... **Human Behavior on the Internet** -How do humans behave on the Internet in contrast with how they behave "IRL"? Should we even begin to try to alter their behavior, given the relative novelty and recency of this phenomenon of interconnected anonymity? **Ideological Diversity on the Internet** -What kinds of Internet personalities are "acceptable"? Do we claim to know enough about people, or the Internet, to interfere with the natural way of things as they occur in these Internet communities? In doing so, might we be missing, or perhaps even destroying, something important? If we label one group of outspoken, emotional players as "toxic", do we indirectly favor indirectly "toxic" players who are less honest in their intentions (and perhaps in their communications)? These less visible parts, I argue, may in fact be critical to the healthy functioning of the system, even if they are seldom explicitly mentioned (because they're experienced). And it is my fair belief that neglect of these components of the system is detrimental to the health of the system overall. They too, are inseparable parts of the whole, and it's necessary for designers to take a holistic perspective of the system(s) they're responsible for designing. I hope we can agree on the following.. -If it's my perspective that the game is fun and rewarding to play, others with similar dispositions and/or beliefs, irrespective of their voicing of such perspectives, will also likely perceive the game as such. The effects would then be increased A) player satisfaction and positive perception of the game, B) player participation and count, and C) number of virtual goods purchased. The cake is not a lie - we can have it and eat it too. -If my perspective is to the contrary, then others similar will also perceive the game in such a way, with the effects being reduced A, B, and C. Furthermore, if we can establish as true the existence of a link between intensity of emotion and passion, we can also then deduce that... -High levels of player emotion are indicative of passion. -Low levels of player emotion are indicative of a lack of interest. And finally, if we can agree that emotions are the reason players play in the first place... -When passion and emotion, taken together, in players is low, players stop playing the game. The game has become less fun and rewarding to me for these reasons... **1) Diminished perception of tolerance for outgroups (eg. "toxic players") in the player base over time...** -Players are (with the full blessing of Riot) allowed to be "bullied" by other players and labeled "toxic", and labeled as "trolls" for unconventional strategies and/or picks, or just flat out experimentation. In fact, I recently played a game on another account **against a Rioter, and they joined other players in calling me a troll.** I state this matter-of-factly because it is truth, and I do not embellish. In exploration, there is almost guaranteed to be diminished performance until a certain level of critical mastery with that which is explored is reached (or until a satisfactory level of certainty that the explored is "useless" is similarly determined). I dare say that shunning of players who explore the acceptable limits and boundaries of things is akin to haphazardly exterminating a keystone species in a biological ecosystem in pursuit of perceived "justice" (wow! how horrible of the jaguar to kill the poor rabbit violently with its wor- *cough* teeth). "First, they came..." Toxicity may not be "healthy" for the players on the receiving end within a single game. But perhaps toxicity serves some longer-term critical function that's difficult to appreciate when examined in isolation, without regard to the other elements of the system? Could it be that toxic players are facilitating some type of discourse about some deeper, hidden facets of human nature? Or, more specifically, could it be that their behavior actually sheds some light on the reason people play games in the first place? Could they be spreading, perhaps, truth so that it does not erupt violently when a silenced minority and/or majority is allowed to grow their ideas insidiously "in the dark"? Additionally, if a certain set of rules cannot even in theory be enforced (ex. complete annihilation of player emotion that sometimes erupts into "toxicity"), it's better not to have them in the first place, else you run the risk that you diminish player trust and/or satisfaction in the long run. Compare this with Braess's paradox, where your intentions align with everyone else's intentions (to ensure more people have a better experience or to reduce traffic congestion), but the chosen methodologies actually create a backfire effect or improve the situation at the expense of certain groups. Could it be that mandating anything of players at all, such as "zero-toxicity" and "no leaving games", is the actual problem? Could it be that these things amplify player frustrations (perhaps because players play games to relax and have fun, and not to be trapped with other players who are butting heads with them), and that in turn leads to increased player toxicity? Forcing someone's hand is the easiest way to make them "feel bad". Dota 2 is a great example of a game where leaving is not an issue, and I can't mention how many times I've been satisfied with leaving a game when I didn't want to play anymore - either due to IRL issues or gameplay frustrations. ** 2) Underexplored gameplay mechanics persist in being so, and have often been outright removed in favor of a class of mechanics that are by and large similar and uninteresting.** "Skillshots" are but one form of skill expression. There's no shortage of games that don't rely on position-based dodgeable gameplay mechanics, if position-based mechanics is taken to mean some function or initial condition that diverges into two possible outcomes based on a check of hit-or-miss on a set of points (hitbox) in two-dimensional or three-dimensional space, but that still have plenty of gameplay depth and that are still extremely fun to play (perhaps because those mechanics interact with other mechanics to make timing or player decision-making important and impactful). Master Yi's Meditate ability is a great example of an "undodgeable" gameplay mechanic that's fun, interesting, and has plenty of depth because it interacts with other abilites and/or gameplay effects. Fiora's Parry ability is another*. If every champion has a skillshot, you reduce the amount of fun players who are bad at hitting skillshots have. If you make landing every ability critical to a champion's overall success, every good player of said champion will be playing the champion in exactly the same way. Player decision-making diversity is actually reduced, and those who prefer timing and/or prediction of other players' non-movement based decisions will enjoy the game less. These things reduce the fun I have in League of Legends. I hope this was informative. Thank you and, *perhaps*, goodbye. Sincerely, S2 League Player **You HAVE to listen to us. We're ON YOUR SIDE."** *And yes, if you're wondering. This is me, {{champion:497}}, if you recognize my style of writing and/or have paid attention to my posts in the past. Or perhaps I'm just imagining things. I should totally get paid for this.*
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