TLDR: We need a better system when faced with Hate Speech for people to remove themselves from the situation. Having to change behavior, mute, play an entire game and report just seems unfair. Provide a new avenue. Also, in order to create change, maybe their needs to be a different system that takes away the one things that toxic people do want, which is to play the game.
Let me acknowledge a couple of things first: In my last situation I responded with the phrase that I am going to report them. I'm aware of the mistake that it was, but under an emotional response to a situation I made a mistake. I take ownership of that and I'm aware that this phrase doesn't do the best to deal with any sort of negative situation. Second, I'm aware of the issues that can come from dodging multiple games, how that impacts those who aren't in the same lobby as me and aren't even aware that situation is happening. Finally, I'm aware that there are those who wouldn't want there information about being banned to ever be shared with a member of this community nor does a lack of notification from Riot mean that nothing has happened.
Despite the recognition of all of these factors above, we are forcing people to be placed in situations of bullying. If someone uses a racial slur, I elect to tell them don't use that language towards me or stand up for myself, that person continues to do so in response to me. If you are more aggressive (I will report you) they respond with even more aggression. Finally, if you ask politely, you can still be met with aggression (and I have) for saying anything. You are attacked. At this point you have two options: Play through the game so that you can report this person or dodge, send an email, and hope that you aren't further punished for having dodged the game. This seems like a lose lose situation for someone of color who has been targeted by racially charged language. Play with someone who is offending you or face the punishment for exiting the situation. My first issue is that you can't stand up for yourself in this situation. You can't speak out against there language inform them or your future choice to report, or do anything other than mute them. So in other words, they can play normal, spam hate things in chat and spew anti African American, Anti-Homosexual, or whatever minority you choose language, but you have to hide it so you don't see it? Why does my game have to change? Are we really a community that is giving ground to people to spill such rhetoric into the game especially when such communication is against the policies provided by Riot? This seems wrong.
My second issue here, is the fact that, while pregame and post game chats are visible, that there is no way to exit the situation. If someone has expressed themselves in a racist manner, I don't want to play this game with them. I don't want to interact with them. I don't want to have any sort of communication with them. Yet, if faced with that situation, the current solution is "Play with them and then report them after". I can't stand up for myself and I have to play an entire game with them? Why? I understand that me dodging would make getting in a game longer for others, but I have to sit through discrimination, racially charged situations, and hate speech so that someone can get into game 2 minutes faster? Is this really a logical answer? Are we equating 2 mins of time with the oppressive nature of racially discriminatory language? And this doesn't just apply to race, this applies to homophobic slurs, anti-religious slurs, or those slurs directed at people who aren't of a designated religion (Such as implying that someone who doesn't believe deserves to rot or something of that nature). Why should anyone have to play through a game that is supposed to be fun while be faced with someone who wants to utter hate speech? Again, I don't agree with this current model.
Finally, I think the current honor system and ban/restriction system as I understand it, doesn't go far enough to create changes to the behavior and language of those that play this game. For example, I'm sure many people who come on these blogs and play this game have watched twitch streamers who have been chat restricted for flaming their teammates. What you often see, however, is that despite becoming (now) dishonorable and losing out on keys and various other things for being banned or restricted, continue forward with the same behavior. I have seen those who have been perma banned on multiple accounts and continue to make new accounts and carry the same behavior forward. Why is that? Because losing out on loot is not enough of a deterrent. I don't buy skins at all, because I can play without them. However, there have been certain skins that I just had to have, so when I didn't have them in any of the chests I opened or they weren't gifted, I went and got them with my own money. Those who are dishonorable maybe can't get free loot, but unless I'm mistaken, they can still spend money and buy anything that they absolutely have to have. That hasn't changed.
So a response to player behavior has to take away the very thing that players want to do which is: play the game. All punishments shouldn't target free loot alone, they need to come with restricting the ability of players to play the game. Ban them a minimum of 7 days for everything. Harsh? Absolutely. Effective? I think it would be. It would take away the ability to play the game, the very thing that they seemingly wanted to do in the first place. Now, I'm aware that the next response to this would be what about a smurf or alternative accounts? Well think about this timeline:
Monday: Primary account banned for one week. Player creates smurf account
Tuesday: They begin leveling the account (How long this would take to get to ranked would depend on the player but lets say 6 games a day)
Wednesday: Toxic in game, reported by multiple team members
Thursday: Plays 6 games, toxic in last game reported by one teammate
Friday: Banned one week on alternative account. Starts a new smurf (Account 3)
Saturday: Begins play on Account 3 plays 6 games
Sunday: Account 3 reported
Monday: Returns to primary account. Reported that same day.
What I'm attempting to show is the place that someone who was banned would be in. They could theoretically, create a smurf or multiple smurfs, but if their toxic behavior continued, they could be placed in the same situation and be forced to continue to make smurfs in order to play, however they would be forced back to Level one without runes, masteries, or the champion pools they previously had. In addition, if you increase the level of ban with each report (say a jump from 7 day min to 30 days) Now this person in question is constantly having to start over in order to continue their toxic behavior and their bans get longer. They are forced to either A. Change their behavior or B. Never be able to enjoy the game in its entirety. Behavior that violates the polices that Riot games has placed down shouldn't be allowed, so why not create a system that truly creates change, by taking away the ability and privilege to play this game.
Now there are a few issues with my current model. The first, those who are reported and didn't deserve to be would be blocked from playing the game until their emails are responded to and discussed. People may lose out on game time unfairly so by receiving a ban when they shouldn't have. A fair realization and I'm sure there are many who wouldn't want to be put under such a risk. Another issue, is this does sound pretty harsh. If someone flames me I don't want them to have to lose their right to play the game, I just think they shouldn't be allowed to chat at anyone for awhile. However, I have suggested a situation in which even such things as flaming would lead to the lose of game play. That's something that may be a hard pill to swallow. One solution I have to this is to be able to appeal a potential ban. If Riot were to ban you, you have 2 days to respond and request appeal. At which point, you can have an opportunity to explain yourself. While you are on appeal, your ban wouldn't come into effect. This would be similar to the process you see in some Sports leagues when it comes to bans and restrictions. This could provide alleviation for that risk, while also giving an opportunity for people to hear how their actions impacted others.
The final issue is that my model is based off imperfect information. I don't have the numbers of reports and bans based upon previous systems and current systems. Perhaps number suggest that the current system is working just fine and I'm the one who has faced just a recent string of truly offensive situations. I don't know, but if that is true than maybe a change isn't needed. All I know, is that the last two weeks has strongly made me consider leaving this game entirely because I'm tired of having derogatory terms directed at me. I understand that these may not even be a good suggestion of a system, but I don't want to just complain, I want to create discussion and actually search for an avenue of changes so that those of us who have hate speech directed at us can find a way out.
In conclusion, I understand why things are the way they currently are, but I think that a new avenue needs to be presented. Maybe a permanent muting function so that people don't have to ever speak with their teammates, maybe a system or tracker that simply blocks out all Hate speech, or something of that nature. Maybe the ability to report a player in pregame chat and than automatically removing the reporter from the game would be beneficial or worth looking into. I don't know the extent technologically of those requests, but they are ideas that I have. I want to enjoy playing this game and others have been ruining it for me with their hurtful speech and actions. I hope that this discussion can incite some amount of change or at least open others eyes to the situations be faced by those of color, LGBTQ+, religious, or other minority groups while playing this game.