First off, I really like this game.
I've been playing intermittently for years, but I rarely play for more than a couple of hours and rarely for more than a day or two a week. I enjoy it and I am a fairly competent player with a few characters, but I have no desire to go pro and I recognize that my skill level being what it is, I should steer clear of ranked games.
Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped me from experiencing the rage of strangers asking me to uninstall. I've experienced it often. Even when we win. Even when we're playing a great game. Sometimes, even before the game begins.
Once I wanted to play Twisted Fate.
He seemed cool and kinda reminded me of Gambit who is awesome so I figured, hey, I'll go and try him out. I looked up his skills, googled a workable build, I joined a game, and picked twisted fate. Then everyone lost their minds!
See, they had decided that they needed me to jungle. Something I'd never done before and honestly, something that I'm not sure I could even do well, considering that I have not even reached level 30.
"OMG!!!! GG! GG EVERYONE! OMG JG TW!! F@#ing NOOOOB!"
I don't remember if we won or lost, but I do remember I stopped playing for a while. This was yet another time in which experienced players unloaded on me for not knowing enough about team comp, or not seeing the lantern they dropped, or not knowing that my character had some combo with another player, or simply because they wanted me to take a different lane. I never pick lanes. I just end up where no one wants to go. I didn't quit out of frustration with the game's difficulties. I fair well (if not amazingly) in games overall. I quit because it's no fun to be yelled at for an hour by some random internet person.
But my brothers love the game.
They play ranked and have those nice fancy borders around their characters on the load screen. And every so often, they sell me on the idea that the community has much improved since the last time I played. So I dust off my League and I go back to the Rift. I decided to only play solo against bots, in an attempt to avoid getting in people's way while I find my bearings again. I was doing pretty well playing intermediate so I talked to my brother and decided to play coop vs ai. It went well and so I started playing coop without him. I haven't lost a game, but I'm quitting anyway. Here's why:
Last night, I was playing Aatrox.
He was free to play champion and I've always wanted to try him so I once again, joined a coop vs ai game and picked him. I am super rusty. My mechanics, my timing, it's all terrible. And there have been many changes. New characters, new items, I'm pretty sure the jungle is different and Aatrox is different.
The game starts and two people had called jungle and were debating how that was going to work. I went bot and the others took their places, but nobody went mid. And that is how it started.
"OMG! Who's mid!" Who's mid?"
"Aatrox, go mid."
"Alright," and I go mid.
Same guy starts pinging me to help him jungle. He's got a second person right next to him but insists that it needs to be me. The game was beginning so I just started farming gold in the mid lane."
"OMG!" "Noobs!" "This whole team is noobs!"
"Jesus dude!. Chill. We're playing bots!" I said.
Of course we are noobs. We're in training mode. This is where us noobs go to stop being noobs. It's literally the only place where I can play that still earns me points and gets out of the way of people looking to go pro.
We won. I got 10 assists and 3 kills (maybe it was two? I forget). Not great, but I was a net positive. When we won, it didn't feel like a win. It felt like a douchebag had been harassing me for an hour.
I took to the forums to see if my experience was out of the norm and of course, I found that it wasn't. But I noticed some interesting things about the conversation.
1) There is a constant argument that most of the problems result from well intentioned people trying to help and having butt hurt noobs slap their hand away and throw a tantrum.
I've definitely seen this. It is a real thing. But I don't think it tells the whole story. Most of the people that have been abusive in game, at least in my experience, have been people who were doing poorly in the game and passed blame on the closest other player.
Put in another way:
I've never had a problem with great players who I've always found rather helpful. The people doing the yelling tend to be intermediate players having a bad game or terrible players blaming others for their shortcomings.
I am sure most players have had a conversation that goes something like this:
"YOU JUST WATCHED ME DIE!!! WHY DIDN'T YOU DIVE TOO?!!! WHY DIDN'T YOU R?!!!"
"Ummm... because it was 2v5 and I'm at quarter health, three levels behind, not yet level 6 and the rest of my spells are on cool down? I don't think you should've gone in."
2) There is great debate as to whether Riot is doing enough to create a good environment for players. Some think that they are and that a combination of the competitive nature of the game, the age differences of the players, and anonymity make it pretty much impossible to fix this problem. Others feel like a more aggressive hand would yield results. Strangely, a lot of people asking for a more aggressive hand were actually asking bad players to be punished for being bad.
I understand. If someone is a terrible player, they might be trolling deliberately. Punishing trolls sound reasonable. Of course, they might also be children or, for a myriad of legitimate reasons (mental or physical disabilities for instance), just bad players that just like playing anyway. Therein lies the problem with punishing people for playing poorly. Even AFK has legitimate reasons behind it. (Faulty gear, for instance)
I don't think punishing players for being bad is a sensible strategy for making the community less toxic. If a player is consistently trolling in a ranked games, that's one thing. If a player is just bad at the game but playing unranked or coop vs ai, then they're just bad at the game. It is, after all, a game.
I do, however, think Riot could be doing more to help alleviate the situation. But I don't like complaining without trying to help find a solution, so here's a few ideas:
1) A kiddy pool with a strict no grownups policy. (Low-level Unranked?)
There needs to be an entry level to this game. If my brothers hadn't eased me in, I would've stopped playing much sooner.
I think a large part of the toxic environment is due to the fact that there is an unrealistic expectation of commitment that permeates through the community. People who just want to play need a space to play each other. The unranked matches should be that place, but they're equally filled with people who expect you to have solid strategic foundations and know most characters (and who will yell at you if you don't). So, how about a place where people above a certain level or rank can't go in. Or maybe they can, but the chat is disabled for everyone. Or maybe the punishment for hostile behavior is more severely enforced.
Or maybe an Anything goes mode where people pick their characters blindly and there is no chat box. That way, strategy is discouraged. I don't know.
2) An intermediate, guided training area (like the first tutorial) focused on learning different roles and strategies. (Playing mid, playing bot, jungling, Building adc, building support, warding, positioning, poking, ganks, map awareness, etc...) (Strategy Workshop?)
This would be a way out of the kiddy pool. Maybe you'd have to successfully finish this tutorial before jumping out of the low level unranked games, I don't know. That way, people playing the game more seriously don't have to worry about "noobs" and new and/or more casual players don't have to content with unrealistic expectations. Or maybe it's just highly recommended.
Anyway, theses are my thoughts. Hopefully, they help steer this community in a more positive direction.