Is The League Of Legends Community Really That Toxic?

Zac Cameron,

February 6, 2018 12:00 PM

Spoiler Alert: It's not as bad as people think. A lot of people seem content to denounce LoL's community as being extremely toxic, but is this really the case? Take a trip down memory lane as we look at the effect the game has had in in one writer's personal journey.

Every community has its ups and downs, or its "issues", so to speak. For some, it comes when it’s formed, and there is a need for something new, or to splinter off an existing community. For others, it can be that a community becomes too large to properly function, and becomes a bloated mess. But, what kind of issues arise when your community doesn’t need to ever meet in person, never needs to interact beyond a screen. I recently dove into the wider League of Legends community to see if the reputation of being the most toxic community, was actually deserved.

Promotional art for LoL's Season 1 launch (leagueoflegends.com)
Promotional art for LoL's Season 1 launch (leagueoflegends.com)

This story truly starts a long time ago, when I first started to play League of Legends back in 2010. The community was a lot smaller back then, and living in Australia myself, my interaction was even less than what you would normally expect. I was introduced to LoL by a couple of friends who had transitioned over from the custom games that we used to play in Warcraft 3. My very first game was in my friends’ garage, on a fold out table covered in PC’s in what was an extremely impromptu LAN party. We had terrible internet, a by-product of living somewhat out in the sticks, and on top of that we had only the choice of playing on either the North American server, or the European server, which meant that on top of our internet issues we had some pretty bad ping. I was told to “pick Trist, and just follow me. I’ll tell you what to do”, and that’s exactly how my first game went. I bought the items I was told to buy, I went where I was told and I killed (or tried to) what I was instructed to, and you know what, it was the most fun I had had in ages. Our opponents were obviously better than us. Of the five in the room, only two of us had played prior, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. Two or three games later, and I was hooked. As a kid, I’d played a ton of games on my old Nintendo 64, but I’d never really experienced this kind of competitive multiplayer game before. Before long we were shouting outloud at each other, making call outs, and (generally) kicking ass. But, I never forgot those first few games all those years ago.

Early days for pro players at the League of Legends Season 1 World Championship, held at Dreamhack 2011 (leagueoflegends.com)
Early days for pro players at the League of Legends Season 1 World Championship, held at Dreamhack 2011 (leagueoflegends.com)

Fast forward a few years, and we, Australians, were finally blessed with our own OCE server. Suddenly we were able to play fast-paced champions like Ezreal and Lee Sin with some reliability. I personally started wanting to play the game more often, which meant that I had to seek out new people to play with. Here’s the daunting part when it comes to multiplayer games: At a certain point, you have to ask if you want to either seek out people to play with, or rely on the games matchmaking algorithm to find you a team. Unfortunately, no matter how good the algorithm may be, you can never really experience that bond that comes from playing a game with people over voice chat. So I had to branch out, I had to start finding a crew that I enjoyed playing with.

My first venture in finding a crew was fairly low key, I made a post on the local LoL group on Facebook and waited to see if anyone would respond. It wasn’t too long before I had a couple people who were willing to sit in a Skype call with total strangers and play games together, which in a way always struck me as odd. My whole childhood I had been told not to play with strangers and yet, here I was, seeking them out. It was a rocky start, even going as far as forgetting each other’s names with some regularity. We had to resort to using our in-game aliases for call outs. We also didn’t mesh super well, which is to be expected when the age range was a staggering 15 to 30 years old. Additionally, our skill range was Bronze to Platinum, across the board. But all that aside, we still had a ton of fun by the end, and we resolved to play again in the future.

More recent promotional art, a different style for a different time (leagueoflegends.com)
More recent promotional art, a different style for a different time (leagueoflegends.com)

It wasn’t long before I had a regular crew that all played together, and (more importantly) we became friends outside of the game as well. It’s kind of strange how the way you make friends as a child is so similar to how you make friends over an online game. You kind of just rock up and start playing together. If you gel, then that’s that: friend made. Over the years I would hear of how League of Legends had such a bad community, and how the players were all so toxic, which never really fit with my more-or-less wholesome experience. Sure, someone might have a bad game, and they might lash out, but I’ve seen that happen in a whole bunch of games that don’t seem to have the same reputation.

I spoke to a friend of mine who now helps to moderate a reasonably large Facebook group for LoL players, and he believes that the issue comes from the fact that LoL was the first game that really spread out so far and so fast. The fact that it was free to play makes it an extremely enticing game for people who were looking for a fast and fun multiplayer game that also didn’t require them to pay anything other than the operational costs.

A slightly bigger crowd than Season 1 (LoL Esports Photos, Flickr)
A slightly bigger crowd than Season 1 (LoL Esports Photos, Flickr)

So ultimately it comes down to this, do I believe that League of Legends is as toxic as people say it is? The answer is no, I do not. Any time I need to do research I have found the community to be nothing but open and helpful. I quite regularly see posts asking for tips on how to play certain champions, or how to get better at certain aspects of the game, and they are always greeted with friendly advice and people offering to help. That is not to say that there are no bad eggs in LoL, any time you give people the chance to interact with each other anonymously, some will take advantage of that to act out in ways they would never dream of doing in person. Call me biased, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the game and the community that populates it, and even though my circle of friends may play a wide variety of games these days, League of Legends will always hold a special spot to me.

If you’re looking to keep up to date with how the professional LoL scene is doing, why not check out our players to watch for the NA LCS, or perhaps you just want to know when you can check out your favourite pros playing next on the official NA LCS schedule.



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