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League doesn’t deserve its toxic reputation anymore

It’s better now, I promise.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered a weird truth: people still think League is really toxic.

Gaming is a very social experience. Whether I’m talking to a raid buddy from Destiny or an old college classmate, we end up talking about the games we like. League always comes up for me. Not only is it a game I’ve been playing regularly for five years, covering it is also my job. But I always get the same response, something that boils down to: “League of Legends? I’ve heard that game is so toxic.”

Just the other day I was playing Rainbow Six: Siege with a friend and complained about the toxicity in the community. “But you play League,” they said, laughing. I was blown away, because League has improved so much in the past few years.

Back in 2013, I remember the reputation well. I also remember jumping into the game and feeling like that reputation was well earned. Players would feed, rage, afk, whatever. Anything to make your experience miserable. But Riot pushed hard to make their reporting tools better. Over the years, from season 3 to season 6, I personally saw a massive decrease in toxicity.

Toxicity talk in League is pretty relevant at the moment due to the return of infamously toxic player, Tyler1. But Tyler1 swears hes reformed, and his recent stream suggests the same. Where he once used to flame, he just complains to his viewers about his teammates. That’s something we all do and it’s much less hurtful than typing out your anger in-game.

If the most toxic player can reform because of a ban, why can’t the community as a whole?

The question remains on if League is toxic. Look, I’ve written several posts for this very feature about how toxic players have ruined my games over the years. I have dozens of bad memories of bad teammates. But I’ve played thousands of games of League of Legends, each with nine other players in them. The bad stands out, sure, but it’s washed away in the sheer number of positive or neutral encounters I’ve had.

I think the answer to “is League toxic” is a lot simpler than a yes or no. The answer is: “it can be.” I’ve encountered horrible people in LoL, folks who want to really ruin my game and twist the knife by making it last forever.

But I’ve encountered jerks in World of Warcraft raids too. There are people that yell and scream at their raid mates, who say horrible things to their allies.

I’ve heard some of the most disgusting shit I’ve ever seen online in the Rainbow Six: Siege chat.

I muted PlayerUnkown’s Battleground’s voice chat feature the second I launched the game.

The real trick here is that sometimes people just suck. People online are bad almost all of the time. If you want to play games online, sometimes you just have to deal. Is that the way it should be? Of course not, humans shouldn’t be garbage to each other. But as long as they can sit behind a user name or be angry 15-year-olds to people they’ll never talk to again, it’ll keep happening.

If you’re afraid of League toxicity but play any other online game, don’t be. You’ll encounter an angry Master Yi every dozen games or so, but it won’t shock and abhor you the way you might think. You’ll also meet friendly people or, even better, players that make no impact on your day at all.

Like WoW or Siege or PUBG, LoL is a social game, impossible without others. Sometimes others will be bad. Other times, others will be good. League may have some toxic players, but it’s so much better than it used to be. In fact, it’s probably the least toxic game I play, if you can believe that.

League doesn’t deserve to be known as “the toxic game.” Instead, treat it like it really is: regular interaction with random human beings. Strive to be one of the good random humans and you can do your part to make League, and all your other favorite games, less toxic.

Riot Games