Mental Denial in League of Legends: Constantly Complaining but still Playing
Riot recently released their 11.21 patch notes, with one of the major changes being that they will disable /all chat in matchmade queues. This change has been met with opposition from the community. One of the common complaints is that there is more toxicity from teammates than enemies.
What these players should realize if that in a game where playing with other players becomes a net negative, than it makes little sense to continue playing with them in the first place. These players are indeed rightful to question why Riot Games would remove /all chat in the first place, as it seems counterpoint to the idea of multiplayer interaction. However, the problem is that naturally in the setting of the competitive game, toxicity could arise regardless of whatever chat settings are in place. Players must examine why their teammates or enemies would be toxic to begin with and why it’s such a common problem among all types of players all around the world. The issue is that when you place humans in an environment where they fight for artificial ranks, that it’s guaranteed to bring out some of the highest levels of toxicity possible.
Furthermore, players constantly complain about the latest updates. The latest preseason video is the most disliked I have seen in a while, it may be the video with the highest dislike ratio but I’m not completely sure of that.
Anyhow, while I played the game, I saw a lot of complaining about updates but I believed that players should simply adapt. After I left, I now understand that the constant changes that Riot Games did, like new champion releases and major item changes are not compatible with creating a balanced game. Basically, marketing hype is incompatible with creating a long term sustainable eSport.
Therefore, from the perspective of a player, I see that there are many reasons for their complaints in the past now. However, even in my old mindset while playing I probably would have believed that many of the recent changes are far too drastic. I don’t want to go too deep into game balance here but Season 11 was too much of a change for most, even for those who already took issues with Riot Game’s design philosophies, and Riot Games looks to be pushing even further into sweeping changes for Season 12.
The issue is that many players are locked in a toxic relationship with the game where they are frustrated with these changes but continue to play anyways. Even worse, some spend even more time debating various number changes, champion designs, healing and shielding values, and more intricacies more than they even play the game. While at times mathematical and strategical analysis can get somewhat interesting, in the end this constant debate and complaining does little but frustrate players even more with the state of the game.
There are of course times when Riot listens to the community, but more often then not they’re going to focus on building marketing hype around the latest sweeping changes rather than creating a truly balanced game.
Complaints also bleed over to the eSports sections of things as well.
It is common for players and viewers to be commonly critical of the North American region due to what they perceive to be low quality of gameplay. Although I do not believe that eSports are a good thing anymore, it seems silly and misguided to call players performance poor when pro players are doing things at a level that most of us could not do. For all that we know, North America could have been improving in quality since the inception of League of Legends, but relatively they look worse to other regions. The issue in itself is that no matter how high quality the level of play is, relativism will always breed toxicity around eSports. To me, the whole system in general just seems to lead to pointless hatred of players and regions, and a lot of frustration for viewers all around who constantly find complaints with the eSport itself, especially when they attach themselves heavily to teams or regions.
Analysts and players commonly shame North American players for under-performing and failing to qualify for Worlds. But in the end why does it really matter? These players aren’t any less or more as people for it, and attaching so much happiness to their outcome makes little sense.
In conclusion, I think that the general attitude of complaining about League of Legends while continuing to play can be a very dangerous thing because it is turning self-loathing into a type of badge of honor, where constantly it seems that people would rather promote how worse that certain things have gotten rather than what they enjoy out of the game, making people continue to play out of addiction or spite when it is unhealthy for them.
Consider the general attitudes that we see so prevalent in League of Legends:
“I get more toxicity from my own teammates than the enemy team.”
“I’m in North America and our region has the worst eSports teams.”
“Things were best in Season _ (insert prior year) and now is the worst.”
“My champion doesn’t get skins while Lux has a new one.”
“At least in (insert time/setting) it wasn’t as bad as (insert other time/setting)”
Many of these attitudes are built on self-deprecation and degradation of the players the people play with, the pro players they watch, the game they play and the updates the developers make. It’s a never ending contest of who experiences the worst issues or of who dislikes the game the most while still playing it. In the end, if all these things bring so much frustration then why not just do without them? The ability to quit doesn’t seem to come up often, like it is forbidden territory or too much of a leap to make although it is the most logical thing to do in these scenarios.
I know many people who have League of Legends as their main activity who constantly complain about many of the previously highlighted aspects, almost on a daily basis at times, or even after every game they play in high Diamond Solo Queue. In fact, it seems like the deeper people get into it, the more they dislike it.
Recognizing abusive settings can be difficult when people are in them, and as shown in abusive relationships, they can be difficult to leave behind. League of Legends is a abusive relationship for many. They don’t like the moments that they’re playing it, they complain about it after playing, and they’re manipulated psychologically by the developers to keep playing.
Although I knew that game addiction was a real issue, I began to realize how insidious the actual thing could be as I stayed off League of Legends for longer. There are potentially millions of players with very similar experiences of toxicity, but divided from each other and humanity because these similar experiences are tearing them apart. I know many friends who still play League of Legends and I’ve seen how irrationally angry they can become when playing the game or talking about the game, yet when they do other activities they seem far calmer and less stressed. The issue is once they get deep into playing, it becomes harder to live without that competitive pull, meaning they’re entrenched into something that they don’t get enjoyment out of, yet they still crave and long for it.
Players can easily find others to join them in complaint or debates around the game mechanics. Some people make their living specifically on pointing out game flaws. They can attract big viewings and followings, pointing out for example if Riot Games did something else the game would be better. While I can’t fault anyone for seeing an opportunity to make income, I believe the most responsible thing as a former player is telling people the truth about what the best course of action is.
Instead of wallowing in frustration, players should simply quit the game. It is rare to see this viewpoint anywhere, but it is one that players should see is a real option. Of course, in reality quitting can be difficult and a long process, but the point is the objective itself is simple, rather than the quagmire of constantly debating and thinking of what the game itself should be. Players should know that quitting is an option so they can begin to make small steps towards it today, as it is a real clear goal that they can move towards. Once players know they can quit, they can then plan how they’ll taper through withdrawals and get back to the other things that they wanted to do.
Do not continue to do things that do not bring you enjoyment! Most players do not need League of Legends to earn a living and in fact it most often gets in the way of that. Why do something voluntarily that brings so much issues with it?