Mental Denial in League of Legends: Mental Fortitude does not Justify Toxicity

As I’ve written more about quitting League of Legends and the problems associated with toxicity in gaming and why players should quit because of it, I have often received comments and messages that those that cannot put up with toxicity are simply weak and that people should simply ignore it or not let it affect them.

However, having played directly with these types of players, I know first hand that the ones who justify the existence of a toxic environment are the most affected by it. The players who call others weak for not wanting to put up with toxicity are often very argumentative with both enemies and teammates, and easily upset by how players may judge them in the game. From this pattern I have seen, I find it difficult to believe when people say that they are not affected by toxicity. In fact, the act of calling others mentally weak for not putting up with toxicity is somewhat toxic in itself, and shows that they are emotionally affected by what others have revealed as a true problem.

Those who are truly not affected by toxicity don’t spend time calling others weak because that itself is an unnecessary judgement. When I played the game, I had truly become stoic in my Ranked pursuit, rarely typing to enemies or teammates when they were being toxic. I did develop a sense of strong mental fortitude that still helps outside League of Legends today, but I don’t believe that it ever justified the toxicity I encountered. I believed that being stoic was just necessary to succeed in Ranked Play. However, being stoic for too long in this environment is problematic as well. It makes us become emotionally distant and we can forget about how non-toxic environments are supposed to be. To this day I still have troubles properly displaying emotions sometimes because of the way I had to distance myself when playing League of Legends.

There are often a few justifications used for toxicity, I will demonstrate the flaws in their reasoning.

“It’s just a Game/Virtual”

People sometimes justify the existence of toxicity by saying that it is only a game and a virtual setting. First off, this phrase seems to support the idea of quitting more than continuing to play, because it’s true that there are much more important things than playing games. Secondly, this phrase itself is a form of mental denial because many of these players are putting multiple hours a day into these games while still claiming that they are just games. Although games are virtual, when we put great amounts of time into them, there is some meaning attached to those experiences. This means that toxicity would have as much of a real effect as any other activity, only in League of Legends an average player’s exposure to toxicity is overwhelming. Also, when players play a game for 5–10 hours a day, it could be said that it is their main form of life now and not just a game to them, so there’s some cognitive dissonance presence here when people put so much effort into a game but try to deny it as a game at the same time. It reminds me of many RuneScape players I saw who made their life the game but would constantly berate others for playing a supposedly useless game.

“Toxicity and Words Shouldn’t Affect You”

As mentioned earlier, players who tout this phrase are often the most affected by toxicity. The claim that words shouldn’t affect people is also silly because by saying this phrase in the first place is seemingly an attempt to prevent people from quitting the game through words. The point of language is a means to express ideas and they do have real effects on us. Most players are quite far from stoic, especially the ones who say this, and they will become very irritable over time from continuous play. I have seen how quick some can be agitated to anger due to their time spent on competitive games, as well as their rigidness of thinking and contempt for humanity from constant exposure to toxicity. Even those who can truly experience the game in a stoic manner do experience weariness over time, making me have doubts that not being affected by toxicity is a viable thing for the standard player. Quite simply, all players all around could just not play and not have to deal with it anymore.

Similarly, I doubt people who say that words shouldn’t affect people would accept many of the things said in League of Legends if they were said in their home, the workplace, or in a public setting. Now of course the online setting is more anonymous and we do have to expect a degree of different interaction, but I believe we should still attempt to interact as we normally would elsewhere. This is not a possibility in League of Legends simply because its competitive nature can drive all types of people to be toxic against each other. However, in places like Discord and Reddit removed from that competitive setting, it is possible to have much more quality interactions, although of course seeking this in the real world is most important because their are still more hostilities online and not all interactions can be completely expressed properly.

Some players say we should simply ignore toxicity. There are some merits to this and it can be important to ignore certain things in life. However, this is much easier done by simply quitting than by staying in a constantly toxic setting. A great deal less toxicity would be ignored in the first place by distancing from exposure to it.

“Feeders are Worse than Toxic Players”

This is an issue that exists in the meta content of the game itself so is irrelevant once quitting. Someone who doesn’t play anymore doesn’t have to deal with either of these issues.

Secondly, from a meta perspective these things can be interrelated. A player that is not performing well is definitely going to begin to play much worse when facing the distraction of toxicity. Furthermore, players who claim to accept this standard will likely be the ones to argue back if they are criticized for their own gameplay, even if it does not match that of the team.

The toxic environment also makes it so that there isn’t a true sense of statistical or mathematical analysis and people are just likely to see anyone else from them as feeders. I have often seen streamers claim that people are sabotaging their games when their teammates are not doing anything out of the ordinary nor do they have game history out of the ordinary, while ignoring the similar issues in their own games or history that they claim that others are having.

Is it a good thing to have mental fortitude? Definitely. This aspect is an important thing to living a successful life. We should attempt to remain calm and not be easily angered by the situations around us. However, part of being mentally healthy is also about knowing when an activity no longer serves us.

I had made many good friends on League of Legends and there are some good memories that I have, but overall when I examine the time spent playing in its entirety, it was too much time spent in a toxic environment where I wasn’t growing completely as a person. I had dreams of building a better life for myself and others and it wasn’t going to happen on Summoner’s Rift. Additionally, while I still believe that it can be good to have a stoic attitude, I also want to be more open to others and to connect with them easier.

If you want to train your mental fortitude, do so in pursuit of what’s truly important to you, but not on the Ranked ladder of League of Legends, there just isn’t much to gain from it. Don’t accept unnecessarily toxic settings or activities. Be open to solving problems for yourself and others, but where it is worthwhile for you to do so.

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