Problems with League of Legends and Competitive Gaming: Toxic Streamer Mentality
Popular streamers often contribute to the toxic issues with competitive gaming because of the attitudes that they promote on steam. They are most likely to act in a way that garners the most attention, often with over-dramatic displays of emotions. The issue is that many susceptible players can see these players as role models, further reinforcing their investment in the game and even seeing causing many to pursue streaming competitive games as a career. Here are some of the problems caused when people begin to find too much inspiration from streamers.
Competitive gaming is toxic to begin with. This would be true without the activity of streaming or watching games going on. However, when masses of players idolize streamers, they begin to lose most of their creativity and originality and seem to become one mass that repeats the same things. For example, in League of Legends, the term “inting” was coined by streamers, which later became used to describe any types of poor performance. More problematic, was later on when terms like “mid diff” or “jungle diff” became popular. These were terms streamers used to blame another role for the reason for losing the game. Many players then came to solely reenact this mindset in their own games, not really thinking about their own performances. Although competitive gaming was toxic from the start, as streaming gained more and more influence, players at times seem like carbon copies of each other rather than individuals.
False Sense of Community
Players that idolize popular streamers may feel that they have a direct connection with the streamer when the streamer may not even know about them. A real sense of communication is lost in the chat because over-dramatic reactions are encouraged to blend in rather than an individual acting as themselves. Furthermore, steamers have an incentive to pretend that they know their followers on an individual basis when they are likely simply a source of revenue and donations. Watching streamers can become a dangerous allure for those addicted to League of Legends because they can further justify their time spent in the game or on streams on the basis that they are gaining vital interactions. However, these interactions are really toxic or in the case of streamers, extremely one-sided.
Ponzi Scheme Nature
A prime issue with streaming competitive games, is for someone to be successful in that aspect they have to often be above the top 0.01% of all players. This requires there to be a tremendous amount of streamers and players below them that will never make a living from the game. The issue is that many children who watch League of Legends streamers will be inspired to think that they can do the same when it is very unlikely in reality. The mathematical impossibility of many people wanting to be successful streamers of competitive games makes it a sort of ponzi scheme which requires popular streamers to have a large audience of lower level players who are inspired enough to want to continue playing the game or who want to be a streamer.
In Twitch groups it isn’t uncommon for people who want to emulate the success of large streamers, than complain that they are only getting 1 or 2 viewers. First, I think it’s problematic that people are feeling down because they can’t achieve fame, a fame that isn’t even necessary for happiness in the first place. Secondly, this issue has bled outside of competitive gaming and many want to turn their single player gaming into a career, ruining an experience they may have once enjoyed. When streaming a game and having to interact and watch the chat, I believe that you can’t really be immersed and enjoy a game as it’s intended to be. Overall there are just so many people fighting too hard to stream to a few people, when they could be happier letting go of the ideal of Twitch fame.
To put things into further perspective, statistics showed that a top 0.0009% streamer made about $26,280 a year after Amazon’s 50% cut. Too many are scrambling into an industry where they will not be able to succeed in. I have met people under the age of 10 who already want to be Fortnite pros due to watching streamers, and I find this type of mentality of wanting fame and fortune through gaming to be extremely unsustainable for the newer generations.
Television watching is very problematic among the world, with many people spending hours a day watching television while not achieving their goals. I find watching Twitch streamers to be similar in nature. There are some people who don’t even play competitive games themselves but will spend all the time they have watching other people playing them.
When people simply become the spectators of someone else’s life, they lose the ability to make changes in their own. Additionally, it becomes easier to ignore life problems when people can live vicariously through a streamer. The reality of streaming to thousands of people and making a living in the process is just not something feasible to the majority of the population, but the issue is that most of these streamers appeal to audiences that are already deep in isolation and depression. Most of these people would benefit from focusing on the things central to their life, their school, their career, and their actual interpersonal connections.
Neglecting our own life in favor of watching someone play a competitive game is not something that can end well for any of us.
I believe that streaming is an avenue that has a lot of potential, but that one used for competitive gaming it only exacerbates issues for those who are addicted to gaming. I think that Twitch can be positive as a way to teach people things or educate them on certain issues, and I am glad that the site is encouraging branching out of gaming. I once wanted to be a League of Legends streamer but I have decided that instead I would like to eventually do streams for learning math and ones that are based on discussions to help people quit competitive gaming.
I think that the most important lesson we can learn from the state of Twitch and competitive gaming, is that we should pursue things because we truly like them, and not for a sense of fame or besting others. While most people are dreaming about being the best players and streamers, they think about the ideals of being accepted by many but don’t consider that they don’t actually like the journey that they are on. Attempting to always have better statistic than others is a tiring game and one that can’t last. Many streamers struggle with depression or mental health issues from playing League of Legends or other games, and I hope that they can find more fulfilling activities.