Home Games Press Start: On MOBA toxicity
Press Start: On MOBA toxicity

Press Start: On MOBA toxicity


I’ve spoken a lot about how toxic the online gaming community can be in past articles. Since the dawn of online gaming, players have been known to show their inner arseholery in the name of competitive spirit. This isn’t so much an observation as it is established fact. However, in recent years things have been moving from the occassional 13 year old claiming to have slept with your mother to genuinely good people being turned into violent raging monsters over what most would call ‘just a game’. What is it about modern gaming that can turn even the kindest, most Disney princess acting people you can find into bloodthirsty ragers? To get your answer, you have to look at today’s number one offender: MOBA’s.

MOBA’s or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’s pit a number of players (Usually 5) on different teams against each other in an isolated arena match. Big deal, I hear you say, that’s what gaming has done for decades, it’s always been a case of 3v3 or 5v5 in multiplayer matches, but here’s where that idea falls down. In a MOBA, there are certain strategies and certain recipes needed for a conclusive victory on either side. You have your top laner, support, jungler, mid laner and AD carry on both sides and each of these roles fills a specific need to bring your team together. However, say your support can’t hit their crowd control abilities and you’re finding it hard to start a fight without it. Suddenly you don’t have a well oiled machine within your team any more, you have 1 loose cog, and 4 other people trying to make up for that cogs short comings without the necessary tools at their disposal. Of course, this is no excuse for rage, but compare this to another game like CoD or Halo where even if one of your team can’t shoot for shit, you can still pick up the slack. In a MOBA, each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. If you have a character who does damage, it’s quite unlikely they’ll also do enough crowd control to give your team everything they need. Regardless of your skill level, you’ll constantly be at a disadvantage and risk losing time, rank and reputation because of this one player. Now we’re starting to see why flaming is so prevalent within the MOBA genre.

Speaking of time, by comparison to other games MOBA’s tend to last on a much longer timeframe. It was brought up on the Overwatch Reddit a couple of weeks ago after the beta ended that one player who found himself being extremely toxic in League of Legends, a game which lasts around 30-45 minutes per game, felt absolutely no need to flame when playing Overwatch, which lasts roughly 20 minutes per game. The player attributed his rage to the amount of time allotted per game. In both games, it becomes increasingly evident when you’re about to lose, and you’ll be able to tell the games that simply need maximum effort vs. those that are a lost cause. However, compare 20 minutes leading up to a loss to roughly an hour spent per game in LoL. Those 20 minutes make the difference between “Oh well, I’ve lost, let’s queue again!” and “Oh dear Jesus, if I see one more person playing Teemo ADC, I’m going to kick the next hamster I see.” It’s a hard thing to accept that all of your efforts for the past hour have amounted to less than nothing in the eyes of a cold, unfeeling ranking system, but sadly unless you happen to be a top designer at Riot (If you are, The Arcade would like to humbly request the removal of Teemo from the game) there’s very little you can do to remedy that situation.

Lastly, there’s the fact you’re all working within an enclosed space. You know how every TV show at some stage has done a ‘bottle episode’ where every character is trapped in a room and suddenly their deepest darkest secrets come out? Imagine that, but with 4 strangers and you’re all trying to solve a puzzle. One of the best examples I’ve heard is the comparison between a game of league and an outdoor sport. If you’re playing outdoors and someone comes along saying they’ve sexually violated your goldfish, you can pretty easily walk away. There’s nothing keeping you outside, listening to the gory details of how a man and fish mate. However, in a game of League there are real consequences for leaving and no way of picking who you play with. If someone wants to start flaming you pretty much have to sit there and listen… for 45 minutes… No one wants to put up with someone like that for 5 minutes, let alone 45! But you do it because it’s either you sit there and try to ignore him, or you lose ranking and get banned from entering another game for as long as an hour in some cases. You’re essentially being punished with that players presence, when you’ve seemingly done nothing wrong yourself, making you angrier and angrier until you too are swimming in a pool of toxic sludge created by the MOBA community.

Declan brought up the point in his Smite review that because he was using a controller instead of a keyboard, he had much less reason to flame, and while that might be a contributing factor, I don’t think it’s the only one. We as a community need to understand that toxicity breeds more toxicity and while it may be easier said than done to shut off the negativity being thrown at you, it’s the only way to break this cycle of hatred we’ve gotten ourselves into. Just remind yourself that despite the loss, despite your rank and despite every person online who you’d like to hit round the head with a baseball bat, you are not your game. When you step away from your computer, however little that may be, you still have a life with real friends and real family and real crippling debt to run away from. In the end, isn’t that more important?

…Yeah, no, you’re right. That Teemo is still an A-hole!