The MOBA community can get a bit toxic at times. Denise Kuan takes a look at this and explains her approach
“Stop f***ing feeding, n00b.” “Why you feed”
If you’ve ever had a bad game in one of the many MOBAs out there , you’ve more than likely heard similar phrases from your own teammates. Positive reinforcement is notoriously nonexistent in this style of game, in spite of its rapidly growing popularity among gamers. Games such as League of Legends and Dota 2 boast over 12 million players daily around the world. Even many of my gamer friends who had previously hated on League of Legends and vowed that they would never be associated with it are starting up accounts so they don’t feel left out. However, what these new players don’t realize is that there is a difficult road ahead full of players who aren’t exactly accepting of inexperienced MOBA players, or n00bs as they are so lovingly called.
My introduction to MOBA began when one of my best friends told me to play League of Legends with her. I play mostly FPS and action-adventure games, so the playstyle in League of Legends was completely new to me. At the time, we only played Dominion (capture the points) against bots (AI opponents), and that’s all I ever knew of the game. Flash forward to a showdown on Summoner’s Rift against my friends, I finally began to learn what League of Legends was actually about. I watched VODs (Videos on Demand), read guides, and spent too much time poring over the forums to see the latest news and what the community was talking about.
For me, I’ve found that taking the time to learn about the various mechanics such as last-hitting, item builds or combos and battling against bots , has helped to build my confidence and basic skills when I play in a PVP game. I was fortunate to have many friends who already played League of Legends, so I didn’t usually have to deal with random people yelling at me if I died too many times. Unfortunately that’s not the case for many, regardless of what MOBA they are playing.
Considering how popular MOBAs are at the moment, many people are just starting to play, and without previous familiarity, the learning curve is steep. My friends, who have just started up League of Legends accounts, are often frustrated because they are not used to the gameplay, or are criticized and continuously put down during a game for being unskilled. Aileen, who just started playing commonly plays with friends to avoid the negativity.
In the seven years that David Chang has been playing MOBAs, starting with Heroes of Newerth and Dota, he’s encountered both rude and pleasant strangers. David’s problem was not the toxic players, but his own circle of friends. He said that he now only plays Dota 2 very casually, because the competition among his friends had gotten out of hand, and some friends were unwilling to play with other friends. I hate to admit it, but the one time I played competitively against another group of friends, I exhibited the same frustrations with some of my teammates, the other team, and myself because I wanted to win so badly. I look back at that time with shame and regret; the game wasn’t fun anymore because of my poor attitude.
My poor attitude due to losing a game in which I believe I performed to the best of my ability is not uncommon among higher levels of play. Some people choose to play MOBA competitively, and at the high-ranking level, one mistake can cause everyone on the team to ruin their KDA (kill/death/assist) ratio or fall down in rank.
Platinum-ranked League of Legends player Eric Pang started playing League casually, but became excited about ranking up and getting better. He has been playing since the beta, and because he plays mostly with randoms, he has mentioned to me that the key to winning games is to have to the skills to be able to carry the team, and not to blame a defeat on another teammate. This is similar to what pro gamer Doublelift has said while commentating on a match he played – he said his team lost because he was not good enough to carry them , not because of the less experienced players on his team. If there were more experienced players that shared his mentality, the community would obviously be less toxic, and players would actually feel responsible for their actions.
Knowing that many of my friends want to have fun playing a MOBA, I tried hosting a League of Legends game night for some new players and experienced players. I created custom matches, with new players evenly split between the teams, communicating amongst themselves via Skype. I was unsure of how successful this night would end up being, but at the beginning of it I had 16 people waiting to enter my custom lobby to play some friendly matches. Some stuck around for six hours on a Wednesday night to play, regardless of what team they were put on, and all games ended with lots of “Wow that game was fun” reactions from both teams.
I learned from this experience that it is entirely possible to have fun playing a MOBA, if everyone has the same mentality going into it. With randoms, unfortunately, that’s not always the case, with strangers whining about killsteals and feeding or simply trash talking in the chat because they can. Having talked to a wide variety of players, though, this type of bad behavior is common in any type of competitive game.
So with the surging popularity of MOBAs, should you be playing them? It depends on what you and your gamer friends seek in an online multiplayer game. The incredible high of winning a match based on well-executed strategies and awesome plays by our team is enough to encourage me to continually boot up my League of Legends client everyday. But if you are playing by yourself and are unable to shrug off the anonymous negativity that may get thrown at you, MOBAs may not be worth your time.
The key to enjoying any MOBA is to create an environment you are comfortable with, whether it be playing with friends or being confident in your skills to be the MVP of a team made up of strangers.