There are often times while playing League that I wonder “was there anything that I could’ve done to prevent that situation from escalating?” Here, though, I am not talking about a game that snowballs or when a poor jungler gank that turned into a triple kill for the opposing team. I am instead referring to the way a game falls apart when players abuse the chat feature because they are upset. We have all had games where the most combat seems to be happening between players in the chat screen instead of with champions. These are unfortunate situations, but they are also a problem that is frequent enough to get me wondering if there is a way to prevent it from happening. Because of how much of a part it plays in creating and aggravating situations of verbal warfare between players, for a while I have wondered whether we would be better off without the All-Chat feature in game.
The other day I had a game in solo-queue where I played Jarvan in the jungle. It was a normal and I had queued by myself, but I felt comfortable because my teammates seemed amicable enough in champion select. The game starts and the standard well wishes of “gl hf” are exchanged between teams before anything else. I begin my jungle route by clearing Red before going for an aggressive level two gank on the enemy fiddlesticks in mid lane. Fizz and I don’t get the kill, but we force his flash so it worked out. I head back into the jungle, but after a short trip to top lane the opportunity to gank mid presents itself again. This time Fizz gets the kill and I return to the jungle. The opportunity to gank Fiddlesticks presents itself again and again, and because I know I can count on Fizz, I return to gank Fiddlesticks several times in between clearing the jungle and ganking top. We easily pick up the kill two more times before the opposing team’s Fiddlesticks starts speaking up.
By now he is understandable upset, but Fiddlesticks proceeds to spam All-Chat in order to call fizz a “tryhard,” to call Fizz and I a “tryhard premade,” and to insult Fizz’s ranked elo (which actually wasn’t that bad). It got to the point where the opposing team’s Lissandra, who was playing in the top lane, was apologizing for the poor behavior of her team’s Fiddlesticks. The insults didn’t particularly bother me or Fizz, but they were definitely affecting Fiddlesticks, even though he was the one typing them. There was a noticeable drop in his performance and Fizz proceeded to roam the map killing everything until the twenty minute surrender. What I mean by a noticeable drop in performance was that the Fiddlesticks spent more time standing around typing into All-Chat than actually contributing to the game at that point. Perhaps the game was over by that point (the Fizz on my team was really good), but there was certainly no chance to come back after Fiddlesticks gave up trying and instead opted for throwing petty insults at Fizz.
The reports went out at the end of the match, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not the game might’ve turned out differently if Fiddlesticks did not have access to All-Chat. Without All-Chat Fiddlesticks wouldn’t have wasted time in lane and gave up easy kills because he was typing. Without All-Chat Fiddlesticks wouldn’t have alt-tabbed out during the game to look up Fizz’s ranked elo for insult fodder. The purpose of this story isn’t to make an example out of this player, but rather to illustrate a situation where the existence of All-Chat ruined the game for many people by being an outlet for one player to vent his anger at another. Without All-Chat Fiddlesticks may have directed his anger towards “getting back” at Fizz by killing him and outperforming him. Or maybe he would’ve just vented to his team instead. I don’t know what might’ve happened, but I do believe that All-Chat contributed to making the game a miserable experience for people (especially the people on Fiddlestick’s team) by being an outlet for venting. The bottom line is that All-Chat took Fiddlesticks out of the game.
This is hardly an isolated case either. For every pleasant exchange I witness between teams, there are more instances of players using All-Chat as an outlet for venting their anger or humiliating others. How many times have we seen a fight between teammates become aggravated because someone decides to involve the opposing team? It has happened too many times for my liking. Sometimes all that is needed to incite a verbal warfare between teams is someone typing “worth” into All-Chat. Usually it takes a little more than that, but the point is that it is quite easy to get people upset and that All-Chat does not help these situations at all.
I should probably clarify that I am not upset about people insulting me or making fun of me when I make mistakes. I don’t get upset about stuff like that. The only things that can actually get me mad at League is my own poor performance and Teemos. That said, I bring up the problem that All-Chat creates because while it doesn’t affect me personally, it does affect the game. Thinking back to the example with Fiddlesticks, how many games have you had where someone is too busy typing to pay properly attend to their character and the game? How many times have you seen someone type in All-Chat “**** you, I was typing” after they die? I personally have had a number of games where it becomes impossible to come back in a game because my team has fallen apart to bickering either with each other or with the opposing team.
Not all of this is All-Chat related. Sometimes it is just teammates getting angry at each other which results in the collapse of a team. But while Team-Chat is necessary because a team has to have a way to be able to communicate with each other, All-Chat is not. It’s a nice tool to have, but is ultimately a distraction. I like being able to communicate with the opposing team, but not at the cost of all the trouble that All-Chat instigates. And when a cross-team flame war erupts, I have to wonder if it is really worth having All-Chat.
Is Removing All-Chat the Solution?
As much as I don’t like what kinds of opportunities it creates, removing All-Chat is not the answer. Riot’s direction on player behavior for some time now has been to highlight and encourage good sportsmanship over merely punishing bad behavior, so it would make little sense for them to do something like that. I am a big fan of this direction by Riot because it focuses on improving the experience and helping people become behavior better in game. To remove All-Chat would help with most of the problems that I highlighted, but it would also go directly against what Riot has been trying to promote. Especially considering that the feature is already in place, taking it away would be tantamount to saying “you can’t use this because you don’t know how to behave yourself.” And taking away a pre-existing feature is always a dangerous move, so it is definitely not something I would expect Riot to do.
The other thing is that the problem isn’t so much All-Chat as it is the way some people choose to use it. Though it may prevent some incidents from occurring, it wouldn’t fix the problem of people using chat as an outlet for attacking each other. It would be like putting a band-aid over an infected cut and hoping it will go away because you don’t have to see it. It is for this reason that I do not like nor do I utilize the mute function or the option to turn off All-Chat. They are useful functions when you don’t want to deal with people arguing, but ultimately they just ignore that a problem is there at all.
So what is the solution to the problems created by All-Chat? I’m not sure I have an answer to that because it is not a simple situation. However, I do have a feeling that Riot is experimenting with ideas behind the scenes. There has been a lot of changes to the game by the player behavior team, some of which have been quite subtle (color priming anyone?). It may be some time, but I sure that eventually Riot will come up with ways to reduce the problems caused by All-Chat.
What should we do as players
While Riot will ultimately be the ones to create solutions for the problems with All-Chat, there are things we can do as players to help the situation ourselves. Given their current direction, whatever method Riot decides to use to fix problems, it’ll be focused on improving player behavior and encouraging good sportsmanship. But these are things that the players can do already, so there’s no reason to wait until that happens. Instead of using the mute button to ignore a player that isn’t agreeing with you, try to compromise. Rather than sitting quietly, encourage people not to fight with each other. I can take an active role in making the game more enjoyable for myself, and so I will do that.