Toxicity Isn't Just An Issue For MOBAs

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor December 6, 2014
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Maybe we've been too hard on MOBAs.

Sure, they're full of toxic players who insist you play the game perfectly or else they'll unleash a stream of profanities in your general direction. Sure, the people running the show are mostly powerless to do anything about it (if they care at all).

But I'm starting to think this isn't an issue exclusive to MOBAs, but rather is something that can crop up during any instance of – and I'm totally making up a term here – Online Random Group Interaction. You know, a good ol' ORGI.

Unless you play solo versus bots, ORGIs are the only way to play a MOBA. You line up with a group of random strangers, of various skill levels, and then are expected to perform like a well-oiled, cooperative machine and mow through your enemies with clockwork precision.

To put it mildly, it doesn't always work that way. And when it doesn't, the knives come out, often pointed at you or one of your teammates. Sometimes it's deserved – some players really aren't very good – but there's a distinction to be made between people who literally don't know which buttons to press and people who are competent but haven't poured their souls into a game for 100+ hours a month and read/watched every strat article/video on the Internet.

The thing is, I think that last paragraph could apply not just to MOBAs, but to all sorts of ORGI situations.

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You've probably been in one of “those kind” of groups in an MMO, especially if you make frequent use of random group-finder tools. The tank doesn't hold enough aggro. The healer doesn't heal, the DPS pulls the wrong targets. Some people are actively bad.

But I also think that the vast majority of people I've played with in these sort of things are pretty good, but they're used to running things a slightly different way, either with friends or with their guild. Maybe they aren't expecting the tank to speed-run from one encounter to the next or they're used to standing in a different spot when fighting the boss. Or maybe they're generally good players but don't have experience in the dungeon or whatever other content that's currently being run.

I've noticed the same sort of thing in team-based shooters or open-world games that have large dynamic events, where the majority of players know how to do something, but there are always going to be a few new or inexperienced players who are either new to the content or have reached the peak of their skill, so telling them “lrn 2 play” isn't going to accomplish anything.

The bigger the ORGI, the more likely that there will be someone who doesn't know exactly what to do in every situation. And, given these games' “just jump in” mentality, lambasting people for being less-than-elite acts counter to the game's primary draw.

(True story: On the second day of the Guild Wars 2 beta, there was a guy raging in chat about people not knowing what to do during a big encounter. On the second day of the beta.)

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As you might have guessed, I consider myself to fall into that “competent, but not often willing to devote my life to a game” player. I'm hesitant to PUG a dungeon in most MMOs and have no interest at all in picking up a MOBA, due in large part to figuring I'll get hammered because I'm so far behind the curve in the meta. If I could find a group of friends to play a MOBA with on a regular basis, like I have my guilds in MMOs – thus, taking the R out of the ORGI – I'd consider playing more.

I feel like that's the case with a lot of MMOs I play, too, at least when I don't have guildmates or friends online, or when I'm new to a game and don't know anyone. I'd like to play with people, but... people suck. So I solo. No, I'm not some super-sensitive flower who avoids criticism, but someone telling me I should use a different weapon is a whole lot different from that same person telling me to die in a cancer fire.

Sure, this can all boil down to “people are dicks on the Internet,” and specifically “people are dicks in online games,” and that's not news. But while MOBAs take a lot of the heat for toxicity, I think that's just due to the nature of the beast and that it's a phenomenon that exists in many online games that feature ORGIs. MOBA developers can do what they like to try and curb that behavior, but the only real option is to play solo – not really an option in MOBAs – or in non-random groups. It's probably not something that can ever be “solved,” but it's also not exclusively a MOBA issue.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (36)

Groximus 6 years ago
i swap from MOBA to Starcraft 2 beacuse of toxicity, i learn to carry whit Kayle whit Hurricane and i carry every single match from the jungle, i played always in arraged team, but mi friends (real life friends) started complaining about me carrying every match. they wanted me to leave kill to the ADC that was really bad when he had 0 participation in the kill. my friend turn agaist me they all were mad because i learn to carry a match i always end up like 20/4/10 and they said that it was bad score for a jungler, the jungler should not carry. they don`t understand the whit the new jungle items Jungler-Carry was an option. they wanted to make champions selection like pros do and thats pretty stupid if you`re not pro. i got so frustrated of carry the team (mi real life friends) and only reciving critics and complains that i unistalled the game, funny that when i finally learn how to play well people started being jackass to me, so i bougth Starcraft 2, i love playing 1 vs 1, i seriusly dont want to play any more "team based games" only 2 vs 2 or something like that whit my brother, he is the only person whit who i can really cooperate and we understand each other and seek the greater good and no indivudal goals

GamerForLife 6 years ago
This is basically why I play with friends and only with friends! I don't get mad if the party wipes or if we lose a match I just shrug it off and try again. But there are people that just LOSE it and it annoys me to the point of quitting if I can't get my friends in on the game. Usually though in games like LoTRO,WoW,TERA,and so on I've usually played a tank or supporting character and I ALWAYS mention that I am new to the game. This usually gets me one person bitching about it and the others telling me how to properly do certain things and giving me a heads up if there is a debuff or aoe I should just dodge because I can't block it(TERA). I did this once in LoL and holy shit my entire team just went off on me! JEEZ! I think it's more prominent in mobas because people are really REALLY competitive as opposed to like TERA or WoW where it's usually PvE content that I run.

the6freak 6 years ago
Wow, just look at the toxicity of the comments. I could never understand why so many can't help but be disdainful.

daWanted 6 years ago
TOXICITY is a song of system of down...toxic players are everywhere because no one like too lose...and in moba games should be ranked matches like people in higher ranks play with people in same rank or level....because is painfull when u spend hours in one game and some "noobs" kill your experience...have nothing against noobs because i was one....and noobs should play with noobs in the same rank...just a opinion

duty14 6 years ago
"Sensitive flower" is the right word. MOBA's are competitive games. Nerves will come no matter what... Even between teammates that are friends.
Someone can curse a lot but you don't have to take it personal and be hurt by it... Nobody is forcing people to play MOBA's but these games are the most played anyway. Why is that? People like to swear? ( some of them do ... )
No these games are competitive and when things go wrong you need to let disapointment out. Same happens with sports too... Looks like the author of the article is a stranger to sports... Sports are team based also. When things go right everybody is happy and when things go wrong everybody is nervous and disapointed. This article its putting a doubt or blaming the NATURE OF PEOPLE.
When you play a game you know what to do after some point of the game. It comes logically. The people who don't know what to do didn't given their interest long enough to the game meaning they are casual and anyway they won't play the game longer or the game is to difficult for them to manage? IF you do the wrong stuff or actions into a game you should be able to take criticism for your mistakes even tough the criticism is a little harsh ( but at the end of the day those are just words and be called noob or die of cancer still has the same target telling you that you are bad and you need to become better). If these words are flamed continuosly from a certain person over and over again you should allready know who are you dealing with and you should allready know not to get down to that level and take those words personal.

ama8o8 6 years ago
Can people stop saying people should just play bots to learn a new champ...honestly its like people think bot games = pvp games...even if you find out what build works, if youre getting killed a lot by a real player that means the bot games didnt help....normal Q is there for a reason ...to help you learn the ropes so that you can be able to compete in ranked -_- everyone starts somewhere you cant expect someone to magically become good at thegame...thats why I hate league so much the community just makes me feel like no new people are allowed to play the game ....

devilr 6 years ago
A team game like it say must be play as a team or you wont win,and rage is a part of those game,i loose lots of game ranked because of other player ...I am not a pro but i am not bad ...SO rage is sometimes just frustration because u dont do anithing to loose the game,u where playing good but the other do sh*** !

Zhao Yun 6 years ago
As far as mobas specificly and as far as being new in them i believe that people kept getting the wrong idea or ignoring entirely the fact that theres games where u can play vs bots and its u and 4 bot allies vs 5 other bots or u and 4 more people vs 5 bots so in that prespective u can play vs bots and with people without getting the blame and stuff cause most times in these games people try to just learn a new hero/champ than trying to "win" the game or "get kills" or whatever but noone does that and specificly in LoL for example people just ruin other peoples games by trying new champions in normal games instead of just going and learning the champion in bot games therefore people get mad which i find normal so i think it just gets down to how "stupid" are the people playing the game rather than the whole raging aspect of it

View 2 replies
Cyril 6 years ago
Captain Obvious to the rescue!

cacalips 6 years ago
1) Mmorpgs have block, ignore, blacklist and minimize chat. Moba does not. But you can ignore it easy since action on screen.

2) Sensitive people need to shut it. Its competitive gaming. People are gonna type stuff. While they type... You play and get advantage. Its not like violence and greed of the game is innocent.

3) more offensive than a chat you can ignore. Map pinging. Afk. Disconnect. LoL has millions of people on poor people pc's and dial up. 95% matches one team or other or both lose 1/3 of their team first 10 min. Of play.

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Skizezero 6 years ago
Ok, I have to say this is one most pointless articles ever written. Toxicity has ALWAYS existed. Whether it's in online games or not. You see it in any type of competition. It's just part of human nature. When you play a game, you want to win. Winning is far better than losing. You're lying if you say that you're enjoying the game if you're consistently losing. The more you lose, the less enjoyment and fulfillment you experience. When you win, it gives you a good feeling.
Honestly, any one with common sense knows that toxicity is everywhere. Who in their right minds thought toxicity existed only in MOBAs? Heck, the most toxic people were generally in fps games before MOBAs existed.
You guys ever hear of fights breaking out in sports, etc? Yeah, that's toxicity cause they want to win or the team they're rooting for to win. It's been around for centuries. Welcome to real life guys.

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Yup 6 years ago
Gw2 SoloQ Feelings
(Same about Arena, train mode)

Deyirn 6 years ago
This is simply because on the internet you are anonymous and there are no consequences for insulting others.
Those who insult and act nasty obviously have some sort of emotional problems or something like this and they get easily frustrated by petty matters and explode on the internet, and if there are others like them, the chain reaction is hilarious.

This kind of people, depending on the country they live in, if they act the same way in the real world, they will be either, alienated by their peers and other people, or get bullied, or get beaten up to dust, or maybe the three of those all together.

It's kind of sad that such "broken" individuals found the internet as their proving grounds, but hey, let's forget about the internet and be happy that some don't fall for this.

fromhelll 6 years ago
I posted this a couple hours ago, somehow it didn't actually post, here it goes again.

It sucks that there aren't any real solutions, but that's life, people are assholes in person ,if you put them behind a monitor and keyboard where there's no chance that they'll get smacked on the head they act even worst.

I think I heard this on a movie, "there are two kind of bad people the ones who do bad things and the ones who let bad things happen", in other words, toxicity isn't just about the person who's raging, it's also about everyone else in the team who just sit there quietly and let the crazy person take over the game, I'm not saying arguing with him is gonna solve anything, but if people actually talked to each other before someone starts raging , after all FPS, MMO's and MOBA's are supposed to be team/group games (sometimes at least), and by just sitting there playing quietly you're not really being part of the team either, yes you're not raging at your teammates, but neither are you helping build up the teams morale, you're just there existing.

A couple days ago i was playing Dead Island: Epidemic (Crossroads mode) and 3-4- minutes into the match some guy started raging at another player for spending too much time killing zombies instead of doing to the target area, I get that he was slowing us down, and leaving us 1 man short while he stayed behind fighting, but if no one said what the plan was at the beginning of the match, so how was the guy supposed to know?

I'm not saying that's the cause for all the toxicity in gaming, but not talking is a big part of the problem, you can't expect for people to guess what you're gonna do if you never told them or if they never played with you enough to know your playing style.

Dough 6 years ago
To be honest its no the mobas or internet's fault that so many people rage these days, its the power of anonymity, and its especially apparent in mobas since with the current matchmaking and the amount of players you are not likely to ever meet the same person again. You can rage all you want and there wont be any consequences apart of you getting banned in the most extreme cases. Which just forces them make a new account and ruin the poor newbies games with their reinforced toxicity levels. So back to the anonymity part, most people wouldn't rage IRL and wish cancer to their friends because they care about them or just don't want their asses handed to them by either their friends or some random strangers.
Talking about MMOS, you are not likely to rage as much at your guild/clan mate since you are going to see and do things together with them for a while, you are better off being on good terms with them and maybe teach them something useful instead. MMOS aren't that competitive anyways so it's all good.
and a few thoughts about the article, I didn't feel like it meant anything at all, just a long rant about the current situation or kids raging in games, what would be nice to hear are some solutions or causes of it all, maybe some deeper examination as to why this is all happening, not just stating that it's simply happening. I'm quite sure most of the people experienced it in most of the multiplayer games they play in one form or another.

Anon 6 years ago
If you want to see toxicity, play Archeage or check the forums.
Honestly I love ArcheAge but the community is by far the worst of any online game. It makes toxicity in MOBAs like LoL look as sweet as a bag full of sugar by comparison.

Razer 6 years ago
Obviously it exists in other games, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a community that's comparable to the open hostility and bitterness of MOBA players. The snowballing momentum of the leveling mechanics in MOBA games seems to bring out the worst in people.

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Your Maker 6 years ago
Lol is this guy srs ?

Let me tell u how my LoL games usually go honey boo boo

I most of the time got most kills on my team, but my team usually pick a champ they have never played bef4, always feed, always does not care about winning, and when i gave up carrying and spam FF, they report me, i didnt even rage, i just simply gave up and just wanna move on to next game and they all report me :]

So tell me who is toxic now ?

I love kids with no analysis skills or statistic skill or people-reading skill or have any appropriate credentials try to write shet about things

I just fking hate journalists dood , who are good at nothing but writting bs :], if u r truly good at writing, write a book pos

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