How Chat Restrictions Hurt League of Legends

Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley

Riot Games shut down the Tribunal a few months ago for extended maintenance due some problems with the way it was working. An “upgraded” Tribunal is supposed to be in the works but in the meantime Riot has been using a different type of disciplinary system which allegedly suspends or chat restricts players automatically based on how many times they get reported in their games.

League of Legends Chat Restrictions

“It doesn’t even come from actually being toxic,” said one player with the username Severos. “It comes from people reporting you so even if you aren’t toxic and someone is like ‘I wanna report this guy’ you’ll eventually get the chat ban after so many times.”

Since the implementation of the interim system, the Player Behavior and Tribunal Ban Inquiries forums have been overflowing with complaints from players being repeatedly given chat restrictions they feel are unfair. It has gotten so bad that many players have reported they have literally been chat restricted 24/7 since the Tribunal went down months ago. Many players have posted saying they have been chat restricted for hundreds of games with the new system. When one chat restriction is about to expire, suddenly another 25 games are added on top of it. Considering an average Summoner’s Rift game takes a little over half an hour, this means some players have been chat restricted for potentially dozens of gameplay hours.

Renewed chat restrictions are strange for a couple reasons because even if a player was toxic and deserved an initial chat restriction, how could they possibly be toxic enough to warrant additional restrictions if they already can’t even talk? One could potentially argue that they are being toxic in the pre or post-game lobbies but if that’s the case, why does chat restriction only restrict in-game chat and not lobby chat? Also, if it were pre and post-game lobby behavior you would expect that only a fraction of chat restricted players would immediately get another one tacked on but that isn’t the case. A huge number of people who got chat restricted have been reporting they can’t get unrestricted now, no matter how good they are. This seems to defeat the entire purpose of a chat restriction if people can’t amend their behavior to get unrestricted. Certainly not all of them could be toxic lobbyers. Whether this is some sort of glitch with the system that automatically renews chat restrictions is unclear but it has definitely made people miss the old Tribunal system, even with all its flaws (which could be what Riot is aiming for).

League of Legends Chat Restrictions

The chat restriction system in of itself is fundamentally flawed because not only does it punish the perpetrator, but it also punishes all of his or her teammates in future games. There is no debating that League of Legends is an extremely team-oriented game which requires teamwork to be successful. If a player on your team is chat restricted, he can’t communicate properly throughout the game. The ping system, while helpful, simply is not a sufficient replacement for actual communication. You can’t really plan a detailed strategy of attack or coordinate which people buy which items with just pings.

Another reason chat restrictions hurt League of Legends is that many players like to play with real life friends as a form of hanging out and relaxation. It is fun to be able to chat with your friends while playing and there are lots of players that don’t have an outside voice chat program like Skype. If your friend is chat restricted, it’s a lot less fun to play with him because you can’t talk about things while playing. To make matters worse, chat restrictions even carry over into custom, non-matchmade games. There is no reason for that.

The chat restriction system could be very easily fixed by tweaking how it works. Instead of giving a player a limited number of messages to send throughout the entire game, chat restrictions should just auto-mute that player for all players in the game. Players could then choose for themselves to actively unmute that player if they want to hear him or her. This is how chat bans work on other games. It would allow someone’s friend to unmute them so they could chat and it would allow someone’s allies to unmute them in a game to coordinate with them. Meanwhile other players in the game who don’t want to hear him would remain unaffected. Regardless, “all” chat would be restricted no matter what since most toxic communication is between opponents.

Unless the chat restriction system is fixed, players are eventually just going to start playing on their “smurf” accounts. Why bother suffering through one if you are just going to get more games added onto it when you near the end of your sentence? This means their potential toxicity will instead be affecting new, lower-level players rather than the veterans of the game who are unfortunately already used to dealing with trolls. A potential side effect of this is Riot driving away new players who don’t want to be part of a community they perceive as toxic.

For tips on how to deal with trolls, be sure to check out my What to Do If You Get Trolled in League of Legends article.

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