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Impotence and Love Lost

May 3, 2013

Dear Reader,

We’ve discussed efficacy here before, both efficacy at work and in our gaming worlds.  We often spoke about it in regards to failures at balancing personal efficacy in group situations, such as how one person in WoW could ruin the excellent work of 9 other people in a raid.  Efficacy should be about scale; nine good players should be able to undo the failures of one bad player, but in early raids before everyone’s super-well geared, it can make for many frustrating situations.

Back in January, Doone of T.R. Redskies wrote a piece on the toxicity of the League of Legends community.  I responded then with some surprise, not because I doubted him, but because I hadn’t had the unfortunate luck to run into it.  Usually, I feel like the unluckiest player that I read about when I end up again and again with terrible players in LFD.  I’d hear stories of these wonderfully smooth runs, long stretches of them, and think why can’t I get lucky like that?  To hear that someone else was suffering from bad groupmates didn’t make me happy at all, of course, just – pleased, perhaps, that it wasn’t me for a change.

It was suggested to me then that I’d see it more once I began playing ranked games.  Simple enough, I thought; I’d avoid them.  However it seems as you progress, regardless of normal or ranked play, you begin to rise in some invisible ranking and begin to play with more and more “serious” players.  As a result, players find themselves in better and better teams – or with worse and worse individuals.  It seems that simply putting in time and winning occasionally makes players feel like they’re entitled to having nothing but victories, to always be able to play the characters they want, and to be able to treat others as they deem necessary.

I’ve been participating a lot in the tribunal, too, as I thought it both provided me an appropriate outlet to dispense justice as well as helped me better understand the tone of some of the games.  I had about 50 cases and a 100% accuracy rating for a long time.  Then I missed one.  I had voted for a punishment when the community had opted for a pardon.  I loved that I could go back and see which case to further understand what’s acceptable to most, but dismayed when I saw what it was.  The case centered around someone who’d been calling a lot of people “retards.”  He’d been reported in 5 games for the same offense; calling players on his or the other team a “retard.”  I remembered feeling a little unsure, because he wasn’t particularly vicious, but the repeated use of the term I felt warranted at least a warning.  Apparently not.  Apparently it’s okay to repeatedly refer to total strangers are retards.  It was the first real rift I felt with the community as a whole.

That’s when this post really started brewing.  I’d been reporting more and more and had finally run into a situation where the community as a whole and I had a disagreement.  Then, today provided a prime example around which to center this post.  I have been playing fewer and fewer “live” games as I was having a harder and harder time in them.  To be frank, actually, I wasn’t having a harder and harder time.  The fact is that if I get to play Teemo mid and I’m against anyone other than Lux (due to the incredible range on her slowing mines), I can control my lane and win there.  I don’t say that to brag, but to make the following points.  First, that I was running into more and more completely inflexible players, and that those inflexible players were also often very lousy.

I have a character with which I’m a solid player for 4 of the 5 roles.  I support as Taric, top as Shen or Singed, depending on the team makeup, mid as teemo, and adc as – well, let’s be honest, adc is always instantly scooped up, but I can adc as TF, Graves, or Tristana.  I like to start champ select by saying that I can do anything but jungle, but often in the time it takes for me to say that, every other position is called or locked in.

I can’t jungle.  I don’t get it.  I don’t like it.  It’s not interesting or fun, and I don’t have any characters I like to do it with.  Yet I kept being forced into that role.  A few times I dropped champ select because of the hostility of the other players when I pointed out how malleable I was except in that one area.  Other times I simply stated I would be duo top laning and wandering a bit, which was often met with the same hostility.  Look, if I’m willing to play 4 of 5 roles, and 4 other people aren’t willing to work with me, then I’m not the problem.  Apparently, though, that was not the general consensus.  In those games, too, often mid got destroyed by someone I knew I could have stealth ganked over and over and Teemo.  It was irrelevant, though, and often led to a loss.

Then today happened.  I went into a normal live pvp game (because I’m stupid and stubborn and can’t seem to learn) and went ahead and typed my normal thing.  No apparent problems arose, as it seemed no one wanted mid.  We had 2 top, me at mid, and an ADC, and the fifth person, right before the buzzer, chose Warwick with smite.  He was going to jungle.  I wrote quickly before the game started that someone would have to adapt, and since we had a Twitch going top, I assumed he’d just go bot.  When the game started, though, that didn’t happen.

Varus was stuck at bottom with Lux and Miss Fortune, both of whom have quick attacks compared to his slow charge-up attack.  I pointed this out early on and asked again for Twitch to go bottom or Warwick just to lane with Varus, but no one would cooperate.  At this point, I frankly stated that if someone didn’t relent, we would undoubtedly lose.  No one did.  The negativity began.

We lost, of course.  We were clearly going to lose at 20 mins, so I went to surrender, but the 2 people who were top – two of the three who refused to adapt – chose no.  I know because I asked and was told so.  Because Varus had kept losing ground and getting killed, MF was 3 levels ahead of me as a mid, so she could shred anyone on our team.  I tried another surrender when they pushed into our base 10 minutes later.  Again, the same 2 refused.

I asked then what their strategy was, because if we were just going to keep defending and losing ground, we might as well quit.  One of the top fellows said “ace them in our base, push mid, gg.”  He was referring to the fact that the only turrets down were mine at mid, which I’d pushed alone throughout the game.  They came in full force, but our team didn’t work together, so they killed a few of us and the rest were forced to retreat.  I took a few of them to hell with me (gd lux’s slowing mines), so they had to fall back.  Another 10 minutes passed, and they had pushed all the way in a bit at a time.  Finally the surrender vote went through.

At the end, the other team said that I specifically had done a good job.  I got a teamwork honor (I assume from the solo Varus who I’d helped when I could) and a few honorable opponents.  Clearly my behavior didn’t bother most of the people there.  However, it could easily be argued that I had a very negative attitude throughout the match simply because I was stating the obvious: if we don’t work together, we won’t win.  We couldn’t even work together during champion select, so we’re not going to work together in the game (which proved true over and over).  Therefore, we should surrender and save ourselves 20 minutes.  I made this point repeatedly, and I feel like the two top who kept voting no to the surrender were doing so as a form of trolling.  Both were atrocious players; I was the only person positive with K/D at the end, and Nunu didn’t get a single kill with his ultimate despite the repeated (losing) team fights.

So is it negative to recognize one’s impotence and acknowledge it?  Were they being trolls by refusing to face reality?  Who’s really the “bad guy” there?  The two inflexible players?  The Warwick who went jungle after 2 tops had been called?  Me for chiding them for not working together?  I just don’t know any more, and not knowing kills things for me.  Think back to when I tried fire mage and just couldn’t, after repeated practice, understand what I was doing wrong with my rotation.  Eventually, I just dropped it.  When I can’t see the problem, I can’t work to fix it, and if I can’t fix it, I feel impotent, feel like I have no efficacy, which drives people to be unhappy.

I may be getting done with LoL.


Stubborn (but not stubborn enough for LoL, it seems)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2013 9:29 am

    Sorry for your experience. I only played LoL for a relatively short while, and I can’t imagine how frustrating it gets at your level.

    I feel like, if I wanted to enjoy LoL, I would need a consistent team of friends. People to improve with, and work on strategy with, and laugh about fails with. Those random strangers too often troll, or are inconsiderate jerks, or just refuse to believe they might have to communicate in order to play well.

    • May 15, 2013 11:24 am

      I completely agree. My goal was to have a relatively consistent team of 5, subbing in a person or two from time to time. Instead, I’m often alone or only with my wife, meaning that no matter how well we do, if one or two other people are terrible, we’re stuck.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. May 3, 2013 12:35 pm

    I can’t speak to LoL at all but as a long-term WoW player I can speak to negativity. I think negativity as a general concept has gotten an undeservedly bad reputation over the past few years. I used to have a boss who would basically call out anyone who used a “negative” (his phrasing) word at work – can’t, won’t, etc. Felt like a more annoying, slightly better paying version of primary school. Adults should have the ability to use whatever language they deem appropriate to a situation.

    In your situation you were strategically using negativity to try and improve the team result. Sounds like you attempted to do so positively as well but were rebuffed or ignored, only makes sense to try negative, the alternative is to give up entirely. Too many people choose that latter option exclusively or allow selfish players to determine the outcome for everyone. Whenever possible, screw that!

    In my opinion, the worst negativity is defeatism. In my limited PvP in WoW for the legandary questline, more than once I spawned in to the waiting area and someone would post some variation of “we’re doomed” or “we’re going to lose, let’s just get this over with as quickly as possible.” That’s a type of negativity I won’t tolerate. However, I’m perfectly fine with “we’re doomed unless we protect the one healer that we have”. Still negative but with positive intent. I think that phrasing is more effective than the more positive “if we protect the one healer that we have we’ll have at least a small chance of winning”. Don’t get me wrong, by the 15th attempt to get one damned win I was feeling that level of negativity every time a new game started but I also knew that this could be the time when we win. Please god let it be this time. I didn’t give voice to my negativity, though, I did what passes for my best in PvP and hoped it’d be enough.

    Negative comments also have to have some validity to be useful. This is a particularly common issue in LFR where players who have no ability to actually analyze a failure speak out as to the cause, generally incorrectly. “We died because of this.” No, we didn’t, that may (or may not) have happened but it wasn’t what caused the wipe. “WTF healz!!” Sorry, skippy, can’t heal through people who refuse to move out of the puddle. People died, but healing wasn’t to blame.

    I have no problem with someone pointing out an actual, valid issue that will lead to success the next time. Pointing out what was done wrong is just as important as pointing out what should have been done instead, telling people what they should do isn’t as helpful as also telling them what they shouldn’t do. Last boss of ToT is a hilarious example of this, I actually look forward to seeing what theories are brought forth after a wipe. If you haven’t had a chance to try that boss on LFR yet, I highly recommend it from an educational standpoint. “JUST STAY STACKED UP!!” (no, that’ll kill you due to a million adds spawning) “JUST STAY SPREAD OUT!!” (no, that’ll kill you due to stuns and people being one-shot) “STAND IN THE DAMNED SWIRLIES!!” (no, the big swirlie will most likely kill anyone standing in it) It’s a good time. Not as fun at this point as it was in the first week, by now half the people in most groups know what they’re doing, but still worthwhile, even folks who have done it once or twice likely don’t actually know all of the abilities and I still don’t know which happen where yet, I just deal with them as they happen.

    More than once I’ve killed a boss in LFR and had someone make a comment along the lines of “wow, I can’t believe we got a kill with this crappy dps (or crappy heals or crappy tank)”. Pointless negativity is pointless. “omg gold again”. Was there a memo that people would always get gear drops from LFR bosses? Must have missed it. These types of comments really annoy me.

    Far as I can tell from the original writeup you’re the only one who comes out looking good. Sounds like it’s a team game and you were the only one treating it that way. I find that there are a surprising number of players appreciate determined leadership but there certainly are some who don’t. or even actively resent or attempt to sabotage it.

    Long story short, I’m all for tactful negativity when it’s used for productive purposes. I have little tolerance for aggressive, misplaced negativity, though.

    • May 15, 2013 11:23 am

      I really appreciate this comment. It helped me think in different terms about what I was doing. I get so frustrated during some of those games that I feel like I can’t trust my own communications, so afterwards I was perhaps being too hard on myself. I do try to keep things at least decent if not nice, so I guess when framed in that way, I am trying hard to get the team to win.

      I handle my class so differently, though; I never lose my temper, never run out of patience, and so forth. It’s my job, of course, and I feel frustrated with my students some times, but I never let on; I always keep the message positive, because with these at-risk kids, any negativity can translate into a permanent disconnect. I don’t have it in me to be the same in a game, where I hope to meet people with similar goals (to win) and have fun.

      At any rate, thanks for the comment!

  3. Samus permalink
    May 3, 2013 12:46 pm

    Okay, I have a laundry list of comments that mostly aren’t related to each other, but here goes.

    Most of my own bad experiences have been a complete refusal to recognize that an opposing player might be good. If I die 3 times in lane, I more or less expect to be told I’m terrible, I lost us the game, there’s no hope, I should uninstall, etc. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told, “they’re not good, they’re just fed because you’re terrible!” One step I have started taking is to point out when I have a bad matchup and that I expect to lose in lane. It’s too early to tell if that’s helping to stop negativity directed at me.

    One interesting issue my friends and I have recently noticed is that we have a wide range of performance depending on what champion or role we play. This has led the matchmaking system to “expect” a certain level of performance relative to the players it matches us up against. This means if top or mid (by far my best two roles) are taken by someone else, or if I am trying out a new champion, it is more or less a guaranteed loss.

    With your Warwick, many players refuse to acknowledge even the possibility of a duo top lane. So when two players call top, they simply assume the second player is forced to go somewhere else. Combined with the fact that Nunu is probably played more often as a support than a top, I could see if he thought jungle was the remaining open position. So my guess is his issue was more likely poor communication (which is ironic for a jungler specifically), rather than being intentionally stubborn or trolling.

    Your top lane, on the other hand, were trolling I think, or at the very least playing unconcerned with how they would effect the team’s chances of winning. My guess is they were friends and wanted to play together, and picked champions they liked without regard for team composition.

    While I also can’t really jungle, I have started to recognize that the duo top isn’t really viable. The main reason is that your top laner is probably your tank, and if he’s splitting xp and CS in lane, it will significantly impact his ability to do that job.

    From that perspective, you should think of jungle as a sacrifice position similar to support. With support, you don’t CS and spend much of the gold you do get on wards or a Sightstone. You expect when you sign up as support that you will not be particularly effective as a champion, but you make that sacrifice knowing it will help your team. Jungle is the same way, jungle farm simply isn’t as good as lane farm. You will wind up slightly behind on level and gold, and should expect to be less effective yourself, but that’s the sacrifice you’re making so the top laner can be a solid tank.

    • May 15, 2013 11:09 am

      I know exactly what you mean. Deaths may not be due to any specific repeated failure as much as just an excellent opponent or a terrible match up. I can almost always destroy middle laners are an AP Teemo, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. At the same time, I have SUCH a hard time against Lux, but I’m the same player who can go 30/3 in the previous game.

      With my game, I can certainly understand the issue of people mistakenly calling or not calling too many of a certain position. Still, if it’s clear there’s a problem, just ADAPT! That’s what frustrated me so much; their complete refusal to adapt to a bad situation. It was foolish and juvenile, and it made me want to just drop – something I’ve sometimes FELT like doing but never really considered.

      As for my jungling incapability, I just don’t get it. I can understand support sacrfice; I’m quite good at it. In fact, in the last game I played – my first live pvp since this post – I played Taric and helped a decent team carry a win with my good tanking, healing, and CCing. I just don’t get jungle. I can follow the path, use my CDs and pots, etc etc, and still end up too low a level. I just don’t get it or like it.

      Thanks for the comment!


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