It’s no secret that online harassment during competitive games is a fairly pervasive issue. Sometimes people log into a game with every intent and hope of getting better and having fun and find themselves abused out of wanting to ever play again by a rival team. Sometimes there’s no good reason why someone gets spammed with hateful messages or harassed and they write the whole thing off. Outside of just ignoring it, there’s never been a lot of great solutions on a personal level, so it’s been left up to the developers who similarly shrug their shoulders about how to possibly fix a culture.
Riot, the developer of League of Legends and itself no stranger to conversations about fixing cultural harassment, revealed in a blog post today that they plan to eliminate the existing /all chat command that broadcasts messages to all players in a match, essentially communicating with the other team.
“While /all chat can be the source of fun social interaction between teams, as well as some good-hearted banter,” Riot wrote in the post, “right now negative interactions outweigh the positives. We’ll evaluate the impact of this change through verbal abuse reports and penalty rates, as well as surveys and direct feedback from you all.”
This is only for matchmade queues at the moment, so for people who go to play competitive League of Legends through the matchmaking process to play against presumed strangers. Riot also acknowledges that this doesn’t solve the entire problem, since abuse can also come from your own team, but they believe this cuts off one Hydra’s head without eliminating too many other benefits in the meantime.
It remains to be seen if other developers will follow suit — or, heck, if even Riot will continue along this same path — but it is interesting to see a fairly dramatic change to curb what was once thought to be uncurbable.