The debate around voice communication in League of Legends is an old but important one. It is an idea that Riot and the community have tossed around for years. It finds its time in the spotlight for a while, then fades to the background. Despite this, League of Legends voice chat could have huge effects on the game and player-base, so its crucial to consider it a priority topic.
Because of the competitive nature of the game and the community surrounding it, this debate should reach a conclusion to either keep or discard voice chat.
The Problems with Voice Chat
The main issue that always seems to come up is the general toxicity of League’s community. Everyone has had those teammates that type hateful, sexist, racist, and generally awful things in chat. It can ruin matches, or go even further than that and ruin the whole game for some people. It is a type of behavior that fosters itself on the internet because people are anonymous. They feel empowered to flame teammates because they reduce their identities to an alias and a champion model.
Voice chat only adds to the guise of anonymity. With text chat, it is much easier to target key words and phrases to identify toxic behavior. Voice chat, however, is much harder to control. There is no way to feasibly examine every report of toxic behavior in voice chat because it would require a large amount of resources and manpower. The system League has at the moment is relatively simple, but if voice chat were added, it would be much harder to keep the degenerates of the community in check.
A large part of the League community themselves describes interactions between players in the game to be toxic. They claim that text chat can be bad enough, and the problem would only magnify if voice communication was added to all matches. In a hyper-competitive, team based game, this is surely a problem. Tensions are high in Ranked matches, and mistakes can cost people LP or their promotion series. It is already common enough to see negative interactions in text chat. In voice chat, where people are still anonymous and harder to punish, it could become more widespread and embolden such behavior.
The Benefits of Voice Chat
Despite its potential vices, voice communication for all players would foster a greater sense of community. People can effectively and efficiently talk about the game, their interests and whatever else they want to. Friends would be made and kept much easier this way. In text chat, this is not possible because it is so inefficient for a game where every second, every action counts. Toxicity may be in fact lowered because people can’t hide behind only a username, and must use their real voice. Also, there would inevitably be a mute button. It wouldn’t prevent bad behavior, but nullify it for users who don’t want to hear it. Ideally, there would be away for people to opt out of it as well, which would give everyone what they want.
Secondly, the competitive nature of the game almost requires voice chat for its maximum potential. The professional scene, as well as Riot’s Clash tournaments give credence to this. These two systems, while very different, add voice chat because it is instrumental in high level play. Text chat is simply ineffective for relaying crucial information, and voice allows teams to coordinate and play their matches to the true best of their abilities. All team based esports have voice chat built in, and the fact that League doesn’t shows an inability to adapt to an evolving scene.
Lastly, the professional scene itself suffers from the lack of communication. In an interview with Travis Gafford, 100 Thieves’ Aphromoo stated that solo queue is a waste of time for many pro players, citing one of the reasons as lack of voice communication. Here, he states that anything past laning phase is unprofitable for him, because lack of real time voice chat. He can’t bring together his team to make plays or coordinate their macro game. This only adds to the list of ineffective qualities of solo queue for professional players.
The competitive nature and popularity of League of Legends make voice chat a touchy topic for many. Patch 8.6 added voice chat for pre-made parties, but proves largely ineffective with the existence of applications like Discord and TeamSpeak. Many who dislike the idea of voice chat in all League point to these apps as alternatives. These would be ineffective as they rely on private servers, and require effort on both parties’ parts. If voice chat is to exist in League, the optimal way would be for every match, not relying on unaffiliated third party programs.
For the health of the player base, voice chat may be a bad idea. For the competitive nature of the game, it would most likely be a great step forward. Many point to the lack of voice chat as a weakness to the game and questions Riot’s direction. Others find it necessary to keep online flamers and toxic behavior at bay. Easily reportable and monitored text boxes limit their rants and punish people accordingly.
The issue is likely to continue to be unsolved for the foreseeable future. It will require action by Riot and the community to have a satisfactory conclusion.
Featured image via LoL Esports Flickr.
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