Dote Night: Dealing With Doofuses

This one is called Why Did You Abandon Our Game, It Was Still Winnable

Part of a miscellany of serious thoughts, animal gifs, and anecdotage from the realm of MOBAs/hero brawlers/lane-pushers/ARTS/tactical wizard-em-ups. One day Pip might even tell you the story of how she bumped into Na’Vi’s Dendi at a dessert buffet cart. THIS WEEK, however, she will be sharing some learnings dealing with chat abuse in Dota 2.

MOBAs get a lot of flack for having “toxic” communities. I see a fair few commenters and have a number of friends who would approach starting to play a MOBA with the same trepidation as one would have when tasked with finding a mood ring in amongst a swarm of bees. But never fear, I now have a few helpful tips to share. (If anything has worked really well for you, just pop your own strategies in the comments.)

There’s an expectation of flaming, of abuse, of intolerance, particularly when you’re out of your comfort zone in MOBAs. From my own experience it hasn’t been bad with Dota 2, but I spent the lower levels of the game playing as part of a stack – friends and friends of friends which mitigates a vast amount of the potential for random flaming. I started playing LoL and the experience of learning solo (not many people I know play) was very different.

Mostly I’d say I’ve encountered players being frustrated at these lower levels of play. Sometimes it’s by their own lack of ability in the face of an unfavourable matchup or lack of experience with a champion, other times it’s with me or another player not knowing something – a ward placement for pub games or a timing for an objective.

The one which sticks with me was a game where there was a stack of three players, then me and some other person who I think abandoned almost immediately. The co-ordination and game knowledge from the group of three made it clear they were using smurf accounts for some reason. I was trying to help win (which we did) but it felt like I was being punished for actually being the level I was in the game.

My mother was a SAINT. Or possibly some kind of water snake.

I used an ability because I thought someone was going to escape and it was deemed a kill steal, I went over to help with objectives after some pinging on their part of the map and that was wrong too, and so on and so on. I did explain what had happened but the response wasn’t positive. I have no idea if they made good on their threats to report me but it was an irritating experience and one which has stuck with me in a way that casual insults or abuse haven’t.

The conversation came up again thanks to a recent post on the Dota 2 subreddit titled “Need some advice on how to deal with caustic teammates” detailing a similar experience but with the addition that the teammates deliberately left the player to die in some scenarios. Some of the advice on this thread and others was solid:

1. These people were jerks;
2. There’s a mute button which is incredibly handy for silencing people if they’re getting to you;
3. You also have your own options for reporting and commending players;
4. Hopefully as you progress you’ll encounter fewer butts.

There are, however, a few extra things I have learned or which being insulted has taught me which I’ll add here:

Rising To It (And Then Deleting It)

The urge to fight back or to explain is often overwhelming when someone starts flaming or accusing you of all manner of transgressions, in-game and out. I’m naturally less inclined towards pursuing arguments online but I still find myself occasionally smashing my finger down on the enter key to open up the text box and offer a stern rebuttal of all accusations.

Something I’ve found therapeutic is to type it out, wait a second and then just delete. It’s because in that pause I take a deep breath and remind myself that the only way the game plays out from there is either with more baiting because it got a response or an extended back and forth over which one of us is wrong – more typing, less time playing. That won’t work for everyone and there’s still a risk you’ll hit send. Maybe you tab out instead and type it into a Google doc or something where you’re not likely to put it into game chat for real. But the act of getting the frustration written out helps me not to dwell on it, to just shrug it off when it’s low level bother I don’t deem worthy of a report.

I’ll confess that very occasionally I will hit send and it’s usually when someone’s maligning my warding in a game where it’s been constant:

“wards???????” asks the carry as we stare at defeat. “lol witch doctor u got no itmes”
“there were always at least two wards on the map” I can’t help myself pointing out. “And that’s why I had no gold for items”.

I wish it didn’t bug me but the apparent invisibility of vision is a frequent cause for insults of support players. That’s why the next screenshot made my day:

I was so pleasantly surprised I screengrabbed it :D

The other type of message I’m guilty of hitting send on is when a teammate is having a tantrum and picking on a fellow player who really doesn’t deserve it. I’ll generally ignore what’s directed at me but when it’s sustained grief aimed at another person it makes me cranky.

“Maybe grow up and sort out your own positioning – they were trying to save you,” is the short of thing that slips out very occasionally. I’m the insufferable uncle of Dota.

Oh. Also sometimes this stuff sneaks through:

The stupid thing here is that I don't even have a loft.

Who Even Are These Fools?

I like a balance in my gaming. I play an awful lot as part of a stack – five where I can get it but smaller chunks of a team when not. It’s more of a social experience with in-jokes and chat as well as strategising and killing. It’s meant I leaned away from solo queuing for ages – why risk a game of instapick Pudges who don’t know how to land a hook, Ursas who forget Roshan exists and Shadow Demons who time their Disruptions for exactly the moment you cast an expensive and important spell?

But recently I’ve been missing the freedom to experiment which I find in solo queue games. I trained myself not to care what strangers think because it makes it easier to brush off insults which do come your way, but that also means I find it easier to bring out new heroes in that environment. I’ve currently got my eye on Warlock and I’m more likely to take him for a spin in bot games and with random pub players than with friends who I might Let Down Terribly.

It’s an upside borne out of learning to deal with something intensely annoying but an upside nonetheless!

It’s Not Everyone

My own experience has been that rude remarks aren’t constant, nor are they dished out by the majority of players, but they can stick with you, overriding the memory of all the other players – mostly quiet and neutral, just playing. They can also be incredibly unpleasant, adding in racial or homophobic slurs completely unexpectedly. In a match one person can leave nine others with a negative opinion of the game and its community.

To take some numbers from LoL, “we’re seeing this type of language [homophobia, sexism and racism] in less than 3% of games globally and when it does appear, it’s immediately reported by players and acted upon”. They add, “less than 1% of players are so persistently negative that they trigger a permanent or 14-day ban, ranked restriction or even a single chat restriction”.

But when you encounter it, it starts to build a tapestry in your head where the player base is repeatedly awful. I remember a blog post from 2013 when Valve overhauled the Dota 2 communication system and they said that “Losing a bunch of Dota 2 games doesn’t seem to cause people to quit. But one thing that did stand out in the data was the amount of negative communication between players. Put simply, you are more likely to quit if there is abusive chat going on in your games.”

QoP now has her own makeup range and solo career

Something I’ve enjoyed, though, is that happier memories stick out too, particularly when strangers are involved. I remember the guys who tried to do impromptu tech support for one player who was having computer issues and kept having to pause. I also remember the person working in marketing who was working on a novel in his spare time and was talking excitedly during a pause about the future he was imagining where he had finished it and could leave his job. I remember the two people a few weeks back who I chatted with about a fantasy book series we all enjoyed while waiting for our death respawn timers to tick down. There was a guy yesterday who joined in a stupid joke about one of the other team’s players being a duck.

They might not happen often but they’re also really nice moments – silly ones and weird ones and happy ones which I like telling people about because they can go ignored in the face of conversations about “TOXICITY”.

If It Is A Phantom Assassin Complaining

“fucksake noob team”
“no1 comes to help”
“stop feed”

You can usually safely ignore these because the PA is just flinging out insults and blame like she would Stifling Daggers except she can’t afford real Stifling Daggers because she has mismanaged her mana. She doesn’t feel sufficiently babied (generally despite the team’s efforts at clearing space for her) and is annoyed that someone has noticed she didn’t get a BKB yet. But it is okay. Eventually she will come online, kill everyone and take credit for the whole win.


  1. Imbecile says:

    That was surprisingly entertaining given I’ve never played a moba in me life. I guess I can relate to it a little from playing battlefield. After a few unpleasant experiences and messages we mostly chat in our private group, but every now and then we get someone in our squad (who cant hear us) who spends the whole time yelling about how terrible everyone is, and how they are holding the side together, and stringing together expletives about choppers. Its hilarious.

    Also, I chortled at the alt text on the 4th screenshot.

  2. trn says:

    I have little (positive) experience of pvp Dota, but I do enjoy these columns. I have been playing a lot of Heroes of the Storm the last couple of months and we have the same morons there. One term I’ve seen used with the same lack of self-awareness as idiots who say, ‘Say what you will about Hitler, but…’, are those who describe themselves as ‘reason ragers’. Yes, the ‘reason’ is that you are a cretin.

    My advice is a handy put-down:

    1. ‘If you don’t shut up I will mute you.’
    2. ‘Now its time to call ‘gg” (aimed at that special variety of smegma who calls ‘gg’ one minute in.)
    3. ‘Are you this unpleasant in real life?’
    4.’ Have a biscuit. ‘

    Troll = pwned.

    Ok, not really. I’m more of a sarcastic bleeding heart player than nagging uncle. Tbh most HotS players are completely silent. So I usually just talk to myself in-game.

    Favourite moment. Game starts. I say,’ hello, gl hf’. Friendly Illidan replies : ‘go f£#@ urself’.


    • macek677 says:

      Dude, HotS players? You mean Bot that joins the game after player RageQuit?
      Of course they will be silent and stupid, they are bots.
      That is how blizzard is avoiding pause button, wakey wakey!
      I don’t like the idea of no penalty for players who leave, and what is even worst I hate the idea of bots joining when player leaves… where blizzard do not mention this little fact. I wonder why.

      In dota I use to mut players who were acting like 12y old :]

  3. Thirdrail says:

    1. I think MOBAs get a little too much attention on this subject. I played Counterstrike for a year, and it wasn’t noticeably different, and I only ever played that in the modes which were clearly defined as “casual”. Toxic is the baseline for pretty much any competitive online game. This is what happens when you’re on the second generation of kids who have been raised entirely by their xbox. If I ever get all the back babysitting money I’m owed from online gaming, I’m buying a Porsche.

    2. Riot’s ridiculously massaged numbers are far more infuriating than any LoL player. Try having a bad day at League, or any MOBA, and come tell me it was less 3% toxic. Such a bald faced lie. I say this as a huge Riot fan, with thousands invested in League. I’m not a hater, by any stretch. I just find that one particular Riot PR lie both abhorrent and disingenuous. I wish you guys would stop repeating it as though it were fact. Or better yet, do some investigative journalism and find something closer to an accurate statistic, because we both know it’s not 2%. At five players per game, two percent translates to there being a toxic player in one out of every ten games. If it were only one out of every ten games, we wouldn’t be talking about it, and it would never have come up in the first place. Such an obvious lie, told for such obvious reasons.

    3. You don’t need to talk to anyone at all. Hit enter, grab the edge of the chat box, and move it off screen. (It comes back every game, don’t worry, it’s not getting lost forever.) If you’re not in League, where the chat box moves, just mute everyone when the match starts. Map pings are more than enough to communicate everything you need in any MOBA.

    • Xocrates says:

      Regarding 2., I actually believe those numbers IF you count all game modes. ARAM is generally very chill – even people visibly annoyed rarely become outright toxic -, and in Vs AI toxicity is virtually non-existent. Even if these are not the main course for the game, they’re certainly popular enough (perhaps even deceptively so) to skew the numbers.

      • Lamb Chop says:

        Also, that 3% has an outsized effect on others’ experience. If you do some bad napkin math, ten players in a game, 3% are toxic, roughly 30% of games will have someone that is toxic, half of which are on your team, and you as the player experience toxic games much more than 3% would suggest as a raw number. Also, they’ve shown there’s a knock-on effect from experiencing toxicity, where I had a shitty game because of a nasty player and then I take it out in my next game on someone else. Now one person has ruined not just a single game, but the next one, too.

        • Wisq says:

          This, precisely. And it can also manifest more long-term, whereby people who went through the toxic times of being a newbie now feel entitled to take out their frustrations on the next generation of newbies — and get particularly upset if you try to clamp down on it, even if they should logically be happy that you’re breaking the cycle and preventing other people going through what they did.

          It’s not unlike hazing rituals in schools / sports teams / etc. — or nerd culture “gatekeeping” now that the culture is mainstream and the new members aren’t “uncool” like the old-timers were.

  4. Simbosan says:

    Maybe I’m just a grumpy old fart with no patience for petulance, but why would you even start playing these games if you’re not a bit ‘trolly’ yourself? There are so many other ways to play games online where toxic little bedroom warriors are thin on the ground if not totally absent. If you’re a game journalist then I see why you need to try it out but this article just underlines why I would never bother.

    • jamesgecko says:

      Because MOBAs really are pretty great games. With a good, friendly team, there’s quite nothing like ’em. They’re very deep; lots of variety and interaction between different characters and abilities and mechanics. There’s tremendous satisfaction in figuring out and successfully executing a new strategy.

      That said, I play with friends/friends of friends for 90% of my matches, so my exposure to toxicity is reasonably low. And we’re playing Heroes of the Storm, which puts more emphasis on The Greater Good than most other MOBAs.

  5. Ham Solo says:

    There are several games I play with toxic communities (although I don’t play MOBAs), most notably World of Tanks. I can relate to alot of the stuff in this article, but could someone explain to me the “That’s why the next screenshot made my day:” and the relevant screenshot? I can’t really tell what’s going on there, being a stranger to the genre and all.

    • pirusu says:

      It took me a second to realize that it wasn’t being sarcastic.

      In the previous paragraph, Pip said: “I wish it didn’t bug me but the apparent invisibility of vision is a frequent cause for insults of support players. That’s why the next screenshot made my day:”

      Wards grant map vision, and the support players are the ones who buy/place the wards. This person was saying “thanks for being awesome supports!” basically.

  6. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    – This comment contains a threat someone made to me while I was playing DOTA. So you know, it’s a bit unpleasant. –

    Unfortunately the toxicity of the playerbase was a large part of why I gave up on DOTA (are you meant to capitalise that or not?) along with being intimidated by the learning curve. Also thinking that spending all my time on last hitting/denying is a bit silly, but that’s for another time, and wasn’t the reason I uninstalled it.

    Anyway, toxicity. Unlike Pip I had no friends playing and was purely in public pickup games, and people in those are fucking horrible (at least at low levels) with a mix of general insults and threats – the very last game I played, after I fucked up (got killed going too close to a tower chasing a kill on someone with a sliver of health, I’ll hold my hands up and say it was a poor decision) someone said they’d trace my IP, come round my house with a knife, and cut off all my fingers and toes and gouge my eyes out . I should have reported them, but I was a bit upset by that and just closed and uninstalled the game, and have never touched it since. I concluded that the public game community was a bunch of absolute cunts and I wanted nothing to do with them.
    (Also, they can say less than 1% of players are toxic, but given it’s one of the, if not the, most played game(s) on Steam that could be a hell of a lot of people.)

    So, maybe things improve at higher levels, as Pip finds in her public/pickup games, but I found at low levels there’s a horrible barrier for new players.

    • AngoraFish says:

      These articles are typically written by good players, and their examples of bad behaviour are generally abuse from complete morons who are so clueless that they don’t realise that they are in fact the ones playing poorly. In cases such as these, it’s pretty easy to get over the fact that you were abused by a moron; in fact, there’s a vague satisfaction associated with knowing that someone’s proved that they are a moron all over again by also acting like a dick.

      In practice, if you happen to be a poor player (or beginner) such as me, the abuse flows pretty readily. A couple of years ago, at least, when I last had the stomach to put up with it for a bit, I was abused more or less every single game.

      I get it, by the way. These are TEAM games, and a poor team member can genuinely ruin it for four other competent players. This differs, to a large extent, from games such as TF2 where there are a lot more players, and also where the ‘team’ side of things is much more marginal to soloing bullet-hell servers with no death timer.

      MOBA abuse is also not helped by the fact that games take 45 bloody minutes, and I understand that getting stuck with some useless pub for 45 minutes staring at inevitable defeat is nobody’s idea of a good time – particularly if you’ve knocked off work and you’ve only got time for one good game before you need to get off to bed.

      For those of us, however, who neither have four friends consistently on tap to play with, nor any particular talent in or experience with the game, MOBA abuse is inevitably going to remain a total nightmare, even if couched in more ‘moderate’ phrasing without copious swearing. To be honest, a repetitive chorus of “we lost because of Angora”, and similar criticism, are plenty enough to turn me off the game without triggering a reportable offense.

      There are some solutions I can think of that might improve things just a little bit.

      Firstly, matchmaking needs to be far more sophisticated than simple win loss ratios. It needs to factor in such things as how many times someone has played with a particular character, a player’s kill/heal counts (as appropriate for each hero), total hours spent in game, and some kind of analysis of builds and levelling in previous games.

      Secondly, ideally, there would be some mechanism to consistently match you with a small pool of players, so that everyone was levelling broadly together and learning each other’s play style. Preferably this would be coupled with the ability to easily perma-ban insufferable players.

      Thirdly, some degree of self-selected age-based matching wouldn’t hurt either. I somewhat suspect that in some cases what I interpret as abuse is, in fact, more or less seen as normal conversation for some groups of teenagers and young adults.

      • dotstdy says:

        Well you’re matched with people of your skill level, so they’re pretty much always as bad as you are. The personal ability on different heroes is very rarely a game losing thing (unless they’re terrible and playing meepo) and this is even more true at low skill levels.

        Lower skill levels do seem to be significantly more horrible though, Dunning Krueger at its finest I guess.

        • AngoraFish says:

          Well you’re matched with people of your skill level.

          That’s the theory, but in my experience it’s a very broad brush matching algorithm. Most likely just matching people who have a similar number of total wins.

          This doesn’t allow for a range of relevant circumstances, such as a very experienced player like Pip trying on a completely new hero and being dogs balls at it, and getting abused for that. Or indeed, a newbie who’s still trying out a few characters to see what suits their play style, versus another newbie who’s exclusively playing the character they were introduced to in the tutorial and has started to get some kind of handle on it.

          • dotstdy says:

            You’re really overestimating how much of a difference that makes. People will abuse you for dumb stuff regardless of if you’re better than them or not, whether the game is going badly because of you or not. This is always true in low skill games because nobody has the faintest idea what’s happening. :)

            People too, forget that the majority of players in the majority of games are perfectly reasonable, nice and friendly. For all the scare MOBAs aren’t really any different from other competitive multiplayer games.

          • AngoraFish says:

            It’s true that some people are arseholes, and many are not. Nonetheless, the reputation that MOBAs have for toxic communities is very real, and in my experience as a gamer of over 20 years, quite unique to the genre.

            Most other multiplayer games either simply don’t turn in the same way on the actions of one crap player, or if they do, I can’t think of a single one that forces the losing team to play out the game for another half an hour or more beyond the point at which everyone knows what the outcome is going to be.

            MOBAs have small highly interconnected teams, long game lengths, require an enormous knowledge/skill curve including familiarity with a very specific meta, they are virtually impossible to play vaguely competitively without voice-chat, are designed in such a way that small differences in skill can rapidly translate into runaway leads, and have player bases of literally hundreds of thousands with literally thousands of hours of playtime each.

            MOBAs have a confluence of factors that lead to a perfect storm of motivation to be a dickhead to others – particularly so when matched with players who haven’t invested quite the same effort in the game as they have.

            And as has already been emphasised, beginners get the largest shit cake of the lot by some significant margin. Where, for some random reason, I’ve managed to build a bit of a kill streak I’ve not suffered anywhere near the same level of abuse. In fact, in those games I ended up with 3-4 random friend requests at the end of the game from both teams. It’s really not so bad after all when one actually does know what one is doing, or at least appears to.

          • wengart says:

            That sort of matchmaking system would be impossible though. You pick heroes once you are in the game and not before hand.

            I play Broodmother (Dota 2) almost exclusively and have a 60% win rate. However, I might decide to play someone else and the game can’t know that.

            A more direct path of teaching new players the ropes would be good. Dota 2 has that in the limited hero pool mode although I don;t think they push it enough.

            I think a lot of the issues that plague new players could be solved with a robust tutorial system teaching tactical, strategic, and meta skills. Then graduating players to a limited hero pool with the ability for more experienced players to drop in and drop out to coach them (I have enough time this morning to coach a new player through the early game but not enough time to play a full game. I would definitely hop on that opportunity), possibly muting all other players except for pings and drawing on the map, directing players to the hero guides, and then graduating them to real gameplay.

            Couple problems with this:

            1. How do you decide someone is new? Right now you play 5 games to determine your rank where you can be placed with players who are new or have played for hundreds of hours. Do you continue that system or force competent players through the beginner’s tutorial system?

            2. You can’t talk to your allies or opponents. So you lose a lot of the learning that comes from shared knowledge. On the other hand you avoid trash tier assholes.

            However, the benefits would be nice for new players. They would gain basic skills and basic knowledge of the meta. They’ll know how to last hit, decent ward placement areas, how to call missing, and know that if they pick a hard carry their team is probably relying on them to come online around the 30 minute mark.

    • jrodman says:

      I would suggest you should have done both. Reported AND uninstalled.

      Reported because assholes playing games should be weeded out, and reporting is part of that process. Uninstalled, because who has time for that kind of crap?

  7. Ishy says:

    As someone who played dota 2 by hard-disabling voice chat, muting everyone at the start of every game, and eventually also hard-disabling (albeit only partially is possible) pings, I can highly recommend that for a certain sort of player.

    When I picked up HotS I tried a different tack, kind of in line with the above comment about cats. I generally don’t respond to anything negative, I mute when it gets excessive, etc.. Strategic suggestions and team-wide compliments on successes, that sort of thing.

    But what I’ve been thinking about is the consideration that communication skills seem to be left out of players and game systems’ consideration of how good they are. In my view, if you are prone to be negative towards other players, you’re bad at a very significant part of the game, on top of a more subjective badness in the sense of needless cruelty.. would love to take a fork into Valve’s metrics on this topic, guh.

    • Everblue says:

      This is exactly right. Team morale is massively important, and if you are bad at it then it’s a significant drag on your improvement.

      Case in point – last night our offlaner INSISTED on playing Axe solo offlane, then died twice early and refused to keep trying in his lane, instead moving to the jungle, where he competed with our Ursa for creeps. Axe and Ursa began arguing with each other, which dragged in our Legion Commander carry, and by about 8 minutes in those three were just flaming non-stop. After a while LC died a couple of times too, and declared the game over at 10 minutes (we were 1-6 down at that point and had lost a tower, bad but not irrecoverable), and just farmed for the remainder of the game, refusing to participate in any way.

      After a while, frustrated at the fact that we were not getting rolled over and were doing ok, he began to steal our wards and plant them around the base, as well as deliberately feeding. What can you do with people like that, who turn a game you had a chance of winning into an auto loss?

  8. neoncat says:

    World of Tanks is the only multiplayer battle thingie I spend much time with these days, but I do find that its larger teams (15 aside) and shorter matches (<10 min, usually) make it much less important when some of your team sucks in various ways (whether abusive, unsupportive, or simply lost). Often the team will simply kill off a player who's being a jerk.

    All of which is to say, I can't imagine committing to a lengthy moba match with randoms.

    It also helps when you know you're just better than all the other players, so you can roflolz all day at their petty barbs. ^_^

  9. Old Rusty Dusty says:

    This article just reaffirms the ultimate question – Why the hell would anyone in their right mind waster their limited time playing MOBA’s? By far in my opinion MOBA’s represent the asshole of the gaming-being, overtly simplistic and full of blithering idiots dying for attention.

    My life is already far too short to even have free time for gaming at all, MOBA’s appear to be the equivalent of MMO’s plagued with tumors and retardation all over. From what I’ve witnessed in my limited experience, the gameplay is mildly interesting at best, and paired with an idiotic and self-centered community, I just can’t fathom why anyone would want to sink so many hours into such a disappointing experience.

    There are so many better games out there with more interesting and supportive communities– hell scratch that with life in general there are simply so many more interesting and educational things which you could be doing than playing a MOBA. I’d rather be brewing beer, working on cars, and dabbling with a bit of Cities Skylines and Rougelikes on the side.

    You couldn’t pay me to play a godawful MOBA, the fact alone that half the article is spent justifying the detractors is evidence enough that these games aren’t worth your time. And you know what, I’ll end this begging someone to tell me that I’m wrong, I’d love to hear a counter-argument for why these games are “fun”, because I’m an open-minded person and if they’re so popular there’s got to be some level of appeal. But if that appeal is simply bored teenagers with nothing else to do and limitless time, then no I’m not impressed… prove me wrong.

    • dotstdy says:

      Well I still enjoy reading RPS’ comments section despite the occasional over-aggressive and childishly worded opinion. It’s almost like some people enjoy saying polarising things online just to provoke others.

      It’s pretty similar to that.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Except that one isn’t forced to read RPS comment sections for a minimum of 40 minutes at a time, every time.

        • dotstdy says:

          Haha I guess not. :)

        • Purdurabo says:

          You are not forced to read chat in a game either. That is why the mute system exists.

          • Distec says:

            But isn’t that a bit ridiculous in a team game that arguably requires communication?

          • Alto says:

            Not really, maybe in high-level pubs advanced communication is valuable, but in my mid-level pubs 95% of communication can be handled with pings.

            Ping a tower, lets take/defend it.
            Ping a hero, let’s kill them.
            Ping the Roshan pit, let’s take Roshan.

            And there is most of the strategy mid-level pub players like myself can understand.

    • Purdurabo says:

      I stopped reading at overly simplistic. You obviously have no clue what you are talking about. Dota 2 has over a hundred heroes with thousands of different interactions between heroes, skills and items. The biggest problem with dota2 is the extreme learning curve for new players.

  10. pirusu says:

    As someone who doesn’t play Dota2 (but loves watching, it’s my favorite esport, honestly), but does play Heroes of the Storm, I wonder how much is due to high levels of play (like, at the professional level).

    A lot of what I’ve noticed in esports, at the highest levels, are arrogant/cocky players who often have bad manners. While thinking about it, I thought this might be the reason why the communities are so bad, but “real” sports (athletics?) has similar personalities, and I’m sure trash-talking goes on on the football (or american football) field/pitch/court/etc.

    The difference, I think, is accessibility. Most of us (I would assume) wouldn’t consider sports stars as our peers. Infact, I would say most of the public wouldn’t consider sports starts their peers. People who DO play, play with a group of friends (which this article and comments point out as a good way to avoid the toxic nature).

    However, games are so ubiquitous now, even people I don’t consider gamers have heard of or played games. An old family friend, with 3 children of her own, knows what League of Legends is (her children play). And it’s easier for us to think “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could make money playing video games?”

    Even if we recognize that esports at the highest levels requires the same kind of gift/talent/skill that playing regular sports does, I find it much easier to think of myself as closer to an elite dota2 player than an elite football star.

    Even if I were the fittest in my life, I doubt I’d ever be able to run a sub-five second 120m dash. But I could probably spend countless hours practicing and play on a professional Dota/League/Heroes/Starcraft team.

    Which isn’t to say it’s true, just something I was thinking about.

    • Goat.of.Space says:

      As far as DOTA is concerned, i personally do not remember any professional game where the players were not exceptionally behaved. Pauses are always obeyed. There is never any flaming, or even gloating. Even if something is typed in all chat it is either merely to convey information or a way for the teams to joke/banter with each other. There may be professional games where people abused but I haven’t seen any. In other words, to the best of my knowledge there is no Idra in professional dota.

      I am not speaking about you tubers and streamers by the way, as I don’t think I watch enough of them.

      • pirusu says:

        There was a game recently where rotk? mushi? I don’t remember who, but they left right after his team called gg, which caused the game to pause for a disconnect which was a little bad mannered, but you’re right. I guess I was mostly referring to streams and social media. Tournaments are usually much more strict.

        • Sheltered says:

          Games don’t automatically pause if someone disconnects. Probably someone (either an enemy player or some admin in the lobby) saw him disconnect without noticing the GG and paused. Better safe than sorry.
          Also, it’s not considered rude in any way to quit after GG, since up to two years ago it was the only way to end a lobby (calling GG would do nothing, like in pubs), and a lot of players still do that unconsciously.

          • jrodman says:

            Dota 2 does now auto-pause on disconnect. This was new maybe 6 months ago.

          • Sheltered says:

            Oh, i missed that change in league matches, thanks for pointing it out. Anyway, even in pause, it shouldn’t stop the GG countdown, unless it’s buggy. And my point stands, it’s not considered bad manners to disconnect after GG, unless the tournament explicitly forbids it.

          • jrodman says:

            You can cancel a GG, so it makes sense to me that you could pause if you wanted to reconsider with your team. I have seen accidental gg timer triggers in pro matches from both typos and from initial well-wishing.

            In DAC2015, there were two specific instances where people disconnected out early during gg timer and they were both very clearly expressions of annoyance/frustration at the game. One of them was an upset where iG lost.

            One reason it’s BM is it messes up the conclusion of the match. Especially if you stutter the disconnects, as they did (unintentionally), the game ends up having to be unpaused 3-4 times in a row, with a 3 second countdown over and over. But it’s more about the rules of decorum in China where it’s clearly not following the forms so definitely seen as bad manners in context, as it’s seen as disrespectful. In another region it might be seen as an ambiguous action, done without thought.

          • Sheltered says:

            I completely understand your point, but giving the option to pause the GG timer is lame, i’ll try to explain why: if you GG and then pause “to think about it” you put the other team in the wrong mental state. If you want to pause to reason about a GG, you should first cancel the GG countdown, and then pause. Better even if you just pause before calling GG at all. To be clear: I’m not saying the game shouldn’t be paused if someone disconnects, it’s just that the timer for the GG should continue to run. If they disagree and someone in the team wants to continue the game, then the one who disagrees should cancel the ticking countdown. They don’t need to be in-game to talk about it (no one uses in-game chat for anything more than a pub game).

            Regarding disconnections after GG, I can assure you it’s not considered BM unless the tournament rules explicitly talk about it. Or at least it wasn’t up to the lame addition of the autopause blocking GG countdown. As I said in the previous post, lots of pro players do it unconsciously even in casual pub matches, quitting before the stats screen appears to not waste time. It’s 2 years since GG’s started to end lobby games, but most of them played for more than 5 years with the obligation to quit: not leaving readily meant wasting winning team’s time, and THAT was considered to be really bad manners. There were even some tournaments (TI4 to name just one) that requested winning team not to quit, because often it happened that the whole winning team quit before the losing team (and that then needed a manual edit to the replay and database).

            To sum it up: as you surely can understand, quitting like 30 times a day after every game takes little time to become something you do mechanically, without thinking. And it’s really hard to get rid of it once you’re not supposed to do that anymore. My point is, don’t try to read too much into a pro player quitting after GG. Sure having lost they’re not happy, but most of them are actively “fighting” against the mechanicism.

          • jrodman says:

            No, I can assure you that everyone who was watching the match at the time, including the official commenters in multiple languages called it BM.

          • jrodman says:

            If you don’t believe it was deliberately done, you’re wrong. The context has already been explained. You weren’t watching the game. You’re just in denial. How annoying.

          • jrodman says:

            I just want to add how *fitting* this is.

            You’re over 6 months out of date on game conclusion mechanics.
            You didn’t watch the games in question.
            You seem unable to grasp that cultural issues vary by region.
            And yet somehow you believe you’re the expert on the situation.

            Dota pub mentality right there.

      • jrodman says:

        There are a couple of examples, but they are few.

        1 – Mason during TI4 qualifiers “get out of this game you bunch of apes” To him it was a joke, but it was still BM, just mixed with humor.

        2 – Back during TI2 qualfiers, I forget the specifics. I didn’t know all the names yet, and it’s longer ago, but someone was accusing someone else of “being a fag”. Not the opposing team, but still an allchat during an extremely high profile game.

        There’s also the ambiguous comment from godot “I will cum on you :D :D” which I interpret as purely humor during the TI5 SEA qualifiers.

        Overall though, I’ve viewed hundreds of pro matches, and seen interviews with how the players talk about each other and so on. Those are the only examples I have.

        Trash talking is extremely rare. Unfortunate posturing over awkward DDOS scenarios is a little more common in north/south American Dota but it’s nearly always civil. I have seen veiled suggestions that teams are pausing in order to get intel about the game by pausing enough to catch the time-delay up to real-time. That’s the worst it’s ever been.

        The camaraderie level overall is really damn high. People are very good friends with their rivals. We’ll see if that holds true as the expected growth of the “sport” continues.

        If anything the only notable gaps in civility/professionalism have come from Dota commentators, but that also has taken an overall positive trend.

  11. Jackablade says:

    If I might make a mostly uneducated musing, it seems like most of the problems in this game come from being overly complicated – far too many variables stemming from a vast roster of characters and items compounding an already complex experience.

    I’m wondering whether you could develop a MOBA that cut out that fat to a small selection of distinct characters. Think your TF2 guys (or pre- extra weapon and hat release at least). Scout is thin and lanky, runs fast and jumps high,but lacks much punch and health. Heavy is big, slow and has a lot of health and a big gun. Everything is immediately clear at a glance, even when there is an enormous firefight going on. Is there any reason you couldn’t work that kind of of simplicity and clarity into a MOBA?

    • mjrmua says:

      Because the complexity is the attraction.

    • AngoraFish says:

      You’re more or less describing what Blizzard’s MOBA Heroes of the Storm is trying to do. I’m sure that there is a market for that.

      • Xocrates says:

        While I agree that there’s certainly a market for it, I very much disagree that’s what HotS is trying to do.

        HotS has a lot of bizarre heroes, and lots of hidden power. Even if the talent system essentially locks each champion into one of two viable paths, meaning that each character role is much more static, they’re still a far cry of the TF2 approach – not least of which because the low number of champs is due to how recent the game is, not an intended aspect (for comparison, LoL was released with 40 champs. HotS is in its 30 now).

  12. WantOn says:

    One of the best gaming decisions I ever made was to stop playing MOBAs. Truly horrible experience if you are trying to solo queue. Hardly surprising when the game mechanics are designed such that a bad player feeds the opposite team resources, as opposed to just hindering their own side. Maybe its supposed to bring the end about quicker, but it just frustrates and irritates those on the same side as the game fan be finished before its even started.

  13. dorobo says:

    Reporting works but there’s just too much players in dota. Just quit the game for good!

  14. mjrmua says:

    Have any of these mobas tried to solve the toxicity problem by having players self report their need to be a doofus?

    Like having a separate game mode, or match-making filter so they can be paired with others who enjoy more “robust” in game discussions.

  15. sonson says:

    Three general maxims I apply in DOTA

    1) Regardless of circumstances you can always learn or teach something. If you’re the lowest XP member you can take it as an opportunity to pay attention to what better players are doing and how and learn from that rather than just feel bad about yourself.

    If you’re more experienced you can offer to help other people and put together a smoke gank or something or take the game by the scruff of the neck (respectfully). People might not respond but they often will, in my experience. Especially if if it works. I’ve started to win quite a bit more as a result of communicating a battle plan or need to push in advance to people if it becomes apparent they maybe lack in game awareness. Most people are grateful of it. And playing DOTA in terms of input isn’t hard, its the situational knowledge which really counts. If you can communicate that to people who otherwise wouldn’t know it chances are it will help the team. You have more chances of winning and having a good time working together doing that rather than just flaming someone for being not as good as you had hoped.

    2) Having said all that-I’m happy to give off to someone who won’t shut up. Especially if they’re being unkind to someone else. Worse thing you can do to a bully is just let them have their platform in my experience. And report them of course.

    3) Someone who is playing what appears to be selfishly-more of a grey area, because it’s possible to feed not buy wards, run away all the time in equal fights etc just on account of being new to the game. But if it becomes apparent that it’s a problem in a tight game, or if after checking their profile I can see they’ve more than a hundred games under their belt I will let them know politely that they should stick with the team because their solo approach is harming our game and helping theirs. If in that case they still keep up with the harmful behaviour I’ll let them know that they’re being a routine problem. Because they are and it’s not fair. If you don’t want to play a team game with random people then you shouldn’t. I won’t ever let it cross over into personal insult, but I’ll be sure to point out if Troll Warlord is far because they fed him 7 times in the jungle in spite of him being starved in lane for the first ten minutes.

    4) I don’t experiment on random pubs unless that’s the mood of the game. Or if I want to, I will ask them beforehand if they’re ok with it. For the same reason as above. There are single player modes whereby I can practice the critical stuff without having to worry about wasting other people’s time and losing them the game because I don’t know how they work.

    • sonson says:

      Four Maxims. Four. Surprise, Fear, Ruthless Efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

  16. Hieronymusgoa says:

    when the game starts i always write:
    “hey everyone, gl and hf. if someone flames for whatever reason i mute them instantly.”

    i try to play my best, i expect them to do the same. whatever the rage reason, i dont care :)
    i dont rage and I will never get how someone can get so worked up over a game.

  17. Fenix says:

    I guess it depends on personality, but I am incredibly difficult to offend, especially on an online game so I generally always try to say silly things and get people to stop being dicks when someone’s being a dick.

    Having said that, I queue with a friend sometimes and even though he’s a really nice guy, sometimes he gets in pretty awful arguments and abuse-flinging with randoms which makes the game uncomfortable for me :(

  18. tnankie says:


    Ah the warding issue. When I am given excessive grief regarding the ward situation these days I buy 6 iron branches and put them on the courier and leave them there. (For non dota players, the courier is a means of delivering items to you in your lane, this is a shared resource with limited to six slots. It is the supports job to buy this and then upgrade it as well as wards. So I’ve effectively removed it from the game as other people can’t take my items out of the slots.)

  19. DoktorV says:

    I poked at the original Defense of the Ancients in WarCraft 3 a bit, then years later tried LoL and DotA2, and never really liked any of them. I didn’t encounter much corrosive interaction with other players, and even if I had it probably wouldn’t have bothered me. I just found that the potential enjoyment didn’t seem to be worth the enormous complexity of the learning curve, and this is coming from a man who enjoys Dwarf Fortress. However, the main reason I didn’t stick with any of the MOBAs was because of the effect I saw they were having on some of my friends.

    Every person I know who has played MOBAs for any serious amount of time has gradually developed a fairly consistent set of personality changes: They don’t necessarily commit any abuse outside of the game, but show increased acceptance of abusive behavior committed by others (both in games and out), blame-the-victim reasoning, and belittlement of the intelligence of people who stopped playing MOBAs for whatever reason.

    • davethejuggler says:

      I’d find that worrying if it didn’t come from some dullard who had to quit for lack of smarts… :P

  20. Orontes says:

    I used to solo queue a lot in ranked play, but now find it a no-go zone thanks to abuse and general uncooperative play. I’m almost afraid to say “let’s push the tower”, “more wards pls”, etc. for fear of being shouted at or people bitching at me. Communication is a big problem- English isn’t usually the first language of most of my teammates and talking becomes awkward.

    I also had an unpleasant run-in with some arsehole who declared the game lost at 10 min after me and my lane partner died once. He would not stop complaining, so I immaturely told him to shut up repeatedly before finally muting him. He then played on his own, just split pushing while the rest of the team died and all our towers were destroyed. I admit that I behaved rather badly in reaction to his whining, but it does get to you when you’re trying your best and failing and have someone constantly pointing out how bad you are playing.

    That said, you do get some good times in solo queue- I was complimented for my support plays on at least 2 occasions while playing Omniknight, which was rather lovely. In the end though, compliments in solo Dota are thin on the ground, and insults far too common, which means that it is no longer enjoyable, even healthy, for me to do solo queue.

    Sad really.