Toxicity in online game communities has become an increasingly important discussion within the video game industry. Hostility toward the diversity that automatically comes with any game that features millions of players has been an issue for too long, and despite companies like Blizzard attempting to reduce Overwatch toxicity, progress has been noticeably slow. It isn’t uncommon for fans of a game like League of Legends to leave despite still enjoying the gameplay because they simply don’t feel welcome anymore.
In the case of League of Legends, however, a truly bizarre instance of bad behavior emerged last week when the game’s developer, Riot Games, terminated an employee for acting in a toxic manner himself. Further complicating things was the fact that the employee in question, Aaron Rutledge, was actually partially involved in the developer’s efforts to reduce poor player behavior online. Rutledge caught up with Glixel to discuss the backlash he received from the community, and his apology:
“I fully respect the decision to terminate me, and if this was one of my former direct reports I’d probably have done the same…I violated the trust of Riot, the best employer I’ve ever had, out of sheer stupidity. There’s no excuse for that kind of toxicity from players or devs. I let you all down, and as a huge fan of the game, I hope I can make amends one day.”
Rutledge, who was drunk at the time he made disparaging statements about League of Legends streamer Tyler1, also added that he believes he has a drinking problem and will now be checking himself into rehab. Although it’s a sad situation, Rutledge appears optimistic about his future in the industry, as well as thankful that the incident was at least able to help him identify a personal problem he needed help in dealing with.
For League of Legends and its ongoing battle with toxicity, however, the incident still comes as a major blow. The game has already garnered a reputation for having a less-than-ideal online community, and with millions of dollars in sponsorships and investments sunk into the future of League of Legends, its public image remaining decent is a huge priority for Riot Games.
League of Legends is available now for PC and Mac.