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'League of Legends' Tries Teamwork to Rein In Rage

Be a team player

Online gaming tends to bring out the worst in people, and the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre can be a particularly nasty battlefield. "League of Legends," one of the most popular MOBAs out there, has made consistent strides toward rewarding good behavior and punishing wrongdoers, and its latest tactic is no exception.

The teamwork initiative

On Sept. 11, the "League of Legends" team at Riot Games released a video called "Teamwork OP" on YouTube, which sums up the advantages of cooperation and sportsmanship neatly.

"Teamwork plays a bigger role in 'League' than you might think," says the narrator. "What some players fail to understand is that epic comebacks don't come from berating your teammates. Rage doesn't win games."

To illustrate, the narrator describes a situation in which a player makes a lot of early-game mistakes. As "League of Legends" is a fast-paced game and early victories or failures often compound themselves, this can obviously be a very frustrating situation.

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"Before you know it, he's throwing a tantrum," the narrator explains. "You could go full five-year-old on him, yell and scream and give him hell because, of course, that'll help the situation improve … It makes more sense to focus on winning. Help your teammate out."

The free-to-play "League of Legends" faces frequent accusations of having a particularly toxic online community, and it's easy to see how tempers can flare in a MOBA.

For the uninitiated, in a MOBA, each player takes control of a hero who wanders the map fighting enemies, buying helpful items, and leveling up special abilities. The goal is to destroy key enemy structures, backed up by computer-controlled minions at regular intervals. As a result, timing is key, and the smallest error can tip the scales entirely in the enemy's favor.

According to Riot, the benefits of teamwork are more than just psychological. "League of Legends" tracks player behavior by encouraging players to commend polite teammates and report abusive ones. The company found that teams with sportsmanlike players won approximately 1.7 million more games each day than average players.

Even average players are better off than people who lose their tempers. A team of average players will win 54 percent of their matches, while that number sinks to 46 percent when three ragers take the field. Correlative data also suggests that teams that support each other earn way more gold early-game, allowing them to dominate the field later on.

Overall, Riot found that teams with good-natured players won 10 percent more games than teams with average players. Ten percent may not sound like much, but it's much better than the alternative: teams with ragers win 35 percent fewer games than an average team.