In one of my recent videos I received a couple of disgruntled comments from viewers who thought I was being bad mannered in the gameplay footage I was showing. By a couple I mean one or two, but that’s still one or two more than I usually get. Perplexed, I scoured the footage to see if I could find these instances of “BM” behaviour – afterall, I don’t want to unintentionally offend people and I don’t want to come across as a rude person, because I actively try not to be. What I found were examples of misunderstanding (I said bgwp after the enemy team had two D/Cs) and phrases taken out of context. Whereas there was ultimately nothing rude about my behaviour that game, it did make me think about the issue of “bad manners” and its awkward role in a competitive environment, specifically League of Legends.
First and foremost, what constitutes “bad manners”? What differentiates this behaviour from standard toxicity? The issue is that bad manners is a grey area with no strict definition. It is ultimately the perception of the people involved that defines whether something is BM or not. Seeing as it is subjective, it is very hard to introduce a ‘code of honour’ to prevent bad manners because what’s acceptable and what’s not is far from transparent. In contrast, toxicity is unanimously identified and (mostly) condemned, so punishing someone for calling you a “dumb shit” is pretty black and white.
Take a look at the expertly constructed graph below (complete with Comic Sans for extra effect). If I were to give you a bunch of phrases or actions that were common in everyday League games and ask you to put them on the graph, chances are your answers would differ from someone else when it came to the middle section of the “knobhead scale”. When all is said and done, this is the problem with trying to separate the banter from the bad manners.
I want to take a look in detail at some instances of bad manners and see if there are any similarities or patterns that can be used to forge a deeper understanding of why these conflicts appear. Through that, perhaps a conclusion can be drawn as to whether such conflicts can be avoided, minimised, or if it’s ultimately inevitable.
The first examples of subjectively defined behavour are the “jokes” or “sarcastic smack talk” given at the expense of other players. Usually this will occur after a player has made a mistake; think of the times when your jungler tried to dive their Nasus and ended up feeding a double kill, and then Nasus types in all chat “nice dive”. Or when the enemy jungler steals your dragon and they say “thanks” in /all. Objectively speaking, these phrases are not outright offensive – it’s not like you are being told that your mother is a frenzied promiscuous woman and you should go gargle a bag of male genitalia (or words to that effect).
It is also true, though, that these phrases are poking fun at an unfortunate situation (your misplay). I think there would be a general consensus that these phrases are, even at their best, somewhat dickish. But are they really worth some kind of punishment and should it be discouraged? Smack talk is prominent in any form of competition and it can lead to some very intense build-up and rivalries. In a solo queue setting, however, there’s no rivalry – you will never see these people again and any built up tension will disappear as soon as the game ends. As an extension to that point, there is also “retaliation BM”. The easiest example of this would be if you failed your flash and received a “nice flash” comment from the enemy, and then that same enemy fails their flash later on and you chirp out a “nice flash” response. From a retribution standpoint, this is justice at its sweetest. Yet from a neutral point of view, does this make you just as bad as the instigator? Are you now running for Mayor of Bellendshire too?
Another example involves quite possibly the most hated two word phrase in all of League. No, not Captain Teemo. I’m talking about the people who end the game saying “gg easy”. This phrase serves to discredit the entirety of the game you just played, all the blood, sweat and tears, and essentially calls you a scrub while also implying you were nothing but a zit on their arse cheek.
That’s quite disrespectful to say the least. But, similar to the last example, “gg easy” is not toxic in its purest form. It’s rude and unnecessary- pretty much the definition of BM – but it doesn’t tell you to sodomise yourself with your keyboard or go renew your West Ham United season tickets. It’ll make you roll your eyes and murmur “what a wanker” under your breath, but does it really deserve punishment? This is a very interesting point because Riot has actually previously stated that “gg easy” is in fact a bannable offense.
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I feel as though that’s one of the weaker reasons for getting banned, but Riot’s decision on this matter may set precedent for other “BM” cases. That said, “gg easy” is met with almost universal hatred and is an easy target for Riot to blacklist – other actions that harvest mixed opinions will not be so easy to make a decision on.
The professional environment also sees its fair share of “BMing”. Doublelift is probably the easiest target for any form of “BM” discussion. He is well known for his trashtalk and dishes out some strong opinions regarding the “trashness” of other players. Although mostly in good fun and not serious, some of his comments are, objectively speaking, quite insulting. If it reads as an insult and is then also perceived as an insult, does it really matter if it was never intended to insult (i.e it was banter)? Would it be better if he didn’t say those things, and does it influence the actions of others who then feel it’s acceptable to talk that way?
It’s not just words, however, where an argued “BM” occurs. The topic of “showboating” appeared when there was a small controversy with the newly formed Alliance team versus Dignitas in Battle of the Atlantic. A dominant Alliance, knocking down the doors of the Nexus for another win, decided to 5 man fountain dive for some frags. This was perceived by the community as rude and insulting and resulted in public apologies from the Alliance players, despite the fact that it is not (or ever will be) strictly against the rules and the players did not face any form of official punishment from Riot. In their apology, the players stated that they never had any ill intentions.
Despite them not meaning to be “BM”, were they still guilty of being so? The apologies were mostly smart PR (anyone insulted would feel somewhat eased, yet anyone who saw nothing wrong with it would not think any less of the team, it’s a no lose situation) but may not have necessarily reflected a true opinion of the public.
From looking at these points, there seems to be one obvious similarity: a disconnect between how something is intended and how it is received. More specifically, one party intends something to be playful/harmless/banter, yet the opposite party perceives it as disrespectful or rude. With that in mind, does preventing or policing BM behaviour become utterly futile due to the overwhelmingly subjective elements involved? Perhaps. But I’d also like to give my personal input on the matter aswell. To me, there are two criteria which justify whether or not you should get offended by something – severity and intentions.
If someone doesn’t intend something to be offensive then I find it hard to be offended by it – even if someone says something that hits home hard. To give a very personal example, my life has been drastically impacted by the effects of cancer. Having lost someone to cancer that I viewed as a mother, I am still quite sore over anything cancer related. Having said that, if a person (be that a friend, stranger, or whatever) says to me “this lag is giving me cancer”, I don’t get offended – hell I don’t even think twice about it.
Yes, comparing a lag spike to getting cancer is unnecessary and yes, it serves to dismiss the very real impacts that cancer has and yes, it also arguably degrades those that have battled or are battling through cancer. But this person didn’t mean any of that. At the end of the day his comment was, at worst, insensitive and thoughtless. His intentions were not malicious. Is that really worth getting upset about? I don’t feel so. I always take this in to account when someone does something considering objectively “bad mannered” – did they intend it that way? No? Then I don’t take it that way.
The severity of the situation is something more black and white. This point relates mostly to trashtalking or “playful banter”. If doublelift tweets “I think Genja is overrated and I’m gonna rek him” then that’s not so severe – it’s fighting words and he better be able to back them up, but it’s not immensely insulting. If he had instead said “Genja is an absolute disgrace to ADC players and I have no idea how is still a pro”; that’s a bit over the top and probably too far. Likewise, a “nice flash” comment doesn’t deserve much of a rise out of you, but continued pestering pushes in to the realms of harassment.
Those are my opinions. Whatever you feel, there is no right or wrong answer; different people have different morals and views. I’m just someone who can’t be arsed to get offended by stuff.
What do you think of the “BM to Bants” argument?