Online toxicity as violence in esports: a League of Legends case study
This thesis aims to explore toxicity within esports using a case study of the game League of Legends. Toxicity has become increasingly problematic as online media become more popular, in particular with the growth of online gaming.
Gaming has experienced significant growth over the past decade, with an estimated net worth of 200 billion dollars by 2023. A burgeoning sector of gaming is esports, worth 950 million dollars in 2020 and estimated to be worth 1600 million by 2023. Esports are video games played professionally; they draw many elements from traditional sports but exist as their own distinct phenomena.
The thesis explores toxicity using the lens of violence to better understand its causes and potential solutions. This means exploring online toxicity as a form of non-physical violence as it appears in the League of Legends online community, including both its fans and industry professionals. The lens of violence allows this thesis to incorporate a wider scope of literature, most notably that of sports literature, to address toxicity.
By comparing and contrasting the two contexts of esports and sports along with literature on sports violence, this thesis constructs an understanding of violence in esports, its associated causes, outcomes, and potential solutions. Issues of violence have increasing importance as esports continue to grow and expand their audience, compounding the impacts of toxic behaviour. Given esports culture is new and currently being shaped, action taken now will determine the future of this rapidly growing industry and its community.