I Predict a Riot: Making and Breaking Rules and Norms in League of Legends

Donaldson Scott
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

This paper examines the relationships between player community norms and developer-created rules of play in the competitive team game, League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009). Since the game’s release, players have established their own sets of strategic norms – much like player positioning systems in sport – which are used as a de facto baseline for play at all levels of competition. Since these norms are distinct from the game developer’s rules concerning online behaviour, however, it is unclear as to whether individual players have the ‘right’ to enact experimental game strategies that fall outside of the pre-existing framework. In November of 2016, however, it was revealed in one of the game’s online community hubs that a player had been threatened with a permanent account ban after repeatedly engaging in one such experimental strategy. A study of the following discussion as it played out within the player community shows that players are aware of larger issues concerning meaning-making in competitive League of Legends, and that they identify the game developer as a key figure in this ongoing process.