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Bombs away, League} ?> Hurling bombs is no way to win parents to your side. That’s what I feel in response to “Open Letter to Parents of League of Legends Players,” posted on the LoL forums.
Look, I get it. I hate it when players quit early regardless of the reason, regardless of the game. There are few things more frustrating when you’re pushing your lane than the support disappearing like bacon for breakfast. But I have to ask, what is your end game?
Do you really want to reach out to parents and have them acquiesce to your request and preserve the integrity of the game, or do you simply want to rally the chorus of players that already agrees with you?
The way I read it, as both a gamer and a parent, I feel like it was the latter and the former was completely missed.
The points made are solid: Teaching kids responsibility for their actions, honouring their commitments, and recognizing that there are real people on the other end of the matrix. It is easy to see why Kotaku called the lessons “sensible,” and if you can get to the heart of the concern, I’d agree.
But this letter is not going to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. There’s a reason why Gabe from Penny Arcade responded the way he did (with a rage that burns like a thousand suns). Suggesting that Gabe simply missed the point and dismissing his argument entirely with, “I was disappointed that they got it wrong, but oh well,” suggests that perhaps you are the one who missed the point.
The proverb “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” is highly applicable here. Similarly appropriate is the saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” The point is, IF you want a parent to change, you need to realize two things:
1. Parents love their children more than you can ever hope to comprehend and are therefore HIGHLY protective of them.
2. By extension, parents are highly defensive about their parenting choices. If someone comes into my house and tells me how to parent my kid, it doesn’t matter if they are Dr. Phil, they won’t be in my house for much longer and may have a boot print to remind them why.
The letter should inform rather than confront. Perhaps running it by a few parents and then a few more to be sure, especially parents who don’t have a hot clue what the acronym for “laugh out loud” means, much less League of Legends.
A far more effective letter would have begun something like this:
We love that you allow your child to roll with us in League of Legends. They are learning skills like hand-eye coordination, teamwork, and leadership.
Here’s a problem we’re experiencing that we could use your help with. Starting a game is an informal social contract where you are saying your intention is to actually finish the game. It’s frustrating for players to have been working together when suddenly one of your star players steps off the ice (court, field, or whatever sports analogy hits home). A common story we hear is that it’s supper time or it’s bed time, and so the computer has to be turned off immediately.
We get it. When it’s time to get off the computer, it’s time to get off the computer. When it’s time to sit down and eat with the family – it is time to sit down and eat with the family. When it’s time for bed, it’s time to bed. We want to support you in that AND help make your kids understand the importance of time management and these social contracts.
If your child plays League of Legends, would it be possible to talk to them about when it is appropriate to start a match and when it is not? Starting a game with 5 minutes left to go before bedtime is a poor decision to start with because their actions have an impact on more than just themselves. It will help our community and because your child is a welcome part of our community, it will help them too.
Thanks for everything you do as a parent.
— Signed, the League of Legends player base
Inviting parents into a conversation about building better community and shaping their kids into more responsible people makes them feel less defensive, in my opinion. Hurling demands at them from the anonymity of the internet will get you no where. In this fight, you want to be a little more Sona and a little less Ziggs.
Know that as a gamer, I am in your corner! I would just love to see an open letter that incites conversation instead of invokes the wrath of God.