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League of Legends isn’t as big of a dating don’t as you may think

rakan and xayah
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“If he plays League, run,” they told me. I didn’t listen.

Meme culture claims that League of Legends is gaming’s biggest “dating don’t.” Just mentioning that your significant other plays Riot Games‘ flagship MOBA can be enough to elicit gagging noises or a pained “why” from your internet-savvy friends. Do a quick Reddit search and you’ll find threads berating League players for their lack of accountability and 3D dating choices. But are League or any of its spinoffs actually the problem?

My current boyfriend plays League of Legends, but he’s not the first MOBA fan I’ve gone on multiple dates with. The last guy ended up not working out after he realized he “wasn’t over his ex and needed time to work on himself.” I can’t say that relationship failed because of League, though. He just wasn’t ready for a long-term relationship.

Despite all the warnings, my League dating experiences have been normal, but I’m only one person. To get to the bottom of gaming’s biggest dating faux pas, I asked more than 45 people if playing League of Legends as a hobby would be enough of a reason to swipe left.

In defense of League players

In my very unscientific survey, I specified a League of Legends player as “someone who plays regularly enough for it to be a core part of their identity (multiple times a week for at least an hour).”  I asked straightforward questions like “would you date a League of Legends player?” and “do you think the stereotype is justified?” and left room for participants to explain their answers. I distributed the survey through social media, including on Twitter, Instagram, and Discord servers.

Most people who responded to my survey said that they would consider dating someone who played League of Legends. More than 43% of respondents were women and over 36% were men. The rest identified as nonbinary or preferred not to say. Most who answered said they dedicate multiple hours a week to playing video games, so they were well aware of gaming and internet culture.

The saying goes, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” In this case, it’s the opposite. At least 84% of respondents said League of Legends itself wasn’t enough of a reason to rule a date out entirely. Only seven people said it was a deal breaker.

Season 2024 League of Legends purple monsters art
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“I don’t think an interest in something is enough to immediately disqualify them entirely,” one female respondents writes. “[It’s] about the actual amount of time they spend doing it and the importance of it. Whether it is League or football, if playing that game is more important to them than you or their family and friends, then it becomes a problem.”

The thread about the game becoming more important than your partner is prevalent. When I interviewed Dorothee, a streamer friend who was part of our college’s League of Legends club, she stressed that she’d consider dating another League player if they didn’t prioritize the game over their relationship. “I would prefer if the person I was dating wanted to spend time with me, even if we’re not talking to each other and just in each other’s presence,” she said. “That’s just my preference.”

I don’t think a relatively innocuous hobby is a deal breaker for me.

She once knew a guy who would kick his partner out of the room because even their presence was too distracting during a ranked game. That way, there’d be no need to worry that his significant other could hear him raging while they were sitting in bed or something similar. She also recounted a story of one of her friends waiting over an hour for her boyfriend to open the door to his dorm after she traveled from afar to see him.

Others said that they would actually enjoy dating a League player so that they could play together or bond over shared interests. It wasn’t just League players who wanted to date other League players, either. One respondent said that they would want their bae to teach them how to play.

“I would want to play with them first to see how they handle teaching me to play. And to see how they treat randos,” they write. After all, toxicity is a major turnoff.

league of legends gameplay with turret and minions
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One League player, who admitted to dating one of their own in the past, also said he’d give it another go. “I think it’s a good idea to date someone with common interests, so we could play together if we both enjoyed the game. I don’t think a relatively innocuous hobby is a deal breaker for me,” he says.

Some responses even made me consider that maybe we should be asking people if they would date someone that plays Call of Duty instead. One woman said she would turn down a Fortnite or Call of Duty player before they turned down a League of Legends player because the games are more violent.

“It’s very case-dependent on just how into it they are,” another person commented, “but just like any other sort of potential ,red flag, game (like Call of Duty), it’s a spectrum.”

It’s still a deal breaker for some

To anyone who isn’t deep in gaming meme culture, those responses likely sound reasonable. Common sense would tell you that it’s not right to generalize people because they play a specific game. But other responses I received shed some light on why the game’s fan base has earned a reputation. Some people who’ve dated and befriended League of Legends players are scarred by their experiences. One woman who spent a lot of her time in the community said she’d had enough and quit playing around 2015.

“As someone who used to play League, dated someone who played League, and still knows many people who play League (casually and ranked), everyone has been or still is very toxic and gets overly angry, not just at League,” she writes. “All of the people I know who still play it are still very immature, stubborn, and toxic (mid-20s and older). I have no time for people like that anymore (late 20s) and value my self-worth now.”

Why would I invite that back into my life?

A male respondent also claimed that he wouldn’t consider dating a League player under any circumstances, even though he didn’t have experience in the community itself. “If League is the cesspit I’ve always heard it described to be, then there’s no way anyone who plays it can be mentally unscathed. Toxic/harmful behavior learned from playing League is bound to manifest somewhere.”

One respondent, who claimed to be a former developer, responded: “Why would I invite that back into my life?”

There’s one twist to the data. Several respondents who were skeptical about dating a League player said they would consider dating a woman who played it. One person said that they thought the stereotype only applied to men, not women. Another said she would consider only dating women who play League.

“It’s perhaps leaning too much into stereotypes, but people who play LoL tend to spend a lot of time on the game and are hypercompetitive,” she writes. “I will, however, date women who are into LoL, just perhaps not men.”

If you think women can't control their emotions, wait til you see a man on a 4 game loss streak in your League of Legends SoloQ game. 😳

— LegitKorea 🇰🇷 (@LegitKorea) February 9, 2022

Overall, respondents were torn on whether the undatable League stereotype was warranted or not — 57% say it isn’t, 43% say it is. That itself is a concerning trend that helps explain why so many people shrink back or joke about dating League players. Despite their open-mindedness, many people I polled casually acknowledge the toxicity of the community and stress that they draw the line at disrespecting them in person.

As one male respondent put it, “I am certain, as someone that has never played League, that many of the players are toxic and undatable. However, it is wrong to label every player as undatable obviously.”

Dispelling the meme

Someone on the fence about dating people who play League might even go for it based on the person in question. Multiple people specified in their survey comments that their boo would need to put some effort into their relationship outside of the game in order for it to work. This seems to match what I’ve seen in real life.

One of my friends claimed she wouldn’t date anyone who played League of Legends. She even joked around, bidding me goodbye, when I started dating someone who played it. However, she changed her mind when she met someone who was a good match. When I asked her about his best qualities, she cited his financial independence, motivation to learn, and initiative to plan dates as top reasons for why she decided to date him.

Two League of Legends characters stare at each other with a heart between them.
Riot Games

League was never a deal breaker for me. As someone who grew up with friends playing the game from high school into college, I understood that many kinds of people played it because of how popular it was. Unfortunately, I also had friends who ended relationships with League players because of their obsession with it or poor social skills that were worsened from playing the game.

For the record, the guy that I dated before my current boyfriend wasn’t bad at all; he even tried to teach me to play the game. He gave me useful advice like “don’t farm that guy’s wave if you’re support” and played against bots with me, even though it was boring. We still follow each other on Instagram. It wasn’t a disaster.

As one open-minded respondent put it, “There might be hope for them.”

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Jess Reyes
Jessica Reyes is a freelance writer who specializes in anime-centric and trending topics. Her work can be found in Looper…
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