Editor's note: The following story was produced for Youth Takeover week at KQED.
The internet is an amazing place, but it’s also home to some of the worst people in the world.
Gaming communities can be some of the most toxic places on the web. And among them, the League of Legends community can get particularly rough.
League of Legends, a ridiculously popular multiplayer online battle arena video game, has about 67 million active monthly players and 27 million active daily players. Games can last up to an hour, so you end up communicating with a lot of potentially aggressive people.
Megan Phong, 18, a senior at Lincoln High School, has been playing League of Legends since her freshman year and has come across her fair share of toxic behavior.
"Toxic is one of those things where some players are just a bit much. They’ll be really mean to people playing with them or playing against them," Phong says.
The smack talk comes out in the game's chat box. And even people who are really nice in real life can turn toxic in the gaming arena.
Giping Huang, 18, a senior at Lowell High School, has played League of Legends throughout high school.
Asked if he's ever toxic during games, Huang laughs.
"During games they’re just like really stupid mistakes that my team makes," he says. "Or they're just being stupid. I’m sorry, but they're just being stupid. They're just not playing as well as I would like them to play."
Phong, from Lincoln High, also admits to some toxic behavior.
"I’ve been toxic multiple times, even if it’s like just a little toxic," she says. "It’s not as bad as other people that go like seriously crazy in the community while playing. I’ve been a little mean to some people. Only if they're bad though."
And then there are the victims of these toxic attacks.
"I’m not the best League of Legends player you’ve ever seen," admits Christian Chun, 17, a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. "There are times where I don’t do very well at all during games. Sometimes it’s random strangers on the internet and other times it’s actually my friends. I tend to be at the receiving end of a lot of toxic nature, and it’s not too fun."
He adds: "It gets to a point where you just get so used to the toxic behavior on League that you get used to it, and now whenever someone insults me, I either just ignore it or I just turn off all chat."
Despite how toxic League of Legends can be, it’s still a great game to play with friends, and at certain times be toxic yourself. It’s all in good fun, after all.