Riot Games has publicly talked about fighting toxicity in both its player community and employee ranks for years, but a recent development has tied the two struggles together. As reported by Eurogamer, Riot lead experience designer Aaron Rutledge is apparently no longer with the company after lobbing some personal insults at YouTuber Tyler1, who last year was indefinitely banned from the game after repeatedly having accounts closed for bad behavior.
On the League of Legends community Discord chat, Rutledge dismissed suggestions that Tyler1 had reformed and mocked his appearance.
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"He looks like a damn homunculus," Rutledge said, adding, "Honestly... it's fine he'll die from a coke overdose or testicular cancer from all the steroids... then we'll be gucci."
Rutledge went on to say Tyler1 was what you could expect "if games had terrorists," adding that playing up the toxic elements of his personal brand has amounted to hurting innocent people for money and fame.
Tyler1 responded on Twitter, saying, "It really sucks that some people still hold a massive grudge vs old T1 and refuse to acknowledge I've changed. With that being said I have no hard feelings towards the guy. Shit happens."
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Rutledge himself apologized on Reddit for what he called "a gross error in judgment" and said he would be "taking time away from Reddit, discord and in-game chat to reflect on how I communicate with players." That time away from Reddit also appears to be time away from Riot; Rutledge has updated his LinkedIn profile to indicate that his tenure with Riot Games is ending this month after a four-year stint with the company.
Riot senior writer Ryan Rigney (known in the community as Cactopus) addressed the issue in the League of Legends Reddit, saying, "To be very clear here: what was said is NOT okay, and we take it extremely seriously. I'd like to apologize on behalf of Riot to both Tyler1 and the community for this. We will be taking action internally to address this (although it would not be appropriate to go into specifics here)."
He later added, "I'm putting on my 'senior Riot spokesperson' hat when I say that we don't tolerate attacking players. We don't agree with what was said, we take it seriously, and no one at Riot is above reproach. Neither Tyler1 nor any other player deserves that."