Gaming leaderboards and toxic behavior

Adding a leaderboard to your game is generally a great idea. However, it can also have negative consequences which need to be managed

07 December, 2022 Esports


Leaderboards have become a common feature in many video games, providing players with a way to track their progress and compare their skills to others in the community.

These ranking systems can be a powerful motivator, encouraging players to push themselves and improve their skills in order to climb the ranks. However, they can also create unhealthy competition and lead to toxic behavior within the gaming community. Let's take a closer look.

A laptop showing a a fortnite leaderboard

Online games with leaderboards

Some examples of hugely successful games that use leaderboards are:

  • Fortnite
  • Call of Duty,
  • Apex Legends
  • Minecraft
  • World of Warcraft
  • League of Legends
  • and many others ...

It's fair to say that leaderboards have become an indispensible component of community-driven online games.

One of their biggest advantages in gaming is the sense of accomplishment and recognition they provide. For many players, seeing their name at the top of a leaderboard is a huge thrill, and can be a major incentive to keep playing and striving for improvement. Leaderboards can also foster a sense of community and competition within the game, as players band together to compete against others and try to climb the ranks. This effect compounds when teams are competing against each other.

The downside of too much gamification

On the other hand, leaderboards can also have negative consequences.

Some players may become obsessed with their ranking and spend countless hours trying to climb the ranks, leading to unhealthy levels of gaming and sacrificing other aspects of their social lives in the process. Additionally, leaderboards can create a sense of elitism and exclusion within the gaming community, as players who are not ranked highly may feel like they do not belong or are not good enough. This can lead to toxic behavior and harassment, as players may try to bully others in order to maintain their high ranking. It always tempting to conflate the gaming rank with social rank.

Another potential downside of leaderboards is that they can create an unfair playing field. In some cases, players with more time or resources may be able to gain an advantage and climb the ranks more quickly, leading to frustration and resentment among other players. Additionally, some games may have glitches or exploits that allow players to unfairly manipulate their ranking, leading to mistrust within the community.

A laptop showing a a fortnite leaderboard

Possible solutions

In order to avoid these negative consequences, game developers and players should take steps to create a healthy and fair leaderboard system. This may include implementing measures to prevent cheating or exploitation, providing clear rules and guidelines for ranking, and promoting sportsmanship and positive behavior within the community. Additionally, players should be mindful of their own behavior and take breaks from gaming if it begins to interfere with their personal lives or relationships.

Overall, leaderboards can be a valuable tool for enhancing the player experience in gaming. However, they can also create negative consequences if they are not implemented and used properly. By striking a balance and promoting healthy competition, game developers and players can enjoy the benefits of leaderboards without falling into the trap of toxic behavior.

Create your own leaderboard

Are you looking to create a leaderboard for a game (be it online or offline)? Please give Keepthescore a try. It is designed to be super.simple to operate and has an API. If you have a question, feedback, or a feature request we will gladly try and help.