Today I found myself with a surplus of time I wanted to waste, and decided to attempt to get back into League of Legends. I’m still not even level 30 in that game, but I have a lot of friends who play it all the time. If you’ve never played a MOBA, they can be extremely difficult to learn and unfriendly to inexperienced players. That might be an understatement. MOBA communities will flame you for making mistakes, which can be…daunting for a newbie. I generally only ever play League in a group of friends so that I don’t have to deal with that hate, and also because I can get constructive criticism. Today, I played one game and lost, but it got me thinking about the whole system in general.
MOBAs are an interesting enterprise, where the entire business depends on hoping players want to learn a very complicated, detailed, skill-based game. Add in the fact that the majority of the gameplay (bots don’t count) is PvP, and it’s a wonder people like me ever even try them. I think the only real draw for me is the lore of League. Every champion has a homeland and backstory, and some of them even interact with other champions. I am a huge sucker for character details like that. Kha’zix and Rengar being on opposing teams even starts a sort of minigame, where they fight to see who is the better hunter! Riot writes interesting lore, and has a varied roster of 125 (as of this post) champions to play. There’s really a character for everyone in the giant mass of heroic men, women, and monsters.
I think it’s fascinating that all MOBAs grew out of one game: Defense of the Ancients. I used to play DotA back in college, so I got to watch a genre be born and grow. Most video game genres have existed for decades, but this one was new, and might be the only example of a new genre of games in the past 15 years. DotA started as a fan-made game using Warcraft 3 assets and existing on Blizzard’s Battle.net. When I think about that, and then look at all the MOBAs we have now. and how successful they are, I get a real “we are living in the future” feeling.
League of Legends bills itself as the most popular game in the world, with over 40 million players, and thousands of matches being played at all hours of the day. I watch competitive League and cheer for my favorite teams (TSM and UOL), and it is truly the only sport, electronic or otherwise, that I actually care about as a spectator.
Anyways I ragequit that shit after one game. Thanks for reading!