Recently, I was able to acquire access to both Dawngate and Heroes of the Storm, new MOBAs that are designed to be more “casual-friendly” than their more competitive counterparts. Not sure if that really is the case, but it seems that I’m getting more reasons to really get into the genre now, as indirectly declared by the past tense used in the title. But first, I need to do something cathartic in order to prepare myself.
As I write this, I’m watching The International 4, and it’s making me want to delve deeper into MOBAs. I’m alright with 1v1 games like StarCraft II and fighting games; they’ve done a lot for me as martial arts did. But team-based games have always been my Waterloo, stemming back to my Ragnarok Online days (2003-2006), where I played semi-competitively yet mained a character build best for 1v1 fights.
I’ve procrastinated in playing MOBAs for years, so I’m well behind the curve when it comes to the genre, even though I do watch LoL and DOTA 2 competition from time to time (especially The International). Before I start diving in headlong, I must first assess the reasons why I’ve stayed away from the genre for so long. I did play DotA back in 2006 when it was just starting to get popular, and I played it at a reasonable level as a tank/support.
Take note that this list is composed entirely of my own feelings about MOBAs, from both first-hand experience and preconceived notions. It’s not meant to be a list detailing why MOBAs are bad, so please don’t take it the wrong way. Whether this list has either legitimate reasons or lame excuses, the point is that they did prevent me from feeling comfortable with the genre. This is a bit like a farewell letter to my previous MOBA-phobic self.
5. Games are too long for me
I guess I’m not that used to games that go on for 40 minutes to an hour on average. StarCraft II games typically last half as long, and sets in fighting games finish in a flash. My lack of patience and problems with concentration are such that if it has to go on for almost an hour, I’d be bored and start thinking about other things in the middle of a game, so I have to go into this gradually if I’m ever going to get used to it.
On the other hand, that does mean that I can just go with one or two games to fulfill my daily MOBA quota, so that seems like a good place to start. Heroes of the Storm does show promise for me though as games are much faster due to its design, which pushes the action much sooner.
4. You can lose before you even start playing
Honestly, I’m uncertain about this statement, but I know that it’s not really that big of a deal. Just about every competitive game has its own balance issues, from tier lists in fighting games to which race in StarCraft II is the most OP at the moment, and they’re not exactly the sole determinants of who wins in the end. This isn’t just about balance though, but also with other players themselves.
This is mostly my observation of MOBAs throughout the years, and I admit that it may be an unfair assessment. But the fact that teammates and hero picks are major factors in how games can go, even if it’s not totally what dictates the result, is enough to irk me. It’s already bad enough that my social aptitude hinders me from enjoying, but being thrown into a lottery before each game isn’t helping either.
Even with my favorite multiplayer game StarCraft II, it has gotten the same way due to the balance issues with Heart of the Swarm, which is why I’ve played it a bit less than Wings of Liberty. I don’t know enough about MOBAs to know if this really is true, but it has been enough to keep me away from the genre.
3. Victory is dependent on all members of the team
This extends from the previous item and is definitely one of the more legitimate reasons for avoiding MOBAs, even for those who have previously enjoyed them. This is both a strength and a weakness of the genre, and it’s what separates the pros from the noobs. In my case, I’m a noob and I couldn’t handle the pressure.
It’s a bit weird since I’m alright with playing team-based first-person shooters like Counter-Strike Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 (although CSGO does make me feel a bit nervous). But maybe that’s just because it’s a genre that I’ve been playing since childhood, so familiarity seems to be a factor for me.
I’m aware of my tendencies when playing in a team; I tend to do better as a subordinate than a leader, so it’s better for me if I’m in a team with someone who is good at calling the shots. When there’s no one there to tell me what to do, I would go lone wolf and just do what I want to do, foregoing any sort of team play. Then again, that’s more of a character flaw that I have to seriously deal with.
2. It fosters mutual disrespect
The people who play MOBAs give me a really bad impression of the genre. What they talk about most of the time is how stupid their teammates were or how they’re doing everything right while everyone else is fucking things up. They would do so in a way that makes them seem more intelligent than the said idiots, which is sad since they’re in the wrong for getting worked up over the game in the first place.
I’ve seen someone rage in the gaming cafe I used to hang out in, smashing the keyboard as he typed disparaging remarks at another player online, which was both humorous and shameful. He wasn’t a high school student, but one of the older regulars in the shop. The incident was later reported, but they never learned who it exactly was; I didn’t personally know the guy.
But I wish not to paint myself as innocent of this as the next item serves as the exclamation point.
1. I rage in team games
Basketball, Counter-Strike, and DotA during the early days all saw me at my worst. This may sound shallow for some and I’m sure that other people have their own issues since this is a common problem. However, I’ve went as far as starting fist fights and destroying property, which has gotten me in trouble on multiple occasions. I’ve had lifelong anger management issues, and I’ve been actively battling against them for many years now.
When it comes to gaming, most team-based games tend to distract me as I feel pressured to perform my role perfectly, so I’d be worrying too much to be able to focus on the task at hand. I’ve been playing more Counter-Strike Global Offensive recently, and even the most casual of games tend to see me unable to get over my nerves. But since I’m trying to confront these demons more, maybe I can finally get over them now.
Perhaps this time around, being older and more mature, I’ll be able to deal better with it. Upon having more games under my belt, it could even make me good at dealing with such stress. I’ve gotten over most of my internal issues through both martial arts and StarCraft II, so all I have to do is to get over my phobia of being in a team. Once I’ve gotten over this obstacle, I should be able to make more progress.