The Psychology of Things — Article I: League of Legends, Through the Eyes of an Amateur.

“The struggle of being an amateur — and learning the ropes of the world’s most popular MOBA game.”

Summoner’s Rift Official Art <by Riot Games>

-I- In The Beginning [Early-Mid Season 5] [2015]

It was midway through the month of May, in the year of 2015, on a normal afternoon within my household. I was walking through the hallway and heard some noises going off from what sounded to me like it was from a game. My older brother, Stephen, was enthusiastically watching an NALCS game going on. NALCS stands for the North American League of Legends Champion Series. It’s North America’s League of Legends professional circuit. I am recollecting my thoughts from quite some time ago, I just do not remember for sure what two teams were competing during that time.

That was the very first time my older sibling had explained to me about what a MOBA was. A five versus five battle arena where teamwork and strategy were the key to victory. Curiosity was barely the scratching the surface, for I had no clue was I about to get myself into…

I proceeded to download the game on my standard computer just to experience what it was like. Within little to no time, my brother invited me to play alongside his friends. Unknowingly, I had no idea they were a lot more well-versed in the game than I was.

I was put onto Support, because for any new player, this was considered the safest role because it was the lowest priority. Since I was extremely new, and had little idea of what to do, or who to select. It resulted in me purchasing Kayle, using Influence Points because she was affordable. Long story short, that game did not go well at all.

Getting my foot through the door for how a MOBA operated was very overwhelming for me. High pressure situations and immediate teamfights left me helpless and made me hesitate lots. Which then resulted in a lot of harsh critiques which I was not prepared for. Knowing my mentality, allow me to admit, it made me want to think otherwise about the game. A couple of weeks after installing the game, the realization actually made me uninstall it. The initial impression of this was not very pleasing to someone like me with a soft persona.

NALCS 2016 Spring Championships @ Toronto, Canada <by Riot Games>

-II- eSports Re-Integration [1 year later, Season 6] [2016]

In any sort of professional league, the rate of influence is immediately perceivable. Everyone wants to see and hear the best ways to do things. After the bitter taste in my mouth had settled and I enjoyed other things in my spare time. I had forgotten that League of Legends actually had a solidified circuit that attracted hundreds of thousands of individuals through Twitch live viewership. Veterans players and new players alike.

According to some of my brother’s friends as well as himself, he had mentioned TSM [Team SoloMid] had a great impact on what he played and who inspired him. It sounds ridiculous for a video game, but knowing there are professionals behind this, it makes complete sense that they would want to follow in their footsteps any way possible. Mechanical prowess, elaborate teamwork, and meta data with current patches was everything a player like TSM’s Bjergsen, Hauntzer, or Doublelift had to keep up with.

The immense roar of the crowd at the sight of playmaking and the shoutcasters calling away at every little detail was amazing. Obviously, it was never possible for someone very new to the genre and game to reach a pinnacle like that. Although, admittedly the inspiration was really encouraging and was my second wind for returning and trying again.

Without any elaborate ‘sugar-coating’ you could say that seeing such high level of play made me have some perceivable goal in mind. It was obvious it was never possible to get in reality, but it gave motivation. A willingness to step back into this hectic, competitively-driven environment.

League of Legends Official ‘Teamwork’ Concept Splash Art <by Riot Games>

-III- Community Interactivity [Season 2016]

The time had finally come, and I willingly decided to reinstall the League of Legends client back onto my computer. Except, I decided to put on a lot of time into just seeing what I liked and what roles suit me.

It makes sense that knowing you started on the Support role that you would be more persistent on it. This was clearly visible from my standpoint, since Support oriented characters were the first ones I had invested game currency into. This role consisted of keeping their duo partner — the Marksman or Attack Damage Carry alive under any circumstances. With the addition of providing vision near certain objectives as well near the lane you resided within.

At that this time, there were still a ton of things I needed to learn about this game. It is incredibly complex and has so many layers to it. I, surely enough, was making lots of rookie mistakes at the time. Lots of misplaced Ultimates, bad skillshot aiming, and positioning in teamfights. It hurts to say this, but a majority of the community would more than likely add “oil to the fire” in turn for helping someone or saying “It’s okay.” or “Good try.” and move on. Unfortunately, League has always had a horrible reputation for its toxic community and in many ways it is true. Just like I had mentioned a few paragraphs back, it was really hard for such a positive personality like me to enter a community that has such sharp edges.

Four or five months into the season, one of my friends, who was a veteran player, mentioned that anyone had the capability of ‘muting’ others on the All-Chat channel within games. I took the consideration and tried it once in a game and it eliminated a couple of the negative setbacks initially seen. Still the other problem would be that players would spam “?” pings in order to jokingly disrespect or question one of their teammates set of actions. In today’s time, you are allowed to mute that as well, because the community brought up that disrespectful notion as something that had the capacity of being extinguished. Playing alone or in ‘solo queue’ in comparison to a circle of friends can be seen as something entirely different within that regard.

In my eyes, there are a lot of different competitive motives and personality clashes when you experience the game with varying degrees of skill and game understanding. Some people desire to win more because they feel synergy is better, others just want to play to enjoy the game with others, and some try all they can to win in spite of deficits or how badly others are doing. Whenever I play, I try to be as respectful or easy-going as possible and not apply pressure to others and try to lift up any ‘idea’ of ‘fun’ if there really is any. I find it really difficult to work harder as a unit, if everybody lashes out at each other for mistakes. I know we are supposed to learn, but not everybody has the same amount of experience or rate of adaptation. I mean, I believe it is safe to say that some people are just casually playing if that were ever be possible. Oh yes, the irony of casual play within a competitive, ferocious atmosphere. In the end, playing with a circle of friends; but really, it just depends who; can be really motivating or discouraging overall.

So the question is — what matters more? The pressure of performing better among friends in order to impress them and not disappoint, or doing all you can to actually enjoy the game? Technically, you can actually tread between the bounds of these questions, you just have to be a lot more lighthearted and not break a nerve in the middle of a game. This can be very hard to do, but I know it is possible, just not the perspective for everybody, by any means. Winning feels great, especially when you can prove something to somebody or a group of others. Losing can be damaging, but that gives you the space to hopefully motivate yourself to try better. Expressing this dilemma is very hard because I feel it is a hard thing for the community to fully comply to.

League of Legends Season 6 Official Splash Art <by Riot Games>

-IV- Unfiltered Perspective [Season 6-Season 7] [2016-Today]

Looking back, I never really realized I started approximately 2 years ago…time sure does fly. Although, has my impression of the players within the game gotten any better, you may ask? Well, since my understanding and skills for the game are a tad bit better. That slight boost in confidence has lead me to have some pretty amazing moments with people I do not even know. Every once in awhile, I would actually run into some respectful players or surprisingly really friendly individuals. Moments like those, actually opened my eyes a bit, knowing not every single person is absolutely ill-mannered in this community.

I have this philosophy, that you should enjoy League without any form of incredibly scary pressure and just have fun to the best of your ability. Whenever there is someone new to the game, I try all I can to encourage and tell them it is definitely okay to do bad in games — because everyone does. The discouragement is the root of all the setbacks to not wanting to play. There has to be at least some way to alleviate all the stress someone gets from feeling like they cost their team ‘the whole game’. I can definitely say I have had that happen to me before, because you feel extremely bad for everybody who more than likely did a lot less horrible than you did.

Outside of playing League, there are actually lot of others factors that make me come back to it. Recently, Riot Games has taken a lot of time, fleshing out all of Runeterra and the lore behind each Champion. Their official ‘Universe’ website is very stunning and learning certain things you never knew about your favorite characters gave some new value to the game besides just readily playing. Also, the concept art for the certain regions is mind-blowing. From the glass-riddled experimental chasms of Zaun, to the opulent, posh, and innovative district of Piltover, there is still a lot to uncover about these places. For someone that is into worldbuilding, that alone, was enough to keep me entertained.

One of the most important things to playing something or doing a hobby is the personal enjoyment behind it. I call this the, “What’s in it for me?” factor, like, what do you really feel you are getting or legitimately amused by when playing this? I feel as though League of Legends, retains lots of its value from proving yourself in games where they feel completely at a loss, but by being sensible and not overextending yourself, it can sometimes turn around. Under one pivotal teamfight scenario or ‘dancing’ around one key objective, like a Baron Gnasher or Elder Dragon. Moments where your back is to the wall, and everything is on the line, really showcase the capability of the player, with the result being something to learn from or totally look back on. That is an actual, valuable reward.

In more recent light, the satisfaction of playing, can also come from personal interpretation. For example, my YouTube channel, last year, started to showcase League of Legends content for the first time. It was of course, inspired off of many other content creators that also express themselves to others this way. Since my editing repertoire kept growing, I felt it would be a good choice. In doing this, by the smallest way possible, I knew as though there was this little speck of placement for me in the community. This was a nice feeling, it may be unnoticeable, but worthwhile.

There was one thing missing though, a question that still, to this day, remains unanswered. Are you allowed to believe an amateur’s viewpoint? “That doesn’t make any sense, you shouldn’t listen a Bronze or Unranked player by any means!” is a sound argument. I can still say without a doubt I am an amateur player within the billions of players that constantly log on. There are a lot of times when I am playing with veteran players but feel obligated to say anything gameplay-related or meta-oriented because it is automatically subject to being invalid due to wide amounts of inexperience. It makes all the sense in the world, but I always wonder if we do really get any say or will we ever get any?

League of Legends Season 7 <Assassin Update> Splash Art <by Riot Games>

-V- Hanging On [Season 7] [Early 2017-Today]

So, you are probably wondering — why express so much passion for this and tell us that you are barely hanging on? Allow to me to clarify. Numerous amounts of players, new blood, and experienced veterans mentioned the idea of a ‘love-hate relationship’ to the game. When people dig deeper in the competitiveness of the game, the results backfire harder, because the strive to improve becomes a lot steeper. The players you queue up against seem a lot more aware of your actions, you get hesitant and nervous often, and climbing seems less possible than before.

According to many of my friends, it is not really about much of the mechanical timing of skills, or build optimizations that keeps you going. It is all about the mindset of the player. The way you interpret being brought down by others, against criticism, all matched up to how you really thought you did make up the entirety of how it really went. Sometimes, you ignore doubt and press onward, or try as hard as you can to understand what others above you are guiding you to. The ability to properly assess whether or not you should queue up again or take a breather to keep yourself mentally in-check can be the best choice.

Keeping up-to-date with the competitive scene of a game always leads to reading the most recent statistical changes to Champions, with nerfs and buffs, and modifications. The Patch Notes. Analysts refer to this as metadata, the data ‘above the game’ that keeps players’ eyes open and aware of what is good and what isn’t. Thorough following of eSports allows for people to get a basic idea of what seems sensible to play in Ranked Solo Queue when the time comes. Without doing any of this you are going to feel ‘under the grid’ when making sure your character is the strongest it can be. In reality, all of these things, are merely choices left to player, knowing if they or do not want to ‘keep up with the times’. It is all their decision alone.

League of Legends ‘Team Builder’ Promotional Art <by Riot Games>

-VI- Conclusion + Writer’s Thoughts

After so much time, I am very glad I was finally able to put my thoughts somewhere, and how I felt my experiences so far about this game. I know, in some ways, it may be similar to others, or might vary, I do not know for sure. Thank you so much for taking your time reading my first article on this website. It was a bit scary, I admit, but I am just glad I am finally writing these last few sentences. League of Legends has definitely taken some very odd turns in my life, because I sort of left, then came back, then decided to actually stay. I wrote this because I always countlessly wondered what people thought when they played. Anyway that’s all for me you guys. Hope to see you again at the next article.

“Stay honest.” — Codex from Codex Journalism (May 26, 2017)