May 20, 2011 by Tim

I’ve been pretty hooked on League of Legends for the past couple of weeks.

I was never a DotA player. I played a lot of Warcraft 3 when it came out,  but wandered away from it before DotA and many of the community mods started getting popular. So for years I would hear about it, with only a cursory understanding of what it was. We even hosted a DotA tournament at Digital Overload a couple of times, and I’d watch some games over people’s shoulders, and felt like I was watching a foreign film without subtitles.

Fast forward a couple of years and Heroes of Newerth is pushing their beta test pretty hard. I ended up with a ton of keys, most of which I gave away on Twitter, but I also tried the game myself. I don’t recall if the beta offered no tutorial, or if I just skipped it and jumped straight into a game. Either way, that’s what happened and it was a disaster.

I got in there, and started trying to decipher everyone’s slang and abbreviations, learn the UI, figure out what my abilities did, etc. Needless to say, I wasn’t pro. Within ten minutes my teammates were hurling every racial  and sexual slur imagineable my way because I wasn’t holding my own in my lane. As you can imagine, I was incredibly motivated to spend my time learning how to play so that I might get to hang out with people like that on a regular basis.

So I walked away from HoN before really spending enough time to really learn how to play a DotA game.

Fast forward again to a couple of weeks ago. I’d been eyeing League of Legends since they signed on as a sponsor for Digital Overload. Now, the extremely negative reputation of LoL’s community preceded it even moreso than other games before it. But I’d also read about their upcoming Tribunal system, which sounded like it might help to create a more friendly and enjoyable playing environment.

So I gave it a shot. Thanks to an in-game tutorial, some fantastic websites like Leaguecraft and Mobafire, and a handful of games versus bots at the beginning, I was actually able to make mistakes and learn how to play, both in general and different types of champions. And I really enjoyed it.

And even when I started playing against real opponents, I was pleasantly surprised by how good humored and polite the people I was playing against were. At the early levels.

As I level up, I’m starting to see a slow, gradual shift in the temperment and behavior of some the people I play against. And having watched some recorded ranked matches, and having been doing a lot of reading on strategy and builds, I can see that it only gets worse as you reach the L30 crowd. And L30 ranked players? Forget about it.

Regardless though, I’m still having a blast with League of Legends. It helps immensely that a handful of my RL friends now play, and that I’ve got a friends list full of readers I’m slowly trying to group up with. Playing with fun people on your team greatly reduces the impact of any negativity coming from the other side of the playing field.

I’m really interested in seeing what the Tribunal system can do, whether or not it can make a positive impact on the game. Hopefully it’s not too late. Riot has a great game here, and it’s clearly something they’re passionate about… it’s unfortunate that the behavior of the community turns so many potential players away.

If you can shrug it off, or play with friends, though, Leage of Legends is a pretty solid game, once you get the hang of it.

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