It all started back at PAX East, 2013. Well, technically I started playing a couple of weeks before that, but it was that convention that really ‘hooked’ me on the game known as League of Legends.
I’d been learning a lot about the game, finding new friends who also played, and even starting to watch some professional level play over Twitch. It was all very cool, minus the somewhat vocal ‘toxic’ portion of the community. I shrugged it off for the most part, I didn’t want to let the ill-mannered jerks of the internet ruin this new game for me.
At PAX East, I got the opportunity to meet some of the fine folks who work at Riot and their enthusiasm for this game and its community is really quite infectious. Say what you will about patches, server stability, other game qualms, but after speaking to just a couple of these folks, you will walk away with the knowledge that this is a company that is dedicated to creating a game environment that is enjoyable for players of every skill level. They love their work and I respect them for it.
I had the opportunity to take part in a community match, of regular attendees versus Riot staff. We lost, and we lost pretty hard. It was still a fun and thrilling experience, but it motivated me to hone my skills and try to improve as a player. I’ve spent a decent portion of this past season learning the basic tenets of the game, and I’m happy to report that I am slowly improving. I’ll never be a highly ranked player, and I certainly wasn’t a natural when I started. I’m better than I used to be, though, and that’s a good place to start.
At the end of the third competitive season for League of Legends, I will be sitting in the mid-Silver division, out of a scale that begins with five tiers of Bronze, to Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and the fabled ‘Challenger’ tier. I started at mid-Bronze. I was hoping to reach Gold, but I think this is a decent step in the right direction. It’s fun to learn new champions, new tactics, and see your improvement over the course of time. It’s a rewarding experience, similar to the elation you gain from honing any other skill or craft. Most other crafts don’t usually berate you for a bad game, though, and tell you to ‘uninstall and kill yourself’, though. I’ll take it with a grain of salt.
Outside of the toxic players, which thankfully don’t permeate every game, there’s a strong and devoted community that has built itself around this game and supports it with a fervour I never could have anticipated in a video game. This is bigger than Halo, Call of Duty, even Pokemon or World of Warcraft pale in comparison to the current League of Legends player base. It continues to grow, too. It’s a staggering thought, that there is a growing legitimacy in competitive video games, that they are more than idle wastes of time for some people. I’ll admit that I’ve never been much of a sports fan, but after watching my first League Championship Series match over Twitch – I believe it was a game between Europe’s Fnatic and Dignitas- I finally understood what was so appealing about the nature of the spectator.
I was fortunate enough to attend PAX Prime, and was able to watch the North American LCS finals in a live audience. Again, I was floored by the amount of effort that Riot has put into their vision of a legitimized eSports community. I’d never considered it a possibility, in all of my years playing video games, that there would ever be mainstream recognition or approval for the ‘video game professionals’. After this season wraps, I think it is very much a possibility that Riot Games is working towards.
I wish them the best of luck, and will be eagerly following their growth and their game, maybe even improving my skills in this crazy MOBA world along the way.