Exactly Why I Play League of Legends (or Lonesome No More!)

Whenever I see a fight break out I usually watch it unfold with the passivity of one of those characters you see drawn into the backdrop of Marmaduke cartoons. My arcane talents for looking disinterested even at the event horizon of unfolding shit will one day be studied by shamen, but the most notable thing about this is that lurking behind my zen apathy is a fuck lotta irascible bile.

I hate conflict. Like most pointless wars, they’re a dull battle of attrition, and with Internet conflict it’s cyclical, and it ravenously consumes itself, which results in impossible and cloudy ambiguities – I hate it. With that in mind, this is one of the first lines of an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut that makes up one of my favourite pieces of common sense:

Please – a little less love, a little more common decency.

The book is called Slapstick, on the basis that life shares similarities with the slapstick comedy of classic American comedians Laurel and Hardy – “because it is grotesque, situational poetry,” he says. I like this, because I think it offers a precise definition to what I consider generally indefinable. I like this too:

“The fundamental joke with Laurel and Hardy, it seems to me, was that they did their best with every test. They never failed to bargain in good faith with their destinies…”

Because it offers a recipe for success in what I generally consider a bewildering web of uncertainties.

I’ve spent the last month singing the praises of League of Legends for the same reason. I like LoL a lot. I like it because for all the bellyaching about parroting DotA, and for all the low-tier self-trolling from a thick-as-shit community, it’s still the antidote, the hemlock in the cup to all the ambiguity in the world I spend most of my time avoiding.

LoL is conflict streamlined into a series of quantifiable solutions. LoL caters to the reptilian part of the brain that looks for nothing more than the clarity of maths, mechanical down-to-the-second timing, and the sort of in-depth game theory that could have sorted Nam out in a matter of hours.

Got a problem? Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on to your calculator, John Nash – Spreadsheet it, calculate it, follow the meta that was formulated and modified by players thousands of hours before you ever logged on. LoL is black and white in its darkest and lightest and biggest and baddest, and all the grays have been relegated to the lowest Accrington Stanley division of irrelevance.

The result, granted, is like a broken fire hydrant, but the seemingly endless gallons of chaos pouring out its community are something you can trust will be just as unambiguously chaotic with or without your participation. The first rule of LoL is you are a turd, whether or not you really deserve to be called one – And if you can place your bets on anything it’s for LoL’s attitude about this to be consistent. The game breeds that special kind of Internet Toughguyism usually grown in the sublayers of 4chan and B3ta posts, and now comes to a rolling boil thanks to a combination of boilerplate free-to-play and online competitiveness. There’s a purity to that: if those sites are the Internet’s Id then LoL is the part of the system responsible for a kind of competitive Tourette’s, chronic tics which force it to be eternally direct with you.

Your place in its hierarchy is unambiguous  – You are a turd, but this is an extension of the game’s community, and those words can describe the lot of it, the special sort of nihilistic and meaningless trolling that drives it, and the grotesque, situational poetry that it consistently imitates. In reality the only identity that matters will rise to the top once your character is chosen, whose exact role was perfected after hours of being cultivated with strange maths in a crucible of nerd love-compulsion by people who do their best with every test and never failed to bargain in good faith with their destinies.

That’s why I play League of Legends; Please –  a little less love, a little more LoL.

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About DreadfulBlog
A devilish combination of slightly bored and quite hungry

2 Responses to Exactly Why I Play League of Legends (or Lonesome No More!)

  1. Matt Duhamel says:

    A fascinating analysis of LoL. You arguably followed in Vonnegut’s footsteps and helped put definition to someone I had not been able to define so succinctly.

    The idea of games being a refuge by virtue of their structural simplicity and quantifiable solutions has been at the front of my mind for the last few months, and I’ve come to a far more unhappy conclusion than you. I’ve found that comfort of simple questions with clearly quantified answers has become a compulsion. The more time I spend surrounded by these simple comforts the more difficult it becomes to handle the chaotic uncertainty of the world at large. Whether that is because there are some questions in life that cannot be defined by quantitative analysis, or simply because my ability to make intuitive decisions has been undermined by my reliance on the research of any number of game communities is unclear to me. All I know is that I have reached a point where I cannot make a difficult decision without having enough data to know that my choice will succeed ahead of time. Personally, I think I need a little less LoL.

    I am writing a length essay on the subject, if you’re interested in my thoughts I can send it to you when I am finished.

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