There are few things as painful as playing an hours-long game of Dota only to lose at the very end.
For those who don’t know what Dota is, it is a video game that is free to play on the PC. The only things that require money in this game are vanity costumes which serve no purpose other than to look cool.
The game centers on two teams of five players trying to destroy the bases of the enemy team. Each player controls a character, known as a “hero,” and pushes lanes with waves of computer controlled units, known as “creeps.”
Here’s IGN’s review which may better explain the concept.
Over the last couple of years, Dota 2 (and games that belong to the MOBA genre generally) have skyrocketed in popularity and are played by millions of players in almost every time zone at all times. More recently, Dota 2 hosted the highest paying video game tournament of all time with a first place prize pool of ten million dollars (USD), largely funded by fans. It was an impressive feat.
In regards to my personal experience with the game…
If I include the very first iteration of Dota, which came out around a decade ago, I have played some form of Dota for over the last ten years. Countries rise and fall, as do buildings, corporations, and relationships, but this game has remained constant. Actually, this game has grown ever stronger.
In my opinion, the appeal of Dota 2 can be expressed in two main points.
First, this game is hella’ deep. There are so many damn aspects to this game that it is overwhelming for most new players, and likely what turns them away. After ten years of playing this game, there are still things for me to master and things at which I suck at. Even now, professional gamers (people who make their living winning video game tournaments) are still constantly learning and adapting, especially considering that new rules and characters are periodically implemented.
Secondly, this game is free. The only cost of entry is owning a computer that can run the game, which most computers are capable of. In contrast to Dota, League of Legends (the most popular MOBA game currently) requires money or an inordinate amount of time playing the game to unlock characters to play, among other things. Dota drops all of the game on you from the beginning, resisting the urge to construct artificial roadblocks to try and squeeze money out of the player.
Furthermore, there is a third reason. I don’t consider this reason as one of the main two reasons because it is irrational. It is irrational… how incredibly fun this game can be.
The reason this is irrational is because there are few games as painful as this game. I’ve screamed racial epitaphs because of this game. I’ve lost FRIENDS because of this game. This game has taught me a kind of anger I have not felt in any other situation. The closest feeling of anger akin to what I’ve felt in Dota would probably be the feeling of anger I’ve felt driving through bad traffic.
But I keep playing. I keep playing this game because when it is fun, it is so. Damn. FUN.
It is SO damn fun during those moments, those few fleeting moments, when you’re dominating the other team, and they are angry and yelling at you worse than an angry Samuel L. Jackson, but it doesn’t matter, because you are so powerful they have no chance whatsoever. And you crush them.
Or when you’re getting slaughtered by the other team for the last hour, and somehow, by some miracle, you and your team turn the game around and make the comeback to end all comebacks!
Or when you are playing with some people and… you just mesh. You all just understand each other and this game. You think it, they do it. They need it, you provide it. And you understand the magnificent miracle that is… teamwork. You realize that there are some things in life you can’t do yourself and you learn how great it is to have someone reliable in your life when you need them… to win at Dota.
Dota… a true microcosm of life. Fierce competition. Cooperation. Joy. Malice. Hatred. All of these things are present. However, there is one more thing I want to communicate.
For the most part, I do not recommend anyone play this game. I do not recommend anyone play games of this genre. And more specifically, I do not recommend anyone play this game with ME.
Because no matter how fun this game is, no matter how great those great moments are, they are buried under an even greater number of bad moments that torture the mind and soul.
It is said that human beings define the world based on what something isn’t. For example, something is hot based on how not cold it is, and vice versa.
I only know the joys of Dota because of how awful this game can be. I know the true joys of cooperation and team work because Dota has taught me the true pain of relying on someone who fails you. Someone who then curses at you. Someone who is an incompetent idiot.
Dota is joy. Dota is pain.
And while I would not recommend this game to 99.99999% of people, there is a small minority to whom I would recommend this game.
I would recommend this game to those who are willing to try their best. And by “best,” I mean their absolute, play-dota-or-kill-yourself best.
I’m referring to people who have the time and energy to invest all they are into this game and its mechanics. People who can spend hours watching professionals play in hopes of gleaning some strategy or method to improve their own tactics. People of tenacity and grit. People who will not give up no matter how much the other players start to resemble trash.
In conclusion, Dota 2 is a game whose fun is only meant for the chosen few. The few who can push past the racial slurs, name calling, and verbal hurt inflicted by the toxic Dota 2 community. The few who can learn and memorize the characters and the many tactics associated with the game. The few who can and do sacrifice time spent in the real world for time in this cruel, violent, and harsh game.
Dota 2 is difficult. If you are strong, if you are smart, then I recommend you play this game. If you are weak, if you are stupid, then walk away.
Walk away and live your life, because there is no place for you in Dota 2.