This is a guest post by LordCOTA (my non-resident expert on LoL) in response to some claims I made in How do players talk about eSports? about “game” and “metagame” as it relates to (e)sports. I think the issue starts somewhere around when I said “So here we have sports, where the “metagame” (LoL version) is practically what we think of when we think of the game.”
Without further ado, the rebuttal:
Children begin playing in soccer leagues as early as 4 years old. If you’ve ever been to a game of soccer at this level, you probably understand why it’s been referred to as herdball or magnetball. But the fact remains these kids are playing soccer. Fast forward to 7-10ish and the kids are actually playing their positions which means the forwards are doing everything and the defenders are basically standing still until the ball is in scoring position. That contrasts pretty heavily with how technical and advanced professional soccer is, but it is all soccer.
A very similar learning curve exists in League of Legends. After the tutorial you know that enemy champions are bad and killing them and their turrets gives you gold. Those are the rules, the “game”. But you don’t know much else and people just do whatever. You notice that there are two people in the top lane and two in the bottom and one in the middle, so you split your team up that way. Eventually you learn it’s best to put certain types of champions into certain lanes and to have balanced team compositions with some key roles being filled. Fast forward a few levels and people begin sending one person top and having someone in the jungle, and a lot of entirely new dynamics of play emerge. At some point the game because a very close emulation of the professional scene, but can you at any point deny we are playing League of Legends?
League of Legends, as a new sport on a medium that is very new to sports, requires that dual terminology to differentiate the experience you get being dropped into the game with just the rules, versus the game that is being played competitively.
LordCOTA is an avid player of League of Legends and can be found on twitter @lordcota, in LoL as LordCOTA, or emailed at: cota (at) abzde (dot) com.