Oh, how my opinions have changed!
On my Skill Level
Well, it’s safe to say that I am much better than I thought I would be. However, I still have many, many weaknesses – still far more weaknesses than strengths.
My strength, of course, is support. Especially with Soraka. Which I did not expect, but in hindsight makes total sense.
My biggest weakness is that I’m not aggressive enough. Part of that comes from wanting to play nice (see below), but part of it comes from not wanting to take risks that could lead to me ‘feeding’ the enemy and hurting the whole team.
In some ways, this is good. This is part of what makes me a really good support player. But for every other role, this is mostly bad. I generally know when NOT to do something (ex. don’t solo epic monsters unless you’re the jungler and a high enough level, don’t go wandering through un-warded jungles unless you have to, don’t turret dive if you have low health, don’t leave your lane at critical moments or when it’s pushed towards you unless you have to) but not when TO do something, if that makes sense. Some risks are good to take, and I don’t know how to identify those moments and how to maximize their potential.
The exception to this is warding, which I got really good at from playing support so much. (One player on the enemy team even complimented me on it once!) I know when we need wards and when we are relatively safe and I can save them. I still don’t know what enemy raptors are, but I know where we need wards in relation to where we are at that moment. When I started playing, the idea of wards confused me so much and I had no idea how you were supposed to keep track of where you had wards/where you needed them, never mind run around the whole map placing them. (That said though, I still don’t know the difference between the different kinds of wards.)
My second biggest weakness is my lack of range as a player. I’m real good at support and I’m decent at mid-lane with like two champions. When it comes to PvP games, I haven’t played top in months, probably, and have only played ADC once (and I did well, but still). I don’t know how to jungle at all because I never got over my fear of screwing things up for the rest of my team – knowing my tendency to not take risks, I feel like I wouldn’t know when to go help other lanes and what to do when I got there.
Also, I’m the actual worst at melee champions.
But all of these weaknesses just mean that there is still so much for my boyfriend to teach me, lest he feel left out.
On the Support Role
Support is now my favourite position – partially because I’m best at it, and partially because my favourite champion happens to be a support champion, but also because I’ve started to appreciate the things that my boyfriend noted about the position way back when.
I like the feeling of doing a lot with a little. I love how it feels when I’m Soraka and I land a kill – I’m like, “That’s right, I killed you. You got killed by a unicorn. SUCK ON THAT!”
And much like in real life, I like helping people, especially people who likely care much more about the game than I do. I could make somebody’s day by helping them land a tough kill by healing them. I’ve also realized how much power a support can have when played well – as Soraka, I can severely prolong a team fight and prevent someone from getting one-shot if I just keep healing people over and over and over again.
Yes, some people are dicks to support players and treat them as scapegoats, but most people aren’t, and people are dicks to every position in different ways. I find that junglers actually get treated in a similar way – ex. “This is all your fault because you didn’t show up to help!” (The way I see it, your jungler showing up is a bonus, not something to rely on. I mean, unless they said they were coming and then just didn’t, in which case dick move, bro.)
Playing support also means that I get to play nice. One of the reasons I am not great at other roles is because I am too sportsmanlike for this game. I don’t sneak up on people, I don’t teleport to their base and kill them at the start of the game (this happened to me once), I don’t aggressively go after someone until we’ve both had a chance to farm a little, I very rarely turret dive, and if someone is trying to escape/recall with very low health I usually just let them if pursuing them would be too much effort. I believe that all of those things are unsportsmanlike, but that’s what literally everyone does in LOL – unless you’re a support!! Then, your teammates can just do that shit and you can sit back and watch. (I mean, you can only be responsible for your own actions.)
In case the American election didn’t let you know, sexism is alive and well in 2017! I’ve definitely gotten my share of sexist comments and had people assume I’m a dude for some reason (even though my username has my name in it…) pretty frequently. And LOL has its fair share of sexy ladies wearing totally impractical outfits.
But do you know what it also has? A lady with no legs (Lissandra). A purple unicorn (Soraka). An angel whose gender is ambiguous until you look into it (Kayle). Little girls who are not sexualized in any way (Annie). A girl wearing a bikini even though she’s got A cups (Jinx). A woman who will be shooting for her own hand (Merida I mean Fiora). A robot, who is also not sexualized (Orianna). A warrior riding a pig (Sejuani). A chick with giant fists (Vi). Girl Batman (Vayne). An ADC/support couple where the ADC is the female (Xayah & Rakan).
I could go on, probably, but…no. There was no shortage of female characters for me to fall in love with. And even the ones who kind of are just designed to be sexy for no reason make up for it in strength. There is no champion that is just eye candy (and if there was, no one would play them). Even Sona and Janna may be supports, but they’re two of the best supports there are.
Of course, some players will sexualize anybody, including Lissandra who HAS NO LEGS and Anivia, WHO IS A BIRD. But I don’t think creators can really be responsible for what their fans do.
I’ve also seen comments from Riot themselves saying that there is more than one way for a female character to be sexy (ex. Jinx vs. an Ahri) and that they want to create characters that reflect a wide variety of body types, races, personality types, and so on. They also said that motivation behind creating a “sexy” character for them nowadays has less to do with actual sex appeal and more about their backstory (for example, Miss Fortune’s backstory is that she uses her sex appeal to kill men & avenge her mother’s death), and also about the player experience.
They noted that a common “player fantasy” is the desire to feel attractive (for both men and women), and as soon as I read that I was like, “sooooo true.” And in addition, there are some actual attractive people playing the game who want to feel represented. I consider myself to be a strong, sexy lady (albeit one with a flat chest and too many feelings – hey, Jinx) and I was thrilled when I discovered that these exist in LOL, too. I felt like I could belong.
I also encountered way more female players than I thought I would.
That said, the community is still male-dominated, especially in terms of pro-level players and streamers. Granted, I don’t watch that many videos, but I’ve only come across 1 made by a woman, and many of the male streamers’ videos that I’ve seen use language that is offensive to women/people in general and generally act in a manner that would turn many women off (ex. aggressive behaviour, yelling, excessive cursing).
On the Community/Culture
I still dislike the majority of the community for reasons I’ve already stated and some I haven’t. Part of it is just a general eye-rolly feeling I get because I feel like people place way too much importance and emotional energy into this, which results in getting angry at others or yourself for genuine mistakes/things out of your control. It results in a culture that prizes talent, cunning, and ultimately winning above all else – above kindness.
I have news for you – SOMEBODY has to lose, guys. The other team is comprised of people just like you, trying just as hard, who want to win just as much. And they deserve to win some too. If you lose a game, it doesn’t always have to mean that your team played terribly or something went wrong or whatever. Maybe it just wasn’t your turn, or maybe the other team was genuinely more skilled – either way, it’s okay. If you don’t have fun unless you win, then you need to take a step back.
And maybe a player on your team really did mess up – so what? Is it worth making another person feel bad? Again, your teammates and opponents are real people with real feelings. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again – if you really want to say something, then say something kind and helpful. Give them a way to do better next time. Boost their confidence instead of lowering it (cause that’s not helping anyone).
I have encountered some really nice (and hilarious) people. I’ve sucked super hard and had people tell me it’s okay or give me helpful tips in a non-condescending way. I was invited to a group by someone I played a game with one time. I’ve encountered communities online where people help new players, and even a few girls just like me. And honestly, when I started I didn’t think I would find any people like that. I thought the best I would do is people just ignoring me (which for the record, I also appreciate. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Thumper’s Rule.).
So it’s not all bad…it’s just that it seems like people like that are the minority.
Since I started playing, LOL has gotten much more new-player-friendly with the introduction of the new client, which includes a practice tool. And they are revamping the mastery/rune and honor systems to be much more streamlined and hopefully better explained. However, that’s still not enough.
Most of what I know, I had to learn the hard way or from googling it, not because the game actually taught me. The game should actually teach you those things!
Just like most console games do, the game should slowly introduce new features until you’ve got everything, and THEN release you into the world. A very lengthy, multi-stage tutorial would do wonders. I mean, it would be annoying, but I am willing to bet that a lot of people give up after doing the sad tutorials and then going into a real game all like WTF?!?! Especially if their teammates are mean to them. (In fact, about half of the people who added me as friends/who I added stopped playing at some point – I know this because I just went through them and deleted anyone who was still under level 25.)
Another issue for new players is the way that other players treat them but I guess that is more of a community issue, as noted above. But LOL should do everything it can to prepare its players and prevent people from yelling at them because they just didn’t know something. This includes explaining common terms and acronyms used by players that are just made up or may have a different meaning than it does in the real world (op, leash, bot). Again, in an ideal world players wouldn’t use acronyms or words like that without defining them first, but the speed of the game makes that hard sometimes and also people are mean. And when you get to a certain level, you expect that everyone knows certain things. Most of the time this is not an issue, but every now and then, you’ll get matched with a new player (this is mostly an issue in bot games). Or a player who isn’t new but still doesn’t know what you’re talking about! Honestly, this still happens to me pretty often.
When I started, I felt like either I would give up partway through, or that it would at least stop being fun for me/I’d have to make myself do it, like an obligation.
But I am still having tons of fun, and I’m actually Pretty Okay. I feel just like I did the summer I dedicated myself to rock climbing, or the summer I dedicated myself to the ukulele – I’ve accomplished things that I did not think were possible for me and discovered a new interest along the way.
And honestly, the more interests the better. I’m still just as interested in the ukulele and reading and writing and YouTube and TV as I was, I’m just ALSO interested in this now. It has kind of taken over my life because I have needed every minute I could get in order to get this far by the deadline, but now I can return to a more balanced approach to my hobbies, hopefully.
I never thought that video games were evil or anything like that, but I never really ‘got’ the point of them or why people like them – but now I do. Just like I feel like I accomplished something and am learning a skill when I play my ukulele, people feel accomplished and skilled when they do well in a video game. And considering that A) e-sports are a viable career path now, B) most people don’t plan on making money off their hobbies anyway, C) most hobbies are also only relevant to niche communities, and D) many pastimes are also virtual, such as TV and movies, are video games really less legitimate or ‘real’?
People will say that video game skills aren’t useful in the real world, but you know what else isn’t useful in the real world? Me playing the ukulele. And nobody makes fun of that (at least, I think). Maybe something doesn’t have to be useful to be a worthwhile and fulfilling hobby. And if you do want to make it into a career? More power to you.
They’re certainly not for everyone, but I would say that looking down on them or people who play them would be a mistake. (True, gamer bros are very real and out there, but look down on them for their attitude and behaviour, not for the hobby itself.)