Of all the video game genres, the MOBA – and subsequently DOTA – continues to prove to be one of the most interesting.
Originating in the hallowed halls of Warcraft III’s custom game servers, the rise of Defense of the Ancients is now forever etched into the annals of MOBA history – but is it a story that has gone sour?
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games have enjoyed some of the best time in the eSports limelight for years now.
DOTA 2 and League of Legends pull in the largest and hungriest crowds around, and with good reason: tuning in to a game even these many years on can prove to be one of the greatest spectator sports around.
Depth, engagement, and a penchant for layers of complex strategic plays all factor into the Defense of the Ancients formula. Coupled with flavorful characters and the iconic tri-lane map, there’s seems to be more than enough to lure in new players.
But is DOTA 2 managing to attract newbies, or floundering?
If you just look at the raw numbers, DOTA 2 is going strong. With over 10 Million players globally and one of the largest eSports followings in existence, the game should have no problem accepting new players. But it has a small problem with the “accepting” part.
Perhaps only comparable to League of Legends, DOTA 2’s playerbase is notorious for its toxicity.
Although Valve has implemented a “mute” function to the games voice and text chat, many players would hardly consider it a fix – given just how much a game of DOTA 2 relies on exchanging valuable information with your teammates.
Toxicity in online games is nothing new, but the degree of ubiquity to which it is found in DOTA 2 is startling. Despite the changes and campaigns that Valve run, there just doesn’t seem to be any end to it.
Ultimately, this sort of behavior will be the rot that eats games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends out from within. No matter how polished the gameplay, how unique and flavorful the heroes, most players won’t seek to return to the game if every experience they have in it is drenched in negativity.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to the problem of negativity – it’s one of the core issues that plague gaming culture.
Take the existing problems and marry them with the hyper-competitive nature of a MOBA and you’ll have yourself muting your teammates and fellow players more often than not. Then again, maybe you find their ire amusing and only seek to provoke more of it.
This in itself is a common emergent behavior that only serves to stoke the flames of animosity.
At the end of the day, DOTA 2 is an intrinsically highly team-based competitive game that excels at pushing its competitive and pro circuit environment as its primary method of content delivery.
Until that changes, or Valve uncovers some magic new way to transmute human negativity into cooperation and positivity, the only way to enjoy the fruits that DOTA 2 has to offer is with some thick skin.