Recently, I got my hands on a copy of Warcraft 3 and its expansion. The main reason I got it was because of my best friend; he plays a custom game on WC3 called Defense of the Ancients (DotA), and was perpetually upset at playing with bad teammates. So, I told him I would buy it, and if I liked it, I would let him teach me.
I’ve played for about a week and a half now, and as it turns out, I do really enjoy them game. It’s a bit convoluted, but I enjoy the team aspect and variety of the game. My friend is good enough to play in clans, which I’ve read is no joke, so I’ve got a good teacher. There’s only one problem: DotA players take their game way too seriously.
Here’s a super quick rundown of DotA: It’s a 5v5 game where people choose from 93(!) different playable characters, each with their own special abilities. Each team has a base, and some weaker units controlled by AI that run up and attack bases along with the playable characters. Your characters level up and get money; level ups allow them to make their special abilities stronger, and money allows players to buy items which give them more maximum life, max mana, faster movement speed, faster attack, et cetera. The game ends when the main building in a team’s base is destroyed.
Anyways, back to my soapbox…People who play DotA in public games are serious rage cases. If you don’t play a character how someone else would play it, they’ll likely yell at you. If you try an item build order that they don’t like, they’ll try and correct you in the most crass way possible. If you’re not doing what they want you to do at any point in a game, you’ll hear about it. And, worst of all, if you’re new to the game, people will hate you for it.
Thankfully, because I have a teacher with a lot of experience to guide me, I don’t have to weather these problems by myself. However, it just makes me wonder: how exactly does one get good by playing in such a hateful, xenophobic environment? You can’t learn anything if you can’t experiment, and you can’t experiment when people are always reaming you for not playing a perfect game, or doing exactly what they want you to do – usually with no regard to how poor they might be playing.
Perhaps I’m just spoiled; I’m part of another competitive gaming community: the 2D fighter. Sure, you’ll always find some bad eggs everywhere, and there are certainly dicks playing fighters. However, people in the fighting game community, while rough on the exterior, are generally helpful and excited to get new people playing their games. The overwhelming majority of us do whatever we can to help, and we show respect, no matter how good or bad our opponent is in relation to us.
DotA, however, is such a disrespectful environment. In most games I play, it’s common courtesy to say “gg”, or “good game(s)” after a match, whether you won or lost. Once, when my team lost, I wrote “gg” and people on the opposing team started hurling every insult in the book at me. My teacher even said I shouldn’t do that! What the hell?
Many times, while using a character for the first time, my teammates would feverishly call me a newbie (a player who is new to the game), as if that was a bad thing. Then, they would treat me like dirt by calling me names and giving me no support in-game. It’s as if they desperately want no new players to join their ranks, or maybe they just want you to magically be good from the start. Fat chance! Anyone knows that this will never happen, but there’s no telling them.
Once, while playing with my teacher friend, one of my teammates called me a newbie and freaked out on me, saying that I shouldn’t join a game that says “pros” in the game name (when joining games, the word ‘pros’ of course signifies that you should have already invested a good amount of time into the game). My teacher quickly pointed out two things that made him rage quit immediately:
1. The game we joined did not say ‘pros’ in the title, which he confirmed by asking the game creator, and
2. The real killing blow: Public games, by definition, are not pro. If you wanted to play with the big boys, you’d be playing clan games, not public games.
I think I will still keep playing the game, but I wonder if I would have bothered to stay and learn if it weren’t for my friend? I wonder how many people quickly give up the game forever, due to how rude its player base treats newcomers? I had a third friend that I tried to get in on the action, and he hung up his shoes after TWO DAYS due to stunning etiquette of DotA‘s players.
So, let me end this with an open message to DotA players in public games:
Your family isn’t going to be taken away if you lose. You’re not going to be executed if you lose. Your game is not serious business. You play public games and have no regard for team ethic, but yell at everyone else for having the same folly. You might even play on easy mode (finding a public game that says “easy mode pros” is priceless, by the way).
You are not playing serious DotA, and, as someone who is a part of a competitive gaming community, you guys are not helping. If you want your game to survive, you have to be more accomodating to the new player base. But, I guess if you want the game to die off in about two or three more years, keep doing what you’re doing.