In a game, there’s nothing really important. Winning, under most circumstances, is just a construct. It’s a known-fake idol, just a place holder for the things we really think are worth fighting for in the world. We agree with the other team to oppose each other for the sake of the illusion, then equip ourselves with rules and tools that both limit and empower us. And although there’s nothing real to fight for, we still… we still seek meaning in the games we play. We still seek to be in control. We still seek to matter, and to have a place, a role in which to make a contribution. We still seek progress in everything we do.
Hunger for the struggle is within us, for the wresting of control from foreign hands. We seek to be challenged, to put ourselves in harm’s way, only to find a way to win at the last moment.
So no, I don’t think League of Legends is a nightmare. On the contrary, I think it’s the kind of thing humanity collectively daydreams about. All the heroes we root for and wish we were, in their worlds that ask something of them but also promise glory, happiness, and the return of better times… At the starts of their stories, we care for what they care for, so we go along for the ride. But along the way to their destinations, they encounter trials and hardships, and they’re squeezed nearly dry.
But something odd happens through it all. Whatever it was that was important at the start of their stories… They’re so much more important near the end. We care so much more now and it’s all because our heroes have walked through the fire and the rain but haven’t stopped going. Their struggle made them, made things matter to them, and, more importantly, made them matter to us… because we want things to matter to us too. We want to be them.
In League of Legends, we are. We choose our heroes then fight as them, seeking to struggle, seeking meaning. Winning 5 minutes into the game, is not the same as winning an hour into it. Winning at 20 minutes after annihilating the opposing team isn’t as exciting as winning when your team is 10 kills and 2 towers behind. Winning doesn’t matter as much to us without the struggle. At least not to me.
The Even Playing Field
In League of Legends, I feel like I’m in control. I feel like it’s on me, how well I perform. I feel as though I earn what I achieve, and no one takes from me what they don’t deserve. I feel as though I’m free to struggle; It’s fair and there’s always a way forward. I feel as though I’m the one fighting, not who was decided from the start would win.
LoL feels like an even playing field to me. But not only in the sense described above. It also feels like an even playing field for all ideas. The game is just so darned complex that I can’t help but feel like I’m discovering something new every other game, some new set up or whatnot. But it’s not enough, for me, just to think of something unique and one-of-a-kind. No, what I take pleasure in is to take outlandish ideas and make them work.
I read a phrase somewhere, that art is more beautiful when made through limitations. When there’s less to work with. When there’s more of a struggle.
I’m not fighting in shackles. I’m in complete control. Nothing holds me back but my imagination. I’m free to struggle and create meaning the way I want to struggle.The way I want to fight.
And I guess that’s the defining factor to it all. Playing other games, I always feel like I’m playing someone else’s game. I play by someone else’s rules for a win a can’t care for. Because it’s not just to struggle that I seek. I desire to struggle and be myself. To struggle as myself. Perhaps it’s to show the world that I’m capable, that my way works just as well.
But I don’t think so. I’m just so interested in the different and unique ideas that come to me. I want to try them all, to experience them all. But I want these ideas to succeed, because I also love the struggle. And I want to experience the joy of meaning while at the same time enjoying creativity, the odd, unique, and one-of-a-kind.