How genres shape the impact of a game: Competition

Genres and what a game means to a player

The use of genres to identify and categorize the content of different forms of art is nothing new, however the change in genre in games can have a massive impact on the gameplay experience.  The differences and defining points of genres within gaming have grown and expanded in recent decades to include all manner of mechanical systems, progression models, and player rewards. Today I will be analyzing League of Legends, which I feel showcases competition and teamwork within the genre of multiplayer games.

Competition

In competitive online multiplayer titles like League of Legends, the players compete for status within the community.  The fierceness of this competitive environment can forge friendships between randomly selected teammates, and create bitter rivalries among real-world friends.  For better or worse, League of Legends has found a way to captivate both gamers and audiences alike with its fantastically entertaining and  elegantly easy to follow competitive gameplay.

You can read more about the different roles within League of Legends in my articles: Teemo Support: is support a class or a playstyle?, Solo Lane Tactics: brawling and dueling, rotating and crashing, and The Jungle: roaming through the wild Likewise you can read about team games in my article Team Games: roles and respect. If you are new to League of Legends I also have a terms article that can help you with some of the terminology here, Game Terms: League of Legends.

  • Mechanical systems:
    • 4 Active abilities & 1 Passive ability: (The base total of 5 is typical for most champions with some exceptions) Each character has 4 mechanics they can engage and use during the course of the game; including offensive, defensive, utility, and supportive abilities, these mechanics are used to contribute to the team’s offensive against the enemy team.braum-viewbraum-abilities-list
      (Example mechanical kit images and descriptions for the champion Braum)
    • Team composition: Players choose champions at the beginning of a match with their teammates.  The combined views and choices of the team both as individual members and as a unit determine how effective their team is against the opponents they face.  Thus the earliest tactical mechanics occur as champion selection in the beginning of a match.
  • Progression model:
    • Player level: As the player progresses with a new account they attain levels, from 0-30.  These indicate a player’s progress and also unlock the ability to further refine their playstyle with runes (which allow the player to grant their champion an advantage based on a number of characteristics).
    • League rank: Once the player reaches a point where they feel ready to play competitively they may play within ranked matches and gain ranking among their peers.  This provides the player with room to grow and progress through competition.
  • Player rewards:
    • In-game currency: As the player plays matches they accrue in-game currency which can be used to buy all non-vanity items within the game, including champions, runes, etc.
    • Status in community: As the player progresses through their rank, they earn bragging rights for their standing within their league.

ranks-leageu

(The progression of ranks in League of Legends)

This is the first installment in my series titled How genres shape the impact of a game, if you enjoyed it please feel free to read through the other articles within the series: Roleplaying NarrativesMeditative Spaces, and Forums for Creativity. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to playprofessor@gmail.com.

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.

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