“Don’t confuse mercy for weakness”…

 

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“League of Legends” Tournament, Supanova Gold Coast, April 2014- original photograph by author.

“Don’t confuse mercy for weakness,” these are the words that I heard over and over as I played my first ever “League of Legends” Game today. I am not much of a gamer, however, with the help and guidance of my twelve-year-old stepson, I somehow had a victory. I can’t say this initial experience was fun, it was too fast and too confusing but it has given me a healthy respect for the ease in which the two male gamers in our household play this complex team game. I also now have some insight as to why they love playing this ‘MOBA’ – Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.

Up until earlier this year, I had never really heard of this game. “Minecraft” was the preferred game being played in our house (I am yet to play that one). My son used to tell me how much he enjoyed playing “League”. He would mention it was a team sport and that some teams compete for huge prize money. My first actual viewing of a game was at the Gold Coast Supanova Pop Culture festival in April, 2014. I was really surprised, at that time, that so many of the crowd were so obviously “into” it. The game was being played by two teams, each with four members. The teams sat on opposite sides of a huge stage, each member’s head popping out from behind a computer screen. Not much to watch really, for the uninitiated but the roar of the crowd and the sheer numbers following every move on the big screens did make me realise this was indeed a popular “sport”. It had all of the hallmarks of being at a live soccer match or MMA bout: roaring crowd, knowledgeable of moves; instant replays; half time interviews; presentation of trophies and fulltime interviews. Doubting what I was really seeing and hearing (I was astonished that an audience would actually cheer the outcome of a computer game), I made my way to a young organisor to ask a few questions. “My son says that these winners are vying for a prize of $50,000 and a trip to compete at the world championships to win US$2 million. Is this true?” I was assured that all of this was the case.

“If the game is free, how can they come up with this amount of prize money?”, was my next question. This is what I was told: “Oh that is because of the micro transactions.” My querying, dumbfounded, unknowing look in response, compelled him to further explain. “The game is totally free. You don’t have to pay to play or compete. There are 121 characters, ‘champions’. You don’t need to pay in real cash to play as a ‘champion’ because you can win points and buy them with that. Though there is an option to buy them, if you don’t want to wait and earn points. Most players will play on average as 14 to 16 of the characters. You can customize the look of your character. To do this you buy a ‘skin’. Most players buy about six to eight skins – cost varies $5 to $10. Last year total revenue for purchases from around the world was US$628 million.”

“Wow,” was my response. (That is a lot of micro-transactions).

I am not yet a convert to this “League”, though I will give it another try because I enjoyed being part of the action and “in the know” with a game my children love.

Which games are popular at your house?

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2 thoughts on ““Don’t confuse mercy for weakness”…

  1. Hi Tony. Bizarre is all I can think, but financially rewarding for some. I’m yet to play a ‘game’ and must admit, even when pac man made it to the neighbours screen, as a child I was never tempted. Pinball was my limit. And I agree, it is great to have insight and knowledge about gaming if for no other reason but to stay in touch with our kids. The great thing about this subject for me, is knowing the cultural coming of age and identity creation implicit in the world of technology and sitting in front of screens isn’t all ‘bad’. Though I continue to wonder about the gender divide. I have 12 and 10 year old girls and they haven’t shown no interest in gaming whatsoever. Is it because it isn’t available to them in the home or because culturally they are swayed in other ‘girl’ directions? If they had a brother would they be likely to become a gamer? Having done this subject, now I would like school to introduce them to the world of gaming and give them a chance to explore the genre, which is a curious mind shift for myself. Thanks for your post. It has given me food for thought. Wendy

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    • I think it has a lot to do with the household each person grows up in. I also have daughters and while I wouldn’t say they are full-on “gamers”, they certainly partake in console games like Mario Kart, The Last of Us, Halo, Katamari and Journey and apps like Minecraft, Plants Vs. Zombies, Clash of the Clans, Dragon City, Kim K, as well as a number of games on their DS’ like Animal Crossing, Legends of Zelda and the various Mario incarnations. The older one also plays Sims on her laptop. We, however, are what might be termed a casual-gamer household. My husband and I do not engage in daily gaming, but we do enjoy dabbling. We have a Playstation, Xbox and a Wii, as well as an ipad, ipods and laptop computers. I suppose we are a fairly “tech”-centric house, so our girls are more exposed to gaming. They have friends whose parents do not “believe” in gaming and as a result, they either appear not to have an interest or go a bit wild when visiting our house and cannot be dragged from the games.

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