Curious about MOBAs but don't know the first thing about them? This primer has you covered.
Let's be honest: if you're not accustomed to multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) style games, it can be really difficult to follow the action of a match. Or even if you do decide to play one of the big MOBAs (chiefly League of Legends and Dota 2), just jumping into the deep end with no idea how the games work can spell quick heartbreak.
And it's not like you're a fool. After all, you read ZAM, so we assume you are a smart, well-rounded individual with a balanced media diet and a taste for new things. It's just that MOBAs can be so overwhelming, and so unapproachable for newcomers. Luckily, that's where this guide comes in.
Written by Eron Rauch for Videogame Tourism, this eight-part primer has a few dense moments -- Rauch is an artist and VGT isn't a general-interest publication -- but it's still an incredibly lucid, methodically laid-out guide not just to the how of MOBAs but also why people enjoy watching them as a spectator sport.
Here's an excerpt, talking about how we've come to enjoy sports as a form of storytelling:
Aside from the interest of amateur players in seeing the best plays in their favorite game, part of the attraction is that these events are produced to resemble a reality show version of massive medieval pageants. [...] almost unnoticed, professional wrestling’s style of storytelling, with its soap opera mix of reality show theatrics and stark dramatic archetypes, has become the core way that almost all sports broadcasting is handled. Combining reality television’s heightened drama with broad theatrical tropes for telling stories of struggle and triumph turns out to be a formula that can salve the oft-chaffing complexity of sports arcana for novices and the boredom that broadcasters dread during dull parts of the game. In esports, how can you do anything but cheer for the plucky SumaiL (Syed Sumail Hasan) as the casters explicate how he started playing at eight years old in Pakistan and was so poor he had to sell his bike to get money to play Dota2, emigrated around the world to play for the American team Evil Geniuses, and now at age 16 is sitting on stage in the finals with ten million dollars on the line?
I highly recommend setting this one aside to read in chunks. While it won't lend you specific gameplay strategies or anything like that, it's a great insight into why MOBAs are what they are and why that's so interesting to people, including the author.
Disclosure: Riot Games, which develops League of Legends, shares a corporate parent with ZAM.
Kris Ligman is the News Editor for ZAM. Find them on Twitter @KrisLigman.