IT IS NOT JUST A GAME

On: September 9, 2013
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About Alexandros Valarakis
My name is Alexandros Valarakis and I was born and raised in Athens, the capital of Greece. I graduated from the Physics department of National and Kapodistrian Univeristy of Athens. I worked as an editor in arts column at Kaleidoskopio magazine.

   

It was not far ago when in order for you to have a video game experience you had to purchase a game package which included a DVD and instructions. Nowadays, with the evolution of the internet, games are bought through Digital Distribution. Moreover, instead of having a solo game experience you can play online with other people all over the world through a Game Client. Those changes lead to another era in which more and more games can be downloaded and played for free.

A typical example is League of Legends created by Riot Games corporation. The game belongs to a specific genre called MOBA or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Basically its a real time strategy game, in which each player controls a single champion-character. The small company was created by a couple of entrepreneurial gamers and succeeded on becoming one of the most known worldwide. At the beginning, only a small number of people where playing the game. Then Riot decided to enhance the communication with the gamers community.

The hole concept was to create a solid society of gamers who can interact with each other and with the company. Riot begun externalizing the artistic process of the creation of the game by sharing with the public the creators work. Through a YouTube channel they started showing people how the game is created and why do they chose to make it like that. By this way not only they could explain the meta of the game but also give the community an inside view of the League of Legends world creation.


These peeks behind the scenes, were welcomed with enthusiasm by the community which grew faster and faster. This way players could get closer to the birth and transformation of the virtual environment in which they play and therefore get this feeling of intimacy. Moreover the company was getting a huge amount of feedback from the players regarding the changes they made. This way gamers were not just a passive audience but they got to participate in a way to the actual creation of the world.

The growth of League of Legends society had an impact on the behavioral quality of the gamers. So Riot decided to give the community the power to cleanse itself by introducing the Tribunal. What they did, basically, was to allow players to vote on cases, build from inside game reports of misbehavior. The majority of votes lead either to punishment or to pardon. The evergrowing society also brought along many fans who expressed themselves in a more positive way by creating art forms. All the songs, pictures, sculptures, costumes, paintings that where created by fans were shown into a series of episodes called Summoners Showcase. In this way Riot managed to give voice to the players and at the same time strengthen and solidify the community.

One of the biggest accomplishments of Riot is that they persuaded the US government to accept League of Legends e-athletes as pro athletes and therefore have the right to acquire Internationally Recognized Athletes Visa. This way international pro gamers were able to easily get the required permission to enter the states and be part of US teams or to participate in tournaments.

League of legends was the motivation force for many other companies and platforms to be created. Mobafire is a site where the gamers community uploads and discuss strategy guides. By using LOLNexus players can spy their opponents stats.Twitch.TV is a live streaming video platform where pro players stream while they play and share their strategies and techniques with the community. LOLKing visualizes your character’s stats and therefore helps to analyze and improve the players gaming skills.

We can see now how many different communities are created around a main core, which is ‘the game’. From the creators, the fans, the pro players and their families, the shoutcasters, who present the tournaments, and the crews, who work behind the scenes, down to the companies that emerge. It is a network of micro societies who expand from the virtual world to the real one. But the most amazing thing is that the game itself has become a platform of communication in which educational features can emerge. It has become a mean of introducing to its society concepts like arts, ethics, justice and many other. New media is creating an era in which virtual worlds can shape our culture in every imaginable way, it gives the possibility to even change Government policies. Over all it is a living and breathing organism. It is not just a game.

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