Return to DOTA

by anbrewk

Recently, I took it upon myself to get an invite to the DOTA 2 beta. Upon successfully receiving an invite, I have been playing the figurative shit out of the game.  Well, not actually. But I have played a number of matches, to some success! Aha! The best thing I thought about DOTA 2 was that I didn’t have to learn anything new. As it turns out, having not played in 3 years left me not knowing a lot about core changes to DOTA, let alone remastered versions of heroes and items tweaks in DOTA 2.  For example,  they gave big hulking Sven an ability that gives every local friendly a mad speed bonus for a short time. It totally took me off guard when him and his whole team bum rushed me. It took me 3 deaths before I figured out why he was so damn fast. There are so many little things one has to keep track of that one might think the game sounds unplayable for new players, but the hurdles for new players are being addressed in some serious ways by Valve and let me tell you, I’m really impressed.

The biggest criticism of DOTA is the harsh community. I have often said, “only assholes play DOTA” and it has been proven time and time again. So many assholes play DOTA.  The community is ripe with people who will aggressively harass players who don’t play to their expectations. Public games are a morass of shitheads and noobs and almost everyone is both except for you. The problem is endemic in the pub scene (I have no idea about the team scene but I’ve seen replays of teams full of shithead smack talk).  DOTA is a game that you can’t win without a team to support you and for you to support. Just today I played a game with one player who did nothing but farm and in many ways it ruined the game by turning it into a 5v4 but with the illusion that you’ve got one more guy there to help you out. Not talking with your team, not listening to your team, not following your team or paying attention to your minimap, not being there to help or being willing to help, all lead to your team losing. This necessary team component is what I think is the best part of DOTA but it’s also where all the aggression stems from. People really care if you suck. If you suck, the team loses.  Feeding is a problem, not helping is a problem, not understanding your or another heroes abilities is a problem  and it’s a problem for everyone on your team, not just you. The solution had always been to harass those players into leaving the scene.

That’s where DOTA was. Now let me tell you where DOTA 2 might go. The biggest possible change to the scene, I think, is the report/commend system.  In it, a player can report another player for text or voice abuse, intentional feeding, or skill abuse. They can also commend a player for being friendly, helpful, or providing leadership. I don’t think this system in itself will discourage people into good behaviour, but i think it does give those who would rather behave better an outlet for their complaints and a way of encouraging others who are like minded. Playing DOTA, I’ve developed a mean sense of “fuck you” kind of come backs to lots of situations that I’ve just reconciled myself to accepting ‘as like that.’  Essentially, I’ve become really good at ineffectually bullying people on the internet, and it’s something. But amazingly, playing DOTA 2, I’ve made a conscious effort to curb that behaviour in favour of reporting players for inappropriate conduct and saying encouraging and positive things in in game chat. I’ve actually felt pretty good about it too. And those players who are incorrigibly rude I’ve tried to dissuade from being so. I’ve actually made effort to encourage some team cohesion and given positive criticism to both those players who are taking a nose dive and the ones inappropriately commenting on others failures.

All of this probably sounds psychotic to someone not used to playing internetz. Actively encouraging people to not call you or others assholes is some kind of win to me.  Usually it’s so easy to tell someone to fuck themselves and so hard to ask them to please stop being so rude. I’m encouraged by any implementation that would make DOTA, dare I say, a friendly game.