While competitively playing is all well and good, nothing beats playing games casually with friends. Whether you meet them online because they were a cool person in-game, or you just play with your real life friends to keep in touch when you can’t make plans, casual gaming is an extremely important part of the development of the digital and electronic market and, by extension, eSports. As such, games that focus on the casual market and have enough content to keep them interested(whether through DLC, updates, bug fixes, new characters, artwork, videos, community interactions, etc) tend to do quite well in the digital age.
One game that does this exceedingly well is League of Legends(LoL), a free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena(MOBA) created by Riot Games. While the ranked ladder is there for anyone who wants to try their hand at getting good, most players are fairly casual, despite the game being competitive by nature. For those of you not in the loop, the game takes place in a 5v5 setting, each person controls one character(called a champion) with unique abilities, and you push lanes in order to take down turrets/inhibitors and progress to destroying the enemy’s nexus. While that’s a gross simplification of the game itself, it’s easiest to understand by playing a few games of it yourself.
Moving on, what LoL does over it’s competitors is tailor the experience to as many players as possible. They have their own orchestra creating their new champion/event themes. They create unique characters and give them entire backstories to fit their in-game play-style. There are characters for those who want to support their team, siege towers, win fights/be scrappy, frontline tank, and more. There’s artwork for all their champions, including for their skins(cosmetic costume/color change to champions) which you can buy and how Riot makes money off the fanbase. Riot also makes animations and comics to hype certain characters, events—even some of the professional leagues like Worlds! Each champion is fully characterized and voice acted(Design art), and some even have unique interactions with one another if certain conditions are met. These are the things casual gamers can latch onto and enjoy about the game. It allows the enjoyment of competition from a calm, safe setting, and provides a social media platform of sorts for people who want to communicate/play together over a common interest. League hits that happy medium between casual and competitive that maximizes social media impact, and allows further expansion and development, keeping their fanbase interested.
Despite all this, League has some flaws. It can be hard to keep playing and grinding characters if you don’t have friends to play with or just get stomped. People on lower level accounts(called “smurfs”) can completely destroy new players who have no idea what they’re doing, and toxicity is a problem in any large community, online or otherwise. With friends it’s a great experience; on your own it can just be a huge grind. I could make this blog entirely about League and still have content to spare after a year, but doing so would be a disservice to other games. For the purposes of the casual part after this next week and part two, i’ll be talking from personal experience rather than a rundown. Consider this a primer for the casual section much like I did with the eSports section.