Skim & Watch: MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

A long time favourite game of mine is League Of Legends.

The mechanics of League Of Legends are as follows. The player selects an avatar, a ‘champion’, from a pool of potential champions. Based on the champion they select, they are allowed a specific set of actions during the game which align with the champion’s unique backstory and lore. These actions may only be undertaken to harm a player on the other team, an ‘enemy champion’.

These mechanics create team-play dynamics where groups of  up to 5 work together to strategically match their abilities, synergise their actions, or purchase specific items in order to defeat the enemy team by working their way across the map to destroy the enemy team’s home base. The individual player is also able to build and improve their own champion over time.

Combined, these mechanics and dynamics create various aesthetic of play which make League of Legends so fun to play. A sensory pleasure derives from the outstanding visuals of the game. Each player champion’s abilities are represented differently using graphics and audio, and this is extremely stimulating.

The mechanics, which are based on each champion’s backstory, lead to the creation of fantasy. The player feels an escape to a fantasy world as they are emotionally invested in the character they are playing, whose mechanics are based on a backstory of their lives which is fleshed out in character guides, internet lore, and even movie/video franchises.

The team-play dynamics further create fellowship and competition. As the players work in teams of up to 5 to defeat each other, there is a sense of camaraderie in facing a common enemy.

Finally, there is ample opportunity for expression throughout the game. The selection of the champion based on mechanics is an expression of preference. League players commonly talk about feeling affiliated to certain types of champions, like mages or assassins. There exists “playstyles” by the way you use mechanics to play a champion. How you play a champion is a way to express yourself: we hear of “aggressive” or passive playstyles.

Overall, the mechanics of League Of Legends creates interesting individual and team dynamics which fulfil many aspects of the aesthetics of play.

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