Author: emilysob

LoL is more than just a game it’s a community

My research aims throughout this study have been to gain a better understanding of the online gaming culture across eastern and western platforms, through analysing League of Legends (LoL). In order to achieve this I have explored different elements of the gaming culture such as, the idea of celebrity, interacting with the game through personal experience, analysing competition and exploring different motifs reflected within the culture.

Through my research I have come to realise that online gaming culture strives on two very important elements; competition and teamwork, both of which I consider to be two extremely social and interactive constructs.

Online video game culture allows the users to use two different faces – one being a virtual avatar and the other being a physical space. (Hung, 2007) Physical space is important to this video game culture as it can be experienced and accessed in many different varying from at home in ones bedroom to an internet café. The idea of space is so important to understanding how different gamers interact with one another. Twitch TV is an example of this, through providing a platform for gamers to watch other gamers in their own private space interacting online essentially transforming their bedroom into a public sphere. This blurs the lines in the gaming world between online and offline expression of identity. (Hung, 2007)

One of the most fascinating parts of this research has been that of Esports (The Electronic Sports League), which is a youth culture that is not only experienced online but also offline. (Weiss, 2013)

This whole competitive and interactive culture behind online gaming creates a interesting social network and presents something I always assumed was a leisurely activity as a well marketed sub-culture that is internationally recognized.

One thing that I found to be most interesting about LoL as an online community was that this culture function as a collective and have through this ‘team spirit’ been able to achieve philanthropic action. For example, in 2011 League of Legends players formed together to raise over $162, 000 for victims of the Tsunami that had destroyed Japan earlier that year. (News RX, 2011)

All of the research I have discovered and through my own personal experiences gained, it has been brought to my attention that online gaming culture and games such as LoL are not merely a way to kill time, they are a lifestyle, a career, a leisure activity and a sense of community and freedom for so many young people across multiple cultural platforms.

References:

Hung, Chia-Yuan, 2007, ‘Video games in context: An ethnographic study of situated meaning-making practices of Asian immigrant adolescents in New York City’, Teachers College, Columbia University, Authors and Digital Games Research Association, pp248-253

NewsRX, 20/04/2011, ‘Riot Games; Video Game Players Raise over $160, 000 for the Red Cross to support earthquake and Tsunami victims in Japan through League of Legends.’ Electronics Buisness Journal, ProQuest, <http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/861693151?accountid=15112&gt; Date Accessed: 20/10/2014

Weiss Thomas, Schiele Sabrina, 2013, ‘Virtual worlds in competitive contexts: Analyzing eSports consumer needs’ Institute of Information Management, University of St. Gallen < <http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/620/art%253A10.1007%252Fs12525-013-0127-5.pdf?auth66=1414062967_bda624ea852cada00322933d3be1e4c5&ext=.pdf > Date Accessed: 20/10/2014

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LoL vs DotA: To defeat your enemy you must understand your enemy… or something like that…

I don’t know if I mentioned this before but during my high school years I dabbled in the game DotA. I was never any good or really knew what was going on, but the boys I went to school with used to go to the internet café across the road from the train station and local shopping center after school to verse each other in the game. Some of my girlfriends and I would join them to watch and sometimes participate. I distinctly remember being a chicken with a backpack and running around the screen – this is about all I remember to be completely honest. When years later and I discovered my brother and his friends playing what appeared to be some kind of Warcraft game I automatically assumed they were playing DotA, to which my brother corrected me and sounding almost offended by my stupidity informed me that it was in fact LoL.

This baffled me, as both the games are the same right? THEY LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME! Well no, they are actually not the same and this is an extremely touchy subject for lots of different people involved in the online gaming world, so do yourself a favour and don’t ever suggest it is the same thing!

As part of my research concerning LoL I wanted to explore this idea of the competing games differences and similarities and how they co-exist with one another. To do this I took to YouTube and found an interesting video almost like a DotA vs LoL for dummies. I have included the video below:

This video essentially depicts the history of both DotA and LoL and compares the two games. This video helped my gain an understanding into how the games are perceived from an insider point of view. In the video the narrator introduces you to significant game creators and this presents a link between the two games. DotA and LoL both gained mainstream popularity with help from a video game creator by the name of Guinsoo. Guinsoo helped to shape DotA and turn it into a more approachable game through introducing player to player options, adding variety and different monsters to the map. Guinsoo then passed the game onto a creator by the name of Ice Frog (their names are so good, it’s hilarious) and Ice Frog helped to build DotA’s popularity through increasing it’s player base. DotA however was still a ‘mod’ of Warcraft and as a result of this it relied on Warcraft engines to run, limiting it’s functioning and making it hard to control.

Guinsoo saw this as an opportunity to introduce a new game to the marketplace – LoL. Along with Pen Dragon (another fantastic name) Riot Games was formed and essentially LoL was created using DotA as inspiration, however adapting the game through introducing new artstyles, champions and items. LoL used simplified mechanics and got rid of difficulties users had found with DotA. This gave LoL a competitive advantage and explains why the game is so much more successful and groses the most amount of profit internationally. LoL is free to play and easier for players to learn therefore it is extremely accessible, especially for first time players.

The video goes on further to say that DotA fans refer to LoL as a “casual game” due to this modifications.

Through browsing the comments on the video I found a comment that had received a large number of likes, this comment was from a YouTube user named, Mr Leemurman and it stated: “LOL= Toxic Newbs, DOTA= Elitist Jerkwads, Pick your poison.” This made me laugh, as it explains the way in which the two games are marketed against one another within the gaming community.

Through watching this video I have gained a much broader understanding of the origins of LoL and how it is compared to other games within it’s genre.

 

 

 

LOL World Championship

So I know I said I was going to watch the Chinese LOL championships unfortunately I didn’t end up getting a chance to watch this, so rather I am going to discuss the League of Legends (LOL) world championship finals that took place on the 18th of October. This world championship is held for the professional players and is presented as a sporting event for them to merit their gaming skills. This recent esports event gained a huge audience of 32 million viewers. LOL has evidently become the most popular esport across an international platform. The LOL world championship winners Samsung White from Korea earned themselves a prize of one million USD. (Pitcher, 2014)

The two teams that versed each other in the world championships final were both from Asia the winners, Samsung White from Korea and the runners-up Star Horn Royal club from China. Even though both finalists were from eastern countries it’s interesting that the world championships were broadcast throughout the USA in different theatres. (Pitcher, 2014) As you can see teams professional LOL teams are sponsored by corporations such as Samsung, like any successful sporting team in society.

One of my classmates Jessica commented on my previous blog post about LOL and connected me with an interesting article on ethnographical research concerning the increase in video gaming culture. The article entitled: ‘Video games in context: An ethnographic study of situated meaning-making practices of Asian immigrant adolescents in New York City’ was an interesting read and I would recommend it if you are interested in this topic, so thanks Jess.

After reading this article in conjunction with my own personal experience of attempting to play LOL I feel as though I have gained an insight into the time, energy and teamwork that is associated with this hobby and sport.

In current society older generations are consistently questioning if social interactions and skills are being lost through the introduction of technology, however I believe this article challeneges this idea through providing first hand evidence into the intricate details of video game culture and its interactions. Video games involve so much more than just playing a game with your friends, they provide a platform of social interaction that not only creates a community and a circle of common interests, while also providing members with a skill and knowledge of how to use different media forms. (Hung, 2007)

I experienced this in my own interactions with LOL online. When you play the game as a member of a team of 5 players you are able to interact with each other through a chat room, through headsets and this is anything but an anti-social or solitude experience. I found it extremely overwhelming and completely daunting, if you make a mistake and let down your team, they will let you know and you feel very much involved with the other members of your team.

References

Hung, Chia-Yuan, 2007, ‘Video games in context: An ethnographic study of situated meaning-making practices of Asian immigrant adolescents in New York City’, Teachers College, Columbia University, Authors and Digital Games Research Association, pp248-253

Pitcher, Jenna, 19/10/2014 ‘Samsung White Wins 1M, League of Legends 2014 World Championship, IGN News, http://au.ign.com/articles/2014/10/20/samsung-white-wins-1m-league-of-legends-2014-world-championship Date Accessed: 20/10/2014

My First Game of LOL (League of Legends)

This week I played my first two games of LoL using my older brothers account. He logged on to the LoL client for me and set me up in what is known as a ‘Blind Pick’ game.

The ‘Blind Pick’ game is a PvP (player vs player) game with two teams of 5 players fight for victory. As the game was loading my brother explained to me that the way a game of LoL is won is by one team destroying the other teams ‘nexus’. Each teams ‘Nexus’ is in their base, which are located on the diagonally opposite corners of the map from each other.

The map is split into 3 lanes and what is called the ‘jungle’. I was informed that once I was in the champion select screen I would have to call a role and pick the champion I wanted to use. Calling a role is when you pick what position you want to play in for the game and the options are Toplane, Midlane, Jungle, ADC and Support.

The matchmaker found a game for me and I was finally in champion select (this took about 3 mins) and everyone called their role before me so I had to go support, which is apparently the least desired role. The champion I picked was a little fairy called ‘Lulu’.

While we were in the champion select screen my team was already arguing with one another over who had said ‘mid’ first and my brother said this was normal and that the Oceanic server (server for Australia, New Zealand and the pacific islands) was the most toxic other than the Brazilian server and I should expect to see more fights soon.

I got into game and I had to pick 1 of 4 spells to start with and buy items (the game gives recommended items to buy) then I went to bottom lane to fulfill my role of support.

I was in the bottom lane with my “ADC’ who is the champion that does a lot of damage but dies easily, my role as support is to keep them alive. It turned out it was hard enough to keep myself alive…

Within a couple of minutes I had been killed by the enemy team, and I respawned back at my base. There is just so much to process on the screen and everything happens so fast.

My brother over my shoulder kept telling me to upgrade my spells and where to go but it is too much to process, I die again.

My brother starts laughing and tells me that my team is all abusing me in the chat menu. They are calling me a scrub and a troll. Someone says that I am cancer, not exactly constructive criticism.

The games follows this pattern until the 20 minute mark where my team surrenders and all agrees to report me, this is common when someone plays badly I am told by my brother and it doesn’t actually have any effect as people rarely get banned. I end the game with the score of 0 kills and 12 deaths but I am told I actually did pretty good for my first game. My brother says it takes around 2 months just to learn the very basics.

So after a brutal attempt at breaking into the gaming world I would say that my first impression of playing LoL is that it is a very hard game to learn, requiring extensive knowledge of the game in order to play well. Despite these difficulties for new players the games community has no patience for anyone trying to learn.

I don’t think I’ll be attempting to play again anytime soon.

Auto-Ethnography

The study of ethnography enables a user to gather information through the analysis of multiple areas and sources rather than through personal relations. Auto-ethnography is when this style of ethnographic research is paired with self-reflectivity where the author is able to use personal experiences, through placing themselves within the social context they are researching and gaining an insight into their personal perception of the cultural and social ramifications involved with the area of research. (Alsop, 2002) The personal experience gained in Auto-ethnographic research essentially must depict the culture in which it is addressing and achieve this through combining elements from the research styles, autobiography and ethnography. (Ellis, 2011)

In my individual assessment I have chosen to look at the cultural phenomenon surrounding online video game culture – in particular the online game League of Legends (LOL). My reason for choosing this topic was that in recent years I have noticed a large number of young men I am associated with have began playing this game regularly (pretty much in daily). I have witnessed the dominance it has taken in their social lives. My brother and my brother-in-law are often located at their computers with headsets on their heads, taking to their friends (or each other) about planned attacks on other teams and other gaming banter. In the next couple of weeks I intend to embark upon my own ethnographical research of the game League of Legends and anaylse how it has developed into more than just a from of leisure or social interaction but rather a lifestyle and potentially for some consumers a career.

I intend to achieve this auto-ethnographic research through, playing the game LOL myself and gaining an understanding into how the game operates and why it has gained such a cult following, I will compare LOL to other popular online games such as DOTA. Further research will include; researching popular culture characters and players within the games, how this game is appreciated across cultures – in particular Asian gaming culture. I will explore the way in which Asian gaming culture has achieved success resulting in opportunity for players with talent and motivation are able to compete in national leagues professionally. In order to achieve this I will watch the chinese championship on twitch which was recently broadcasted. I will interact with popular gaming websites such as Moba which is a massive online battle arena and the website Azubu in order to gain further knowledge on the popular media forms affiliated with this culture.

References:

Ellis, Carolyn, Adams, Tony E, Bochner, Arthur P, 2011, Autoethnography: An Overview, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Volume 12, No. 1, Art 10

Alsop, Christiane, K, 2002, Home and Away: Self-Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Theories, Methods, Applications, Vol 3, No. 3

LOL, you’re twitching…

The gaming industry is the second fastest growing media segment in the world and is expected to reach 100 billion dollars by 2017. Online gaming it at the largest it has ever been and is increasing every day, as a result of this there has been a number of websites that have been developed in relation to gaming and created new platforms for gamers to communicate, educate and share their experiences with fellow gamers.

In this digital age the relationship between the institutions, the e-community and the audience are all essential to how a game is experienced and exerted into modern popular culture.

In League of Legends (LOL) gamers use different online mediums to connect with other players and show off their skills and approaches to playing the game. Websites such as Twitch TV become an opportunity for people with skill and ability to broadcast their accomplishments and provide a live feed of their progress throughout the game.

I found this concept most interesting and before embarking upon this subject and researching this topic I had completely no idea what Twitch TV even was- however it seems to be hugely popular, the total noob in me strikes once again!

These gamers use institutions such as Twitch TV as a public sphere to share their social narratives. The idea that people use exterior websites to watch other people playing a video game is completely foreign to me. Why would anyone do that? Are they doing it to get tips on how to improve their performance? Are they just being a busy body? What is the deal? Why?

On Twitch TV I found a Korean professional LOL player who used Twitch TV as a source of advertisement for his LOL skill. http://www.twitch.tv/soloqnewb. His name is ‘soloqnewb’ and he claims to be ranked 5×5, his tagline states ‘Learn from a pro, play as pro’

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 4.31.42 PM

Through this he draws audiences into his physical space providing them with a chatroom where they can contact him through instant message as well as providing them with the opportunity to see how he approaches the game, essentially giving a behind the scenes view to what is on his computer screen.

I feel like when you’re browsing on Twitch TV it’s almost as if you are looking from a different point of view. It feels very personal and like a secret inside look, almost like you are looking through the players eyes seeing exactly what they see on their screen – it’s almost creepy and feels like an over-share. Twitch TV creates an interactive platform and essentially is an amazing new media platform, which contributes to the cultural phenomenon of social media and exploring the way in which people interact with one another.

References:

Brightman James, ‘Mobile gaming to push industry above $100 billion by 2017’

14/01/2014, <http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-01-14-mobile-gaming-to-push-industry-above-USD100-billion-by-2017 >

Date Accessed: 28/08/2014

Russo Angelica, Watkins Jerry, Digital Cultural Communication: Enabling new media and cocreation in SouthEast Asia, Queensland University of Technology, Australia International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 2005, Vol. 1, Issue 4, pp. 417.

LOL

I have never really gotten into online games such as world of warcraft (WOW) or league of legends (LOL) because lets face it, I am a complete noob and would probably suck at it. My older brother however is obsessed with these types of computer games. He spends almost his entire spare time playing online with a group of friends who form a ‘team’ in LOL and attack others. (See I bet even that sentence made me sound like the biggest noob.)

Considering he spends almost all his free time doing this I thought he must be pretty good, right? So I asked him one day and his response was “I’ve been playing for 3 years and I’m still a beginner.” WHAT! This intrigued me – why would you play a game for 3 years all the time and still not even be the best at it or one of the best. How often are people playing these virtual games if this is how difficult it is to excel at them?

So I decided to do a little research on this game ‘LOL’. According to its Wikipedia page League of Legends was developed in 2008 by Riot Games, and data gathered in 2014 states that over 67 million people play League of Legends every month.

League of Legends has gotten so popular that there has been an international series created called the League of Legends Championship Series in which there are 8 teams of professionals in each continent.

When I was speaking to my brother about League of Legends he was telling me about controversy that had begun when a LOL crew from China by the name of LMQ Tian Ci moved to the California at the end of 2013 and began competing in the North American League. According to my brother this “pissed a lot of people off.”

This inspired me to do some research of LMQ and who they are in relation to LOL. According to dailydot’s article the players within LMQ quickly developed fan followings with one particular player by the name of Vasilii quickly gaining large followings on both Twitch and Twitter.

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 8.50.55 PM

Although the group has qualified for the League of Legends Championship Series within North America there has been a large number of controversy surrounding ownership of the team. The reason behind LMQ’s relocation from China to America was to avoid the corruption that had taken place within the Chinese League, however it now seems as though arguments over sponsorships and ownership of the team has followed them all the way to the USA causing an uproar within the gaming world.

I find this all extremely fascinating that this game made for people to unite as a team and compete against other people has a gritty underbelly of celebrity and money and corruption across cultures.

Crazy right?

Apparently there is also this ‘celebrity’ status gamer from Belgium called Athene who has raised exceptional amounts of money for charities through LOL, however he is once again a controversial member of the League and has come under a large amount of scrutiny for his actions. Will definitely look more into this in the weeks to come.

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Japanese Prank Shows

The concept of a ‘prank’ show on television appears to be a universally popular platform of entertainment in Western and Eastern society. In Japanese culture games/ prank shows are extremely common and consist of many elaborate pranks involving multiple different people agreeing to trick an unknowing participant.

Japanese prank shows differ from that of American prank shows as their pranks are more strategically crafted and outlandish than that of Western or America prank shows. It is this that makes their shows stand out across cultures as exciting and hilarious.

I was sitting with my sister –in-law the other night and she showed me a link on YouTube of a Japanese prank show where there is a woman sitting in a hallway out the front of an elevator with her cleavage out and a low cut shirt. They then get 10 men to walk by and wait for the elevator. Little do these men know they are secretly being filmed for a prank show. There is a timer placed and everytime the man looks at the woman’s “assets” more time is added to his elevator wait. In this prank show the men are then showed in the audience of the game show showing them watching their reactions. This style of prank show is a lot more controversial than the type of prank shows you see on western commercial television. The Japanese have original and inventive ideas for ways in which to embarrass and publicly shame one another, IT’S GREAT!

How does this differ to Western prank shows: Japanese prank shows push social boundaries that western culture are to ‘shy’ or ‘politically correct’ to present. Japanese game shows often are more outlandish and present a more openly sexual or more contrived elaborate element than western society.

The main cultural struggle I found with this video was the language barrier. Due to the videos lack of subtitle it made it slightly challenging to initially understand what was happening, however even though these language barriers exist I was still able to enjoy the basic structure of the prank.

Here below is the Japanese prank show: 

 

 

 

 

DIGC330, yo.

Hi DIGC330,

My name is Emily O’Brien and I am currently completing my final semester of a bachelor degree in communications and media studies, majoring in marketing and advertising.

I was born and raised in Sydney where I live in the St George area and work part-time at a local pub, bartending while I complete my degree.

I can’t believe I am in my final semester of university FINALLY! Due to some part-time study and deferring I have managed to turn a 3 year degree into a 5 year degree and I am really looking forward to finishing up and graduating.

I have just returned to university from 6 months off for overseas travel. Two of my friends and I travelled to Mexico, followed by a road trip across the USA in a ridiculous campervan that had a giant lobster painted on it and was called the ‘surf and turf’. Our road trip started on the west coast in San Francisco and LA where we then made our way across the country stopping at many different site and places including Coachella music festival the Grand Canyon, Vegas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, Miami, New York, Boston and Salem. It was such an amazing experience and extremely eye opening. After taking time off and having my little crazy adventure I’m really struggling to get back into the swing of university life, so bare with me if my blog posts are a little rusty.

Oh and for all you Breaking Bad fans out there.

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This one’s for you!