If you’ve ever found yourself sitting there, playing League of Legends while you’re thinking, “This isn’t fun right now,” yet you still find yourself playing the game, then you’re probably with us when we say League of Legends is addicting. It’s the type of feeling you get when you make a big bowl of banana pudding, eat half of it, know that you’re full, yet continue to eat the other half.
Yeah, that’s not even an accurate comparison – Banana pudding is yummy, …but when you continuously die in League of Legends, it’s not so yummy. In fact, you start to feel frustrated – banana pudding doesn’t make you feel frustrated when it’s your favorite food. Miraculously, when you’re doing bad in LoL, you keep going …you keep going like an energizer bunny, refusing to walk away from the keyboard. Then it continues getting worse, yet you continue to queue up for the net match.
Let’s compare League of Legends to an actual drug. Let’s say a person gets hooked on crack – what happens there is the dopamine receptor’s in your brain become overpowered with dopamine that it shouldn’t have, causing your brain to get happy and then, over time, your brain only gets happy from the drug because your natural sources of happiness aren’t supplying enough dopamine.
We can compare this to League in a way because even though there aren’t many “highs,” that feeling we have when we hit that special skillshot or outplay another in 1v1 is epic. So, for this reason, we suffer through those “lows” of playing the game, farming minions for what feels like hours just to get a couple of epic moments in.
This argument, however, isn’t that good – it’s just not good enough. Apart from the reality that outplaying someone in the game gives us the same amount of dopamine as some drug does is uncertain, League has modes, such as ARAM. Those modes can eliminate the monotonous drudgery and transform LoL into a skillshot frenzy.
Despite it all, I find that I’m not drawn to ARAM, not in the least. Sure, there are times when I play it, but most of all, I play ranked. Perhaps it could be because the “highs” in ARAM are too familiar, making it so that we don’t recognize them or appreciate them enough? Yet, this doesn’t really explain why I get zero satisfaction from playing ARAM, and a lot from playing ranked.
Okay, so let’s take a look at ranked games and see if there’s something different going on.
Obviously, from the beginning, we understand that ranked games are more about competition, which makes that annoying part of the game more tolerable since we know we’re doing something that matters.
It’s similar to NBA games – like where you have players that don’t have to do anything flash, but instead, they’re doing the heavy work like getting rebounds and so on.
In League, it’s a bit like this – That Janna support, who is well known for pressing E a million times in a match, has just as much importance as the Riven, who is keen to all of the Riven mechanics.
In a normal game though, I think you would have more fun winning a game on Riven than you would on Janna, and this notion tells us that those ranked games give meaning to our suffering.
Just like other League players, I love making my way up that ranked ladder. That feeling we get from climbing ranks is excellent.
Many people look at climbing as their primary source of satisfaction, and we can understand this – maybe this is why LoL addiction is a real thing because we all grave satisfaction, and League ranked can give us that.
For those addicted to League of Legends, is that all it really is – the satisfaction? Is that the reason we have played thousands of hours of League? That can’t be it. There are many other large games out there that have a competitive player base and rank players. Chess is an excellent example of that, but it’s hard to find someone addicted to Chess as they are to LoL.
There’s got to be something with the game design that makes people so addicted to League of Legends. What could it be?
For most players, the typical game goes like this:
First 10 minutes – During the first ten minutes, we farm minions assist our jungle with ganks, try to 1v1 the top lane enemy, and avoid dying to enemy ganks.
Afterward, we either group with our team to force objectives or we transition to split pushing.
If we look at the game on a basic level, it involves taking the correct steps to many easy situations. Farming minions just so happens to be one of those easy situations – when you notice a minion getting low, you need to last hit it.
Another one of those “simple situations” involves dodging skillshots – there’s a Morgana Q coming your way, so you need to get your Champion out of the way.
Look at it this way:
League of Legends is just a super long series of easy situations combined with rare moments where we witness complex situations.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons behind LoL addiction is due to the fact that the simple situations we just mentioned are super easy – when you make the correct decision, this causes the brain to release dopamine – this happens every couple of seconds. Eventually, these little spurts of dopamine added up into one outweigh the more significant bits of dopamine a player receives when they make big plays.
Yes, I just rambled quite a bit about the game, and I have suggested the two things that I believe are responsible for LoL addiction:
- The competitive/ranked aspect of LoL
- There are many little victories that happen throughout the game, which make you happier than you realized.
Long story short, the “boring” part of the game Is where the most satisfaction is!