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It is an undeniable fact the League of Legends has quickly become the epicenter of the PC gaming universe, taking gaming to new heights, and changing the public’s image of gamers.  Recent Riot estimates have stated the 27 million people play League of Legends daily, making it one of the most played games of today’s world.  On top of the staggering amount of players, a great number of people participate in the community by watching other players stream the game, with approximately 150,000 people doing so as I write this.  For the 2013 World Championship held in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the stadium was sold out to the tune of approximately 15,000+ attendees and was broadcast live on multiple streaming platforms to an estimated 32 million viewers, more than the estimated 18 million viewers that tuned in to watch the San Antonio Spurs clinch the NBA Championship.  Also, it was recently announced that the 2014 World Championship is expected to sell out the 45,000 seat Sangam Stadium in Seoul, and most likely an even greater online viewership than the 2013 World Championship.  In the college scene, more and more colleges are forming teams and competing with other universities across the country, and in one case, a university is now offering athletic scholarships for playing League of Legends.  But how did League of Legends make it to this elite gaming status, and what makes it so popular?

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Staples Center was sold out for the 2013 World Championships (Photo Credit: redbull.com)

Free to Play

One of the biggest enticers of League of Legends is that there is absolutely no cost to play the game, all it takes is determination and time.  The only time a player would be required to use real money is when purchasing a skin for their champion, something that provides no in-game advantage for the player, but only for personal preferences.  Considering that popular console games can be priced as $60 on release, and then require you to pay to download more content to advance the story, and with other online games such as World of Warcraft, that require monthly subscriptions, it is easy to see why so many people are attracted to the free to play model that League of Legends employs.

Social Aspect

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League of Legends Grandest Stage (Photo Credit: usatoday.com)

With most video games, it is often one player, by themselves, taking on bunches of enemies trying to level up for personal gains.  MOBA games, such as League of Legends, DotA, and HoN, provides users the pleasure of working together with 4 other players towards a common goal against another team of real people trying to counter your strategies.  Outside of the game, streaming platforms such as Twitch allow people to feel like they have an impact on the game and its direction.  It is also the one of the few games that allows its fans to have a direct connection to the professionals, as anyone can log onto someone’s latest stream and just post comments about the game and have conversations with the same players they see competing for championships.  No other sport or activity can come close to that kind of connection.

Ability to Pick Up

Another bonus that League of Legends has going for it, is that it has a relatively short learning curve, with an extremely user friendly interface and exemplary tutorials.  Players looking to get into the game for the first time can easily log on and play a few games against low level AI opponents, where victory is almost guaranteed, and can get used to the controls and game play, without the pressure of letting your teammates down or playing against more advanced players that will exploit every mistake that a new player would make.  This feature, coupled with recommended item builds, and online collections of recommended masteries and rune pages, make a much easier playing experience for newcomers, making them want to stay around, play more, and invite their friends to play as well.

Game Format

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SKTT1 captured the 2013 World Championship Title (Photo Credit: redbull.com)

Most importantly, the game’s format itself lends to an exciting and fast paced style of play.  Since every game is approximately 45-60 minutes, players do not have to devote long periods of time to enjoy the game.  This length lends itself to drawing both casual and hardcore gamers alike, as one can only log on to play once a day if they are busy, or spend an entire day playing if you so choose.  Another plus of the game’s format, is that every game starts with a blank slate.  Players do not have to worry about starting the game at a disadvantage, because each game all players have the same gold, same spells to upgrade, and no advantage is given to someone who has logged more hours of playing time.  Because of this, players feel like they are more in control of what goes on as opposed to other games, where someone can get special weapons or armor simply by grinding playing time.

About the Writer

Now that you’ve read about some facts about why I believe League of Legends has become one of the most popular games today, I figure I should tell my side of the story about how I came to love this game and why I still play.  I currently attend Drexel University in Philadelphia, and first got into playing League my freshmen year.  It is worth noting that I had never played any type of PC game before, other than RuneScape, which doesn’t count since I stopped playing around age 12.  Freshmen year, as with any time entering a new school, it was pretty tough getting to meet new people and make new friends.  Luckily for me, one night I heard a big commotion going on in our common areas.  I go out to see what was happening and find 5 of my floor mates having some friendly League competition with one of the other local colleges.  From there on, I was hooked.  Since this was all the way back in Season 1, I was able to learn with a large majority of the League community and was able to pick up the game and get to Level 30 without much hassle.  I loved being able to bond with my floor mates over League of Legends, and this game and community has helped me form many lifelong friendships with people that I never would have met without this game.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to get myself out of Silver, despite many attempts and failed promotion series.  I have come to enjoy just playing the game, to stop focusing so much on my rank, and to really enjoy and interact with the community more.  I even tried my hand with streaming.  Here’s one of my personal favorite highlights, getting a double kill after being caught horribly out of position.  (NOTE: mute the video when it plays, I was not very good with my streaming software at the time).

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