Demystifying MOBAs - a word from the editor

When Eron asked me a while back if VGT would be willing to run a series of essays on the aesthetics, the design and infrastructure of MOBAs, I agreed blindly. And in a literal sense, too: Although I have been playing video games for a quarter of a century and nowadays even earn part of my rent writing about them, I was pitifully ignorant of a phenomenon that is not even just the future, but very much the present of video games.

As Eron writes in his introduction:

The broader problem in talking about video games in a nuanced way is massively amplified with MOBAs since [they] are tricky for both lay and academic audiences, especially since it can take literally hundreds of hours to learn to play these games with any amount of skill, let alone to explore their communities.

This hits home especially for those writing about games professionally: In the already hectic circle of news-previews-release-reviews-oblivion, there is simply no time for most journalists to spend that amount of time on a single game, period. (And to point out a fact most readers of games journalism might be unaware of: Most of the men and women writing about games who are lucky enough to be paid at all, are freelancers. That means they are paid for the text, and not for the time spent playing the game they report on. It's only the absolute minority of games journalists, usually those actually employed by the few remaining specialist outlets, print or online, for whom play time is paid work time. Let that sink in for a minute.) The title of this series is well chosen: It is a de-mystification that's going on here, all right, and a very welcome one at that.

It's bad form hyping your own content, so I'll just say this much: You should read this.

Eron's articles have been featured on VGT for a while; I was proud to feature his series "Bridging Worlds" for a few years now. And still I was quite unprepared for the scope of his series on MOBAs, a scope I can only now grasp fully, after his series has ended. It's bad form hyping your own content, so I'll just say this much: You should read this, no matter if you're already playing MOBAs or, like me, just stand at a distance, wondering at the chorus of millions cheering for a sport that seems to come straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel.

"Demystifying MOBAs", eight essays, 30,000 words total, can be read in the tiniest fracture of time it would take you to understand the basic nuances of character picking in either of the big MOBAs. It's a long read, yes, but it's worth it.


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