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If you’re looking for a game that will ruin games for you, play Dota

I've only just discovered this sub, and it seems like the perfect place to talk about Dota 2(2011). Even if you're just curious to get an insider perspective of this mysterious world in the video-game industry.

First of all I will be entirely honest with you, and tell you what is 99% likely for your experience to be(since it's the experience of virtually every Dota 2 player that makes it through learning the game). It will take months to years for you to reach a mediocre or above skill level in this game. What the game is about at a fundamental level is fairly straight-forward to explain comparatively to how much you have to memorize and learn through practice. And yet, perversely, it is the strategic side that you will never stop learning – the memorizing you will eventually get under control, what you'll have to learn in a new patch is nothing compared to the mountain of information you'll have learned as a beginner.

One thing about Dota to get out of the way. There's an anime on Netflix coming up that is in collaboration with Valve(Dota's and Steam's Developer). The reason this is worth mentioning is one of the ubiquitous complaints Dota players have is the utter lack of marketing over the years, despite us having the largest e-sports in terms of prizepool(this should give you a glimpse into the idea). I, myself, have always, always stayed away from anime. That excellence of character is about to be irrersibly blemished, but alas, anything for Dota. Also, you'll probably be hearing about it at some point if you watch anime or just keep in touch with gaming overall, so thought I'd mention it to contextualize it for you.

*Mods, let me know if you think the above paragraph breaks rules, it really isn't written in that spirit, but I'm open to deleting it exactly for that reason.

If you can't already tell, we're kind of a cult. We are obsessed with this game. We think there's nothing as complex as it, including non-technology games and sports(chess and whatever else have you). Why? The short of it is we have a genius developer. The depth, complexity and balance Dota offers are unrivaled and it's all in large part due to him. It was this anonymous game-dev that popularized and essentially single-handedly prompted the very creation of the MOBA genre – it was under his development that the original mod in Warcraft III became so insanely popular that it inspired stand-alone games to be created in this genre, including its sequel, Dota 2, and the checkers to Dota's chess, League of Legends. One further note on LoL here, if you know anything about it, whether from friends, the media, or having played it yourself, do not fool yourself into thinking you know what Dota is about from LOL alone. They have similar design and mechanics, but despite that the difference between the two is vast, particularly on the depth, complexity and balance side of things.

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There have been statistics done on our playerbase. We are effectively the most isolated gaming community online. That is, we are the least likely to play other games among other playerbases. There's a good reason for this – it's not that we hate video-games simply because they suck, we hate them because they suck compared to Dota. It's kind of like discovering the perfect partner, diet, activity, job, etc. , and then trying out others while still in-love with the current one. It just doesn't work. That being said, Dota is a multi-player game, so this will mostly apply to that side of gaming. While it does take something special for us to like any game, we are more likely to enjoy single-player ones regardless. The only problem, of course, is the ever-lasting thought "This could have been a game of Dota, what the fuck am I doing right now?".

If you ever decide to try out the game, just know that it will be one of the most grueling experiences you'll ever face in life – ever heard of a learning curve? We have more of a learning mountain you have to climb without equipment. The best advice I have for you is to learn by watching other players play and trying to emulate them(this is not how most of the playerbase learned, it is the fastest way, but it takes an additional kind of insanity to do it that way). I've written a tutorial about how to do that exactly here; to be clear, this is only for people who want the most efficient, fastest possible way of learning, it's additionally hard to simply playing and therefore learning at a more natural pace, which is hard enough in its own right within gaming as a whole. Dota, despite being the hardest game in the world, lacks a tutorial. Yeah, you heard that right. And the reason is there just isn't any way to make one that would make sense. You will only actually learn to play this game by… playing it. There's just too much information and too many things to explain, you have to simply experience them. There are community-made tutorials online for various parts of the game, there are lots of videos and encylopedias, and guides, and learning streams, and learning communities, and perhaps Valve will make an official tutorial one day, but it will remain true that you have to play the actual game to learn most of the things you need to learn.

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I've made this whole post about Dota, and never gave you any actual explanation of what the game is about. Why is that? Because it would take too long to explain, essentially. I could explain it in very simple terms, but it wouldn't give you any kind of clue as to what it actually is. Here's live gameplay of it on twitch, though(pro, I will update this if/while the post is being read). You still won't understand anything, but at least you can actually see the game in action.

In conclusion, I can promise you a couple of things about this game. You will never grow bored with it. Literally, never. You will always be learning, even if you reach the highest skill bracket and win millions of dollars playing in tournaments. You will feel incredibly fulfilled by the game's skill-ceiling and depth regardless of your actual skill-level overall. And, take this with some salt but I do think it's true, these things combined give you a sort of meaning and fulfillment that pretty much make up a natural anti-depressant. Another possible psychological reward at the end of the hell you'll experience learning it is that you will grow an impossibly thick skin which will stay with you forever, as well as give you some unique and valuable perspective over a lot of things in life. I can't think of a better simulation of how utterly debilitating and impossible to crack reality can be when you give it your all – complete with the occasional, dust in the sun, high up the mountain vista that comes with every worthwhile experience.

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