DOTA is a strategy video game created by Valve. It is one of the many multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) custom games in the video game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion, The Frozen Throne. The ownership and development of DOTA was passed on multiple times since its initial release, until Valve hired the game’s lead designer IceFrog and after a legal dispute with Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of Warcraft III, secured a deal that allowed for Valve to inherit the trademark to DOTA. DOTA gameplay centres around two teams of five players in which the victory condition is to destroy the opponent team’s “Ancient” building. Each team roles usually comprise of three core players: the carry, mid-lanner, off-lanner and last but not least the two supports. Each player is in control of a character termed “hero” and would be role-playing his or her role during the game. While DOTA players have developed many strategies over the years to achieve the winning condition, the general consensus is that the core players will be trying to get as much gold as possible during the early stages of the game to acquire items that will make them stronger later in the game so that they can kill the opponent heroes whereas supports will help the core players to achieve this goal during the early stages of the game.
A sequel to DOTA, DOTA2, was released by Valve in July 2013. The game retains the same gameplay elements as its predecessor, while introducing new support and mechanics, as well as a setting separate from the Warcraft universe.
Lens 2 & Lens 3: Surprise & Fun
In DOTA2, the element of surprise is evident when teams adopt strategies that are not normally executed in the game itself which will catch their opponents off guard. In the video below, a professional team NoTideHunter baits with one of its team members to die to Roshan, which is one of the neutral spawns in the game to cause the opponent team EG to think that NoTideHunter is attempting to kill Roshan so they start moving to the Roshan pit. EG took the bait and proceeded to the pit but was ambushed by NoTideHunter’s heroes which were stronger in the early stage of the game. This bait gave NoTideHunter two free kills which secured some gold for the team and provide them a slight advantage at the start of the game. Even though the opponent gave away two hero kills, the thrill of discovering this unique and unconventional strategy and being taken by surprise are also what makes the game fun for the opponents as well.
Lens 4: Curiosity
There are more than 100 heroes to choose and more than 120 items to acquire in DOTA and since each hero has at least four skills/abilities. This would mean that there are more than a 100 000 permutations in terms of skills and items that one can obtain during the game itself.
Due to the vast number of combinations that a player can try in each game, players will always be curious to play the next because there will definitely be some combinations that they have not tried. Even in professional teams where players spend hours everyday trying to find a new strategy or combination of items and heroes, there will bound to be some that were still unexplored. This is evident in the main annual DOTA2 competition – The International where new item combinations were displayed or unconventional strategies were brought to light.
Lens 5: Endogenous Value
DOTA2 players could also earn money and gain new character skins from playing the game. There are four major tournaments held annually during the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and each of these typically have prizes worth at least $1 million USD. Among these, the main event is The International and the most recent one has prizes worth of $40 million USD. Apart from competing, players could also stream their gameplay on twitch or create youtube channels to gain income. One of the more popular DOTA2 twitch streamers include AdmiralBulldog and Gorgc and their income average to be around $10 000 USD per month. There are also popular DOTA2-related youtube channels such as Dota Watafak which has around 3 million subscribers. DOTA2 teaching platforms such as Gameleap are also becoming increasingly popular where experienced players can teach the newer players how to become a better player and earn some tuition fees. Nowadays, players also sell their high ranking account that has more character skins. These monetary rewards and greater in-game benefits act as a motivation for players to continue playing DOTA2.
Lens 6: DOTA2 have some form of Problem Solving Activity
DOTA2 has a really complex game mechanism and sometimes when it seems impossible for a team to win, there are instances when they do win eventually in the later stage of the game. For example, DOTA2 has a feature which makes use of AI to determine the probability of a team winning a game based on factors such as team kills, number of infrastructures remaining and team total gold etc. As we can see from the article link below, a team managed to win eventually even though they are far behind in terms of resources and team kills through countering the opponents camping outside their spawn and fighting on higher grounds with vision. It is not uncommon for teams to lack far behind in terms of resources and win the game later on because there are many ways to close the gap like having the carry to farm for gold (gain gold through killing mobs) for extended period of time, buying certain items that counter the opponent teams’ spells or even choosing the right enemy hero to cast your spell on so that the enemy team will be unable to execute the plan they intended. Usually, when I am playing the game, I get frustrated when my team is far behind in terms of team kills but I realized that is also when I start to think carefully about every single item choice and think about whether it is wise to engage the enemy hero. Sometimes I do manage to make a comeback with my team and the thrill that I get from doing so is just really lit.
The analysis of DOTA2 made me realise that there were more to the game than just destroying the opponents’ “Ancient”. It seemed like DOTA2 might have always been a fun game due to the existence of these lenses and from the transition of DOTA to DOTA2, the effects of these lenses have been amplified greatly with the introduction of more new items, heroes etc which seems to explain the wide migration of players from DOTA to DOTA2 and insinuate that DOTA2 might have improved overall as a MOBA game.