Ok the last few days I have been talking several times about this game called DOTA. So forgive me today as this blog is going to be entirely about this game DOTA and how it had a major influence on my life.
The last few days has been a very important time for DOTA (right now its called DOTA 2). It is because there was a tournament happening for the game and its called The International, this was the 8th year and so its called TI 8 for short.
The arena where the DOTA tournament happened.
The prize pool for the whole tournament is more than $25,000,000. Yes thats right i didn’t miss any 0’s. The winner of the whole tournament gets more than $11,000,000 and it is split between the 5 players and maybe a bit with the staff as well. So each player in the winning team gets around $2,000,000 for this tournament which lasts for just about a week. The grand finals was happening in Vancouver Canada this year and there were more than a 5 million people watching the best of 5 games. It was an exciting tournament to watch and I was supporting this team called OG and as you would have it OG won the tournament.
Guys, proceed with caution, as this blog has a lot to do with video games.
Its the year 2001 and I just finished my 12th standard exams and i think i have around 5-6 months of free time and during this time i find out about a game called Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, which was made by Blizzard, the same guys who made Diablo II on which i had already spent countless hours to complete as well. These games were fascinating to me and i could play them for hours on an end and also loved watching the excellent movies they made after i completed certain levels like this one for Diablo II and these for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, this one and many more. Man these cut scenes are spine tingling, just look at those graphics, they are nearly 20 years old. I loved these two games. I finished both these games and I was then sent of to do my Engineering studies in India. Fast forward to the year 2005, I barely completed my engineering degree and I hear that there is a game called DOTA (Defence Of The Ancients) which is similar to the warcraft game I was playing. DOTA came to the Indian LAN cafes around 2005. I was lucky that i finished my engineering by this time because if i had found out about DOTA earlier I would still be doing my engineering degree to this day :).
So I used to play the game for a bit but as it was just the start and I was still only learning how to play the game, my skill level was not good enough and so I was not that interested in the game yet and I also had plenty of friends and so we did a lot of other things together. In the year 2006 I travel to the UK to do my masters degree and my oh my I barely complete that as well. And then luckily by the grace of God I even landed a job as an engineer. So then starts my work life but by the year 2009 I don’t have a lot of friends like I used to have during my engineering days and soon enough I get bored.
This then becomes my re-discovery and journey back into the game DOTA. I am so bored that I go to work come back home and there is nothing else to do so I installed DOTA and started playing against the computer bots and soon I learn more about the game and I am playing on a daily basis and so my skill level kept growing as well. Soon with the help of a friend I found out that there is an online community, so now I can play DOTA online with other people from around the world instead of playing against the boring Bots.
This was the loading screen of that original DOTA 1
Luckily that year 2009 to mid 2010 I did make friends and we did have fun but then when the friends left, I came back to square one. Rejin took up DOTA again but this time I took it up on a full time basis. I went full fledge. I started play the game online on a daily basis and I really mean every single day. I came back from work and before I do anything else the first thing I used to do was open the computer and start playing DOTA. I continue playing, all the way until around 11 pm and then I get up to eat something and sleep for a few hours and wake up next day, to go to the office and all I am thinking of is what kind of strategies I can use to improve my gaming skills, I even sign up to some forums to get more ideas about how to play better. I was constantly looking at strategies to become better at the game. I would spend any free time I had looking at DOTA forums during my work hours as well. This was a time when all I could think of was DOTA. Then Friday comes up and I am like lets go out and meet up some people but soon enough I get bored and by now I have gotten two other friends to play DOTA with me as well and I drag them also to play the game with me. We start playing the game on Friday from around 8 pm and we keep playing all the way to around 04:00 hrs in the morning. I then go home, take a nap and wake up by around 11:00 hrs and I then open the computer and start playing again all the way upto the evening around 19:00 hrs. I keep playing taking small breaks and here and there to eat and use the toilet but they are very quick because I don’t want to waste my DOTA playing time (I know what you are thinking), yes I was an addict. My character and me was one, it was like as if I was on the field making all that game play.
Why did I love playing the game?
I just loved the excitement that I used to get first thing in the morning before I opened the computer to another exciting day of playing DOTA. I used to have this raise in heart beat, body tingling and just overall very excited to wake up in the morning especially on the weekends. I used to get that same sense of tingling exciting feeling when I used to wake up to go to school during the sports days, where I could play sports all throughout the day. Later I learned that it was a massive injection of the neuro-transmitter called dopamine spreading into the body.
The thing is when I am playing the game I am totally focussed and in that State of Flow (that I discussed in the earlier blog 2) and I completely loose track of space and time. There are so many aspects of the Flow state (which I discussed in Blog 2) which are ticked of by this game. The game has
- A specific Goal to defeat the opposition
- Intense Competition
- My mind to be constantly working and there is no rest for the mind during the 40 – 60 mins of gameplay. I am just constantly made to focus only on the game.
- Instant feedback to what ever I do
- Growth opportunity (I need to keep improving my skills in order to overcome the challenges)
- Social aspect of being able to other people
I kept playing DOTA everyday for almost 2 years starting from late 2010 to December 27th 2012, I remember this day clearly because that was the day I quit playing the game and I haven’t had a relapse since then (I shall try and let you know how I quit playing the game in another blog). The reason I quit the game was because I saw how DOTA was affecting so many other areas of my life. I was getting better at playing the game but my health was suffering, my confidence levels when talking with people were suffering, I was being more and more of an anti-social person.
For a long time afterwards I thought the time I spent playing DOTA was a massive waste in life, but recently I have understood yes there is a lot of negatives to playing the game but there were positives as well as I learned a lot about how companies and games can get people addicted to certain things.
Well I have understood that I can use these same principles to get addicted to doing something useful, doing a process that brings value to the world.