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League of Legends And Why It's So Addicting

A blog post discussing what makes League of Legends such an addicting game. I couldn't figure out how to attach an image to the post, if you wish to add an image to it feel free to do so.

John Nashed, Blogger

April 30, 2018

5 Min Read


League of Legends has an enormous following. It’s consistently been in the Top 5 of the Most Watched Games on Twitch on a monthly basis. But what makes League so damn addicting?

The first aspect of League that makes it addicting is competition.


The nature of competition is a fantastic catalyst for entertainment. Any narrative in the world requires some form of antagonist. Even a simple rivalry between teams spices up your average NHL or NFL moment.

League of Legends fosters an atmosphere of competition, not only in its professional scene but by putting players in direct competition with each other.

For the moment, forget about Ranked, we’re talking just the act of playing League of Legends. There is an inherent risk/reward system employed in every game of League you play because League is a ‘free’ game (yes, I have spent too much money on epic skins so free is in quotes). This means that every little bit of in-game currency, Blue Essence, matters for new players. It means that, subconsciously, you care more about the game because you need to win to get the most essence possible. Even if you’re sitting on a pile of essence like some kind of dragon, hoarding a treasure trove, your brain still doesn’t like taking the less optimal option, i.e. losing.

Now let’s throw teams into the mix, and we see how League caters to another demographic, attempting to be as addicting as possible to the widest possible range of customers. Cheering for your favorite NA team to beat out those EU bastards at Rift Rivals; wondering if this is the year NA gets something done internationally; reacting with the rest of the world when an underdog comes out swinging (looking at you Albus Nox Luna); eSports contributes an amazing new level of interaction and investment, and it’s only going to get more impactful.

Watching Twitch streamers and YouTubers for content is part of Leagues success story, but the immense following that eSports engenders will be paying Riot dividends for years to come.

“But wait,” you say “I don’t give a toss about the professional scene. I just like playing with my friends.”

Which is fair, some people don’t follow eSports. Whether you like it or not, however, your game is impacted by the professional scene. Champion tweaks and general gameplay changes are made by looking at the top-ranked players. Sometimes what is OP at your ELO is perfectly balanced for what’s played on the big stage.

However, that leads to the second facet that makes League of Legends truly addicting.

Finding Fun Builds

A friend of mine has been playing AP Rakan for weeks; he won’t shut up about how he was doing it before Perkz. Finding something that gives you an edge, that makes you a one-shot god, is thrilling. I defy you to build Infinity Edge and Statik Shiv on Xin Zhao and not have a blast (assuming you’re even/ahead).

And that’s not even taking into consideration one of my favorite things about League: Cheese.

Rageblade Bard Top.

Full AP Shaco Support.

Tank Veigar (Support or Top).

Attack Speed Nautilus.

Those are just some of the builds I’ve had with friends in recent games; and as long as you’re in a five-man, it’s hysterical.

NOTE: Do not cheese when you’re not in direct coms with your team. They will hate you, even if you win.

Every time I get a little bored with the same old same old, looking up a ridiculous build and getting a group of friends together makes for an amazing 40 minutes. The catharsis you feel after a losing streak of just going in to have some fun is indescribable.

An often under-appreciated aspect of video games and their impact on our lives is new-ness. It is why many free-to-play games fail after a few months. Seeing the same thing, regardless of whether you paid for it or not, bores us, and we move on to something new and interesting. Stagnation has killed many Triple-A games, if the developers don’t stay with the project, and keep it updated. So it helps the game stay more memorable when you build something completely against meta, just because you can.

You’re not in that fight alone though, and that leads us to the third thing that makes League of Legends incredibly addicting, the psychology of the developers.

League of Legends is built around keeping players coming back. As a free-to-play game, Riot’s business relies on their ability to entice players into getting invested.

They do this in a myriad of ways: from having themes throughout the year, to constantly making new champions (and updating old champions), to incentivize players in Ranked (a friend new to League seriously considered buying an account from some site called https://www.sneakysmurfs.com just to start his career with Victorious Graves).

Even the way they designed their game plays into rewarding players for sticking with their product.

Little Victories

The psychology of video games is a fascinating subject; I won’t get into it in this article, but something as simple as our avatars can have an immense impact on the way we play video games. In regards to League, part of the reason we keep coming back is because all of the annoyances, the rage, tilt, and salt, losing; it is all offset by the little victories we get each game.

Working towards an item, finally shutting down that crazy fed ADC, securing dragon or Baron. Even getting a CS advantage, makes your brain happy, and keeps you looking forward to the next game, even if you’re on a losing streak.

It’s kind of sinister if you examine it too long.

These three aspects are a huge League of Legends and account for the games staying power in the pop-culture mindset.

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