Should these even be considered games at this point?

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#1 Posted by Dizzyhippos (4550 posts) -

So I have been playing Moba's since 2006, I started out with OG Dota moved to HoN for a while switched back to Dota 2 when the beta started, spent a little over a year playing LoL before moving back to Dota 2, and during that time every time I am asked to explain what it is I find myself saying something along the lines of "its a mix of hockey, chess, and football all played much faster". Yes I get that look you have on your face right now every time I say it as well.

I try to avoid saying something like "Oh its like an RTS but you only get 1 character to control" because saying its like an RTS puts some assumptions in your mind that are 99% false. And while by the dictionary definition of a "game" yes Dota and LoL are games, so is football and people dont consider it a game they consider it a sport.

When you dig into the deep strategy of ether of them (or Meta if your being a Moba snob), I think the comparison to something like football or hockey is a much more accurate assessment of what a Moba is, at any given time there are hundreds of things going on and you may not be able to keep track of them (again nearly 9 years of playing them and I still miss things), but much like football or hockey your not thinking about why that guy getting blown up happened and how it was set up by the play that preceded it, your just marveling in the moment of "MAN THAT GUY GOT FUCKED UP".

This isn't meant as an argument that "esports are real sports" or anything like that, I just have spent a lot of time thinking about this and wanted to get other peoples opinions on the subject. Calling them games and lumping them in with what the traditional concept of a game is just seems a little dismissive to me.

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#2 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3766 posts) -

You know the Olympics is full of games right? Hell, they're even called the Summer and Winter Games.

You're sounding a bit like a snob though, no offence meant. A game can be played for contest reasons but it is still a game. The guys playing in the World Cup right now are playing a game of football, just at a competitive level. It's still a game.

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#3 Posted by StarvingGamer (11517 posts) -

This isn't meant as an argument that "esports are real sports" or anything like that, I just have spent a lot of time thinking about this and wanted to get other peoples opinions on the subject. Calling them games and lumping them in with what the traditional concept of a game is just seems a little dismissive to me.

That seems more to do with your personal baggage over the perceived limitations of the term "game".

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#4 Edited by Dizzyhippos (4550 posts) -

@jesus_phish: I dont mean to sound like a snob, but most of the time when you think of a video game you know all there is to know about one specific entry of the series gameplay sometime around an hour in (unless its something like FFXIII but thats poor design not depth). Perhaps a better way to ask this question would be "should these be considered video games anymore". Even something as complex as a dark souls cant hold a candle to the depth of a proper Moba. And much like football or hockey the second you think you have your arms around the rules and how they all work and effect the way the games played, it changes.

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#5 Posted by Vuud (2052 posts) -

I would say no but for different reasons. MOBA's are recreational in the same way heroin is.

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#6 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3766 posts) -

@dizzyhippos: But it's still a game. It has a lot of depth, but so do collectable card games. So does Pokemon on the Gameboy when you play it at tournament levels. Street Fighter et al. These are all games. MOBAs are still games which can be played for simple enjoyment just like any other game like hockey and football.

Game isn't a derogatory term or something to describe something "easy" or with "lack of depth".

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#7 Posted by StarvingGamer (11517 posts) -

Even something as complex as a dark souls cant hold a candle to the depth of a proper Moba.

That has nothing to do with mechanical design and everything to do with implementation. You could take the core mechanical design of Dark Souls, somehow jam it into a 5v5 competitive game, and come out the other end with someone just as complex as DotA or LoL. It's like comparing cricket to golf. You can learn everything you need to know to play a game of golf in about a minute. Cricket would take significantly longer, and even then the dynamics of each match changes depending on what team you're playing against. But they're still both sports.

Oddly enough this is the "Should Gone Home be considered a game?" argument flipped around. Calling something a "game" (in this case short for "video game") has nothing to do with anything outside of whether or not it is an interactive, digital experience.

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#8 Posted by MindBullet (701 posts) -

I don't think complexity or intricacy elevates a video game beyond being a video game. It's still a game (game) that you happen to play electronically. It sounds like despite saying you aren't arguing that e-sports should be considered 'real sports' that's exactly what you're doing, whether you mean to or not. Not even going into the whole 'what is e-sports' thing, I'd still consider a 'sport' a game so an 'e-sport' would just be an electronic game.

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#9 Posted by VipeR (197 posts) -

I'm not really sure what your argument is for a MOBA not being a game, it doesn't comes across in your post for me, maybe I'm bad at reading I don't know.

If you are saying it is because they are complex, then where do you draw the line? Dwarf fortress is a very complex game, would you consider that not-a-game? Is it because it is based on competative gameplay? There's tons of competative games out there. Are you saying that MOBAs are more sports? Because a sport can be a video game aswell, the two are not mutually exclusive (NHL series, Madden etc.)

Video games are a very broad definition, and to me MOBAs are part of that definition. Nothing I've seen from any MOBA so far has convinced me otherwise.

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#10 Edited by thomasnash (1106 posts) -

Sports aren't called sports because of some element of strategy or competitiveness; the dictionary definition specifies physical exertion. I wouldn't normally get all prescriptive like that but I think it's a definition that holds true for common usage as well. All sports are games, but not all games are sports, basically.

With that said, I think there are more specialised uses of the word which don't follow this rule, chess for example is a recognised "Olympic Sport." I don't know how to resolve this linguistically in terms of how to define sport, but I think it might suffice to say that in that case the "Olympic" part is probably a more important form of legitimating recognition than the "Sport" part.

(Edit: Also what @starvinggamer said about game being short for video game. Similar point from the other direction, I suppose!)

So basically don't worry about it?

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#11 Edited by AndrewB (7816 posts) -

Football is a game and a sport. I think that line of thinking can probably stop there.

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#12 Posted by TheVGamer (142 posts) -

@vuud: Brad could literally just stop playing DOTA. He could, he really, really could... if he wanted to.

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#13 Edited by JasonR86 (10232 posts) -

It's more a way of life really.

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#14 Edited by Icemael (6876 posts) -

Fighting games are a mix of MMA, Go and gymnastics played much faster. Even something as complex as Devil May Cry 4 can't hold a candle to the sophistication of a proper fighter, so doesn't it seem a little dismissive to just call them "games"?

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#15 Edited by BeachThunder (15114 posts) -

MOBAs aren't games, they're just walking simulators...wait...

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#16 Posted by JJWeatherman (15096 posts) -

Mobas are, like, all about the moves you don't make, man.

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#17 Edited by Brodehouse (10812 posts) -

@thomasnash said:

Sports aren't called sports because of some element of strategy or competitiveness; the dictionary definition specifies physical exertion.

But physical exertion itself is not sport, so sport cannot be physical exertion. Physical exertion could be exercise, it could be pure conflict. Sport is competition for the sake of competition. No matter what level of physical exertion or athleticism required, if you are competing for the sake of competition (as opposed to conflict, which is competing for survival), you are engaging in sport. This is why people can insult people 'in good sport'. Because sport and sportsmanship has more to do with competitive spirit and fair play than it does athleticism or physical exertion.

To the OP's question if MOBAs are video games; do you give it digital input and receive feedback in working towards an objective? That's a video game.

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#18 Posted by Veektarius (6407 posts) -

Football is a game and MOBAs are terrible.

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#19 Posted by thomasnash (1106 posts) -

@thomasnash said:

Sports aren't called sports because of some element of strategy or competitiveness; the dictionary definition specifies physical exertion.

But physical exertion itself is not sport, so sport cannot be physical exertion. Physical exertion could be exercise, it could be pure conflict. Sport is competition for the sake of competition. No matter what level of physical exertion or athleticism required, if you are competing for the sake of competition (as opposed to conflict, which is competing for survival), you are engaging in sport. This is why people can insult people 'in good sport'. Because sport and sportsmanship has more to do with competitive spirit and fair play than it does athleticism or physical exertion.

To clarify quickly, when I say that the dictionary definition specifies physical exertion, I didn't mean that it is the only condition. The definition in full is as follows:

"An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment" (OED)

So I think what I'm saying and what you're saying are compatible - I just left out the stuff about "competition" and "entertainment" largely because I felt that they carried over between Soccer and Dota - the element of physical exertion, if we go by the dictionary definition, is the distinguishing factor between a "sport" and a competitive game. As I said, I only really stuck with this because I think that definition would hold in common usage.

Further examination of my printed OED probably bears you out more than me, though. The above definition is from the Early 16th Century, whereas this definition from Late Middle English rather stamps on my point:

"Diversion, entertainment, fun [this is probably whither the phrase "in good sport"]; an activity providing this, a pastime."

The reason from the change, I would guess, is that in the intervening centuries spectator sports became more prevalent, and technology only really allowed for large, physical contests to be spectated. So where Backgammon might once have been described as a sport, its deficiencies as a watchable activity led to it being considered a game where soccer was a sport that could be spectated. In that case there probably isn't any reason not to call any game a sport as technology now allows us to spectate almost any activity.

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#20 Posted by audioBusting (2558 posts) -

@dizzyhippos said:

yes Dota and LoL are games, so is football and people dont consider it a game they consider it a sport.

Is that even true? I mean, I think many people would agree that any football is a "ball game".

And I don't really understand the implication that a video game cannot be as deep or complex as sports, but whatever.

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#21 Posted by fattony12000 (8514 posts) -

You know a game of football is a sport, right?

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#22 Posted by EXTomar (5047 posts) -

I can't believe the "Are hamburgers sandwiches?" question is more interesting than this.

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#23 Posted by Brodehouse (10812 posts) -

The reason from the change, I would guess, is that in the intervening centuries spectator sports became more prevalent, and technology only really allowed for large, physical contests to be spectated. So where Backgammon might once have been described as a sport, its deficiencies as a watchable activity led to it being considered a game where soccer was a sport that could be spectated. In that case there probably isn't any reason not to call any game a sport as technology now allows us to spectate almost any activity.

I absolutely agree that the concept of spectator sports is vastly coloring people's definition of 'sport'. I can't cite any linking logic or principle to this, but for me sport is competition for the sake of competition, it's a difficult concept to describe outside of 'competitive spirit' or 'sport'. A game is a rules set with an objective in which people can engage in. There is a game where you throw balls through hoops for different point values, with a time limit. You might engage in this game for sport.

I still hold Dota and chess and spelling bees as sports. There's no reason to be more critical of the game they play at The International than the game being played at the World Series.

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#24 Posted by GiantLizardKing (1144 posts) -

The obvious answer to you question is "yes". Game doesn't imply lack of complexity. Mobas are just games where a lot of mastery can be acquired at the meta level. If mobas aren't games on account of complexity and the fact that they are played competitively then most fighting aren't games either. Racing games aren't games either for that matter. Or anything you can speed run probably. You can probably keep doing this forever until the only game that's left is the Sherlock Holmes FMV game.

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#25 Posted by Hitzel (127 posts) -

Singling out MOBA's as the one genre to labeled as "deeper" than all of the other genres is absurd.

There are plenty of other genres with as much "depth" or "competitive merit" or whatever you want to call it. It's my personal opinion that MOBA's are boring because they lack the flavors of depth that I adore in other genres, but I'm not making threads stating that MOBA's shouldn't be called eSports.

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#26 Posted by Morningstar (2460 posts) -

The only Moba I enjoy these days is Smite. Doesn't really answer your question, but there you go =)

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#27 Posted by joshwent (2897 posts) -

@hitzel said:

Singling out MOBA's as the one genre to labeled as "deeper" than all of the other genres is absurd.

Yup. Maybe the OP can pick up his nonsensical pretentiousness with some clever word replacement:

"This isn't meant as an argument that "TOOL is the greatest music group that will ever exist" or anything like that, I just have spent a lot of time thinking about this and wanted to get other peoples opinions on the subject. Calling TOOL "music" and lumping them in with what the traditional concept of a "band" is just seems a little dismissive to me."

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#28 Posted by ripelivejam (13101 posts) -

GONE HOME: THE MOBA

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#29 Posted by EXTomar (5047 posts) -

GONE HOME: THE MOBA

Zone out the enemy while I rifle through my old stuff in the attic!

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#30 Edited by Ares42 (4263 posts) -

The reason the RTS comparison is bad is because they aren't RTSs. They might've spawned from that genre, but in actuality what they are is online action-RPGs. Take Diablo, make it multiplayer, make it team based, and you practically have a MOBA. It's a game, just like any other online multiplayer game. And just like any other multiplayer game it gets super deep as people keep playing them for years.

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#31 Edited by alwaysbebombing (2691 posts) -

ummmmm....

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#32 Edited by Immortal_Guy (203 posts) -

Remember that chess and draughts are both board games - it doesn't matter that one is much simpler than the other.

Also, "Lumping" MOBAS in with the "traditional concept of games" is only a problem for people who aren't into videogames, and don't realise how broad the category is. Something like Persona 4 has very little to do with something like Forza Motorsport 4, but they're both games - it's just that "videogames" are a really broad category of thing.

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#33 Posted by Wolfgame (1168 posts) -

Can the classification change simply based on perception? Your perception of a deep experience being exclusive to MOBAs may not mean that is reality.

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#34 Posted by Fallen189 (5453 posts) -

No they're vegetables.

Of course they're fucking videogames. Stop trying to be clever over semantifcs.

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#35 Posted by HerbieBug (4228 posts) -

MOBAs are games. All video games are games. eSports is a misnomer.

Sport, as a concept, is based specifically on athletic competition. I maintain a tighter definition of that than most, i think. I consider things like archery, target shooting, bowling, etc. to be games rather than sport as well.

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#36 Edited by erhard (493 posts) -

I can't tell if you're being serious.

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#37 Posted by Gamer_152 (14735 posts) -

I mean the definition of the word "game" can vary a lot, but I'm really not seeing much argument for the idea that MOBAs are not games. You're even describing them as being a combination of three different games while simultaneously arguing that they may not be games. You state that people think of football as a "sport" instead of a game, but most sports are recognisable as games.

Sure, when you say "video game" a MOBA might not be the first thing that comes to a person's mind, but just because something doesn't resemble a typical example of that thing that doesn't mean it does not meet the definition of it. When you ask someone what to think of "a mammal", their first thought is probably not "dolphins", but dolphins are still mammals. In general things are not defined by public perception of them. 99% of the time even if the public has huge misconceptions about things that doesn't affect what categorisations or definitions those things fall into. I also don't believe that MOBAs are miles and miles deeper than any other kind of game out there, but either way I've never seen a definition of the word "game" that required the activity to be a relatively simple one.

MOBAs have win and loss states, metrics of success, allow player agency, give player feedback, include resource management, are participated in voluntarily for fun, and they have resources, objectives, and a limiting context. I'd say they're pretty firmly games. Really, the thing that bothers me most is your implication that it's dismissive to call them games, as though games can't involve any thinking too intelligent, or any degree of serious depth, or anything too dynamic, and that things like DOTA are some sort of elite exception so far above everything else that they transcend the medium. I don't think that's true and I don't think that's how definition works.

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#38 Posted by kcin (1001 posts) -

I wonder if MOBAs would be considered more richly complex experiences than other mere games by their players if they had fewer characters, since that appears to be where most of the complexity comes from.

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#39 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (3013 posts) -

As someone that recently had a hell of a hard time trying to explain "what kind of game" League of Legends is to my mom, I can certainly understand that explaining MOBAs in comparison to other video games is very difficult.

However, give me a fucking break, they're video games.

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#40 Posted by WSGEXE (139 posts) -

Don't worry, nobody considers them real games already.

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#41 Posted by hustlerlt (365 posts) -

Please, for the love of god, never compare a video game to an actual sport. eSports, sure, not actual sports. Anything that involves you just sitting in front of your computer and clicking the mouse over and over can never be considered a sport. That's why I hate that chess is considered a sport.

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