Jon is our resident technical expert here at 9to5.cc. He is also an avid player of the online video game “League of Legends”, spending significant hours, um, competing (is that right?) at this every single week. He assures me that he is quite good at it. I have no idea what this game is, aside from the facts that it is played on a computer and it’s multi-player and online.

I sat with Jon for a few minutes to talk to him about the game, the experience, and the phenomenon that is “LoL”.

Jon, can you explain what exactly is League of Legends? 

Sure, in the simplest form it’s an online video game where 5 people compete against 5 people.  It is so much more than that though.

Compete how? It’s not really a sports game like Madden or NHL’12, right?

Well, that is an interesting comparison. LOL is generally a 5 player versus 5 player game, played on the same terrain over and over. This probably doesn’t seem that exciting to football fans, but really, why is the football field always the same?

Can you break it down for me? What is the goal, and how is it played? 

Well, in the simplest sense there are two bases and the goal is to destroy the other base. But this is like saying in hockey that there are two goals and the point is to put the puck in the other net.  That isn’t the game. 

So it’s like Halo, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike then?

Well, in the sense that people play against each other in a video game yes. But it is so much more.  I’m not a sports guy so this metaphor is going to fail, but I want to try. So imagine if in a game of hockey you could choose from every hockey player ever. Gretzky versus Bobby Orr, Howe versus Lemiuex. Every match you get to pick your players.  And you players get to influence how well their characters perform. It is a second level to performance that I do not think is actually represented in any professional sport in the world.

Tell me about a few of the characters you can choose from.

Well, this will seem very familiar to sports players. You can choose defense-men like Amumu, Singed or Rammus, or offence characters like Malzahar, Annie or Brand or you can choose hybrid characters like Irelia, Jarvan IV or Gragas. One of the parts of the game is that everyone gets to play the characters as best they can. Malzahar is one of the best mid characters, but anyone can choose him and then screw it up. Imagine if in any hockey game Gretzky could be played, but everyone knew that playing Ovechkin was an easy counter to Gretzky.  You’d never see Gretzky played.  That is kind of how the “lol”  metagame works.

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I still don’t really have any idea what the game is about, or how it is played. Jon went to sleep. Keith an I will be sitting down with Jon next week to talk to him, face to face about the game, and we’ll put the audio up as a podcast for you all, coming soon.

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