Mobaphobia: My Fear of Battleborn and Paragon
There has never been a genre of games that has caused me to have a negative reaction towards just the mention of its name like the “MOBA” has. The “multiplayer online battle arena” is a genre of video game characterized by team-based strategic gameplay and character roles. I honestly couldn’t tell you much more about the genre than that every time I try to play a MOBA, I leave the game feeling disgusting. Not disgusted, disgusting. I have played MOBAs in the past and have tried to give them another go with the release of recent open betas but my attempts to understand and enjoy the genre were to no avail.
A few years ago I played League of Legends for the first time. I played 4 matches before I realized that it wasn’t for me. I’m a very self-conscious person so the verbal abuse and degrading from the other players was too much for me to handle, and that was only from my teammates. I don’t blame them. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I consider myself to be a very competent gamer but no amount of preparation could prepare me to be placed into a match of LoL. To the other players, I looked like blind man with two left feet and one of those feet were being used to play a game of LoL. It wasn’t pretty.
My issue with MOBAs go beyond the genre being confusing to me. Dota 2 and League of Legends are both very profitable games and so they must be doing at least something right. I must be the one who’s wrong for not enjoying them. I dismissed my disliking of LoL to be attributed by my disliking of PC gaming in general. This is why I was excited during the announcement of Paragon, a MOBA for the PlayStation. Upon its reveal, Paragon looked amazing. Guns? Cool looking characters that resonate with me? An interesting setting? AND it’s on PlayStation? Sold.
Within the last two weeks, I have tried the open betas for both Paragon and Battleborn, two brand new MOBA-esque releases for consoles. Both received the same reaction from me upon my first match of both, utter disgust. I didn’t just dislike the experience, I was offended by it.
“Why is the UI so oppressive? Why is the text so small? How do I upgrade and how often should I do it? Which upgrade would be the most beneficial? Why does this game look and feel so empty and cheap? Why are my guns shooting so slowly? Is everything a bullet sponge?“
These questions were only the beginning as I was getting more and more put off by the experience as matches continued. I fear that my days of trying to get into MOBAs are finished. Even as a first person shooter (Battleborn) or a third person game with a down to earth view (Paragon), I couldn’t handle what MOBAs had in store. It could be a case of the genre being too hardcore of a genre for me. It could be a case of me playing all of the wrong games. It could be the case of me not giving the genre enough of a chance. It could be a case of me just having a different taste. All I know is that there is something about the inherent design of MOBAs that not only make the genre not enjoyable for me, but actively pushes me away. This is not at all to disparage MOBAs. There are millions of people who play them and if you haven’t, you should try them out. However, there is work to be done in the genre if developers want to bring people like me, people who can’t get acclimated into the genre, into the fold.
This piece was written by Blessing Adeoye. You can find Blessing on the internet either getting into dance battles or analyzing game culture for the purpose of making the world a better place at @blessingjr on the Twittersphere.