The Gaming Geezer

We’re a stone’s throw from the holidays, which means I’m spending a lot of time online shopping, attending parties, and watching American football. At Riot Games, we’re wrapping up our year-end compensation process and I’m frantically interviewing as many candidates as possible before everyone takes a break. It’s a fun time of year, and an incredibly busy one.

Amidst this hustle-bustle is also preparation for the Riot Rumble in January. What’s Riot Rumble, you ask? Basically, the whole company breaks into League of Legends teams which compete in a company-wide tournament. I’d tell you how it works and how long it runs except that I really don’t fully understand it yet. All I know is that everyone is talking about the Rumble, forming teams, and doing some light trash-talking.

Bob (“Riot Bob” in LoL) on the Learning & Development team at Riot had the idea that we should form an “old guys” team. We grabbed Brian, Eric, Jerry, Todd, and Jim (Rumble teams are 6-7 people plus a coach) and voila! Team formed. I feel lucky—especially given the e-mail traffic from so many folks scrambling to form or join a Rumble team last-minute—that the process for my first Rumble was painless.

Our team practices will start soon. Right now we’re discussing our team name. It’s either going to be “The Golden Ganks” or “The Riot Geezers” unless a flash of inspiration strikes one of us. Regardless, our mascot is definitely those two guys from the Muppets.

 

Wait… When Did I Get Old?

In all honesty, I don’t consider myself an old guy. I’m forty-one, with two kids who aren’t yet in high school. Sure, I have a salt-and-pepper goatee and sideburns, but they’re way more pepper than salt. I still read comic books avidly and play both role-playing and video games. My favorite movie of this past year was “Big Hero 6.” I feel pretty darned young at heart.

At heart, sure. But at Riot Games, I’m a definite old guy. It was surprisingly easy to figure out who we should ask to join our over-forty team because the population of over-forties is… not huge. I’m surrounded at work by the young at heart and the young of body. It’s a vibrant, hungry workforce who for the most part are still early in their careers (which poses all sorts of fun challenges for the Talent team, but that’s another topic for another day).

So, the big question: Am I ever going to be elite at League of Legends? Is it simply a young-person’s game and I’m doomed to never dedicate the time necessary to be competitive?

(okay, okay… that’s two questions)

I think the reality is that I simply can’t log the hours to be a Diamond or Platinum-level player. Luckily, that’s not currently my goal. As ill-defined as it is, my League goal right now is to feel competent and to not embarrass myself when asked to play. I have a gamer identity, and with it is a degree of pride that I won’t suck at a cool game I like. What that translates to in terms of my eventual rank (or even if I end up liking ranked games) remains to be seen.

I’m slowly getting there. I hit level 24 this weekend thanks to loads of Summoner’s Rift, ARAM, and Dominion with my son Jonah. I used to avoid ARAM because I was too scared to be given a Champion I didn’t know. Now I can pretty much play anyone (and thanks to working at Riot, I have a broad access to Champions) and figure them out at a basic level throughout the game. That’s progress.

Though my confidence is growing, I’m pretty sure that our old-guy team is doomed in the Rumble. Bob and I played for the first time together this weekend (me with Darius top lane, him with Master Yi jungling) and our team got utterly smoked. So let’s all set our expectations low, shall we? I’m treating January as a good learning experience and baseline measurement of where I am on the “competence vs. embarrassment” scale. Time will tell how the geezers do against these uppity whippersnappers, but I’d bet on the young ‘uns.

 

Update on the Champion Quest

Many thanks to those who read last week’s installment and suggested Champions for me to play. Since then, I’ve tried the updated Zac, Kayle, Nautilus, Nidalee, and Vi. My conclusion is that although I really like Zac aesthetically, I don’t really “get” him in game. Kayle and Nautilus are cool, but didn’t click with me either for various reasons. I loved Nidalee, but wow is she complicated to play well so I’m putting her in my back pocket as someone to keep learning in the coming months.

Vi, on the other hand, shows real promise as my new main. She’s got a hero aesthetic. And although she’s not really mutant-y in an X-Men way, she could easily be in comic books. Heck her Neon Strike Vi skin is pretty much everything a spandex-loving-comics-reader could hope for. Not only that, but after a handful of games I was starting to figure out how to use Excessive Force to blast minion waves and hit ranged Champions, when to use Vault Breaker to chase down or dash away, and how really cool her ultimate is.

Vi might be my gal. In the next couple weeks I’m going to dedicate time to her and decide whether it’s her or Darius for me top-lane in the Rumble. In the meantime, I’ll sprinkle in some experimentation with Nidalee and other Champions I’ve been admiring from the sidelines.

 

…You know, if I don’t die of old age before then. Sheesh.

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