I played an embarrassing amount of League of Legends during my winter holiday break. Every morning I would wake up and team up with my two kids (and their friends, if friends slept over) until muuuuuuch later in the morning when my wife Sarah eventually awoke. Then Sarah and the family would play a game. Then, in the afternoon or evening, we all might play some more. I also had a couple of practice sessions with my Riot Rumble teammates, the Golden Ganks. As far as I can tell, I played around 4-5 hours a day for eighteen days straight. So yeah… a metric ton of League the past three weeks.
(I also went outside and did nature hikes with the kids most days. We did see the sun. And other people. We did. You know, eventually)
As a result, on Friday, January 2nd around 3pm, I hit Level 30. It happened months earlier than I anticipated and was actually a bit of a surprise.
Even more surprising is what happened. Or, rather, didn’t happen. I expected some pomp and circumstance. I expected something cool, like a video or new badge or an animated poro dancing around. After all, the day before I got a big “CONGRATULATIONS!” for earning the Assassin badge in Team Builder. All I had to do for that was play five games calling myself an Assassin. What could reaching the top of the mountain possibly be like? I’d never seen a co-worker hit 30 live, so I didn’t know what exciting delights might await me.
[SPOILER ALERT!] For all of you people striving for Level 30 and wondering what sort of parade occurs, I am going to let you in on a little secret. Come here. Closer. Closer. Okay, I’m going to whisper…
What happens is…
Honestly, maybe there was a little tiny banner that said “Congratulations” and then disappeared faster than I could register its existence. I don’t think so, though. I did receive a small pop-up in the corner telling me how to form a Ranked Team to compete, and… and…
And, well, nothing.
Even speeding my way to 30 via an intensive family game-cation and hitting my goal surprisingly soon, I felt a wee bit deflated. Where was my dancing poro!?
On Monday of this week, I was back in the office and I just so happened to have coffee with one of the leaders in Riot’s Production team, Thomas. Upon hearing me express my disappointment, Thomas smiled broadly and nodded. “Yep,” he said, “We aren’t very good at celebrating in League. Our thought is that we don’t want to build a lot of extrinsic motivation for you to keep playing. The game should be fun enough that it’s intrinsically motivating.” I must have scowled because he added, “We maybe should do more, though.” Coming from Thomas—one of the brightest guys in this industry—that last bit was actually pretty mollifying.
Okay, fair enough. Time to put on some perspectacles, as we say in my household. Level 30 clearly isn’t the end-all be-all of existence in League. Quite the contrary, it’s more of a beginning than a destination. And maybe getting access to ranked games (whatever those are like… stay tuned) is enough motivation on its own. I’m happy to have found Fizz, and especially to have had so many hours of fun with my family. None of the other levels involved celebration, so it’s not like the game promised me anything. In my first few months I had seen parties literally thrown for people at Riot when they reached Level 30, always with lots of fist-bumping (our way in Riot of saying pretty much anything positive about anything). So I think I’d gotten a skewed view of 30, like it was some sort of Promised Land or invitation-only club for the cool kids. Clearly not.
Thomas is right. Will I stop playing now that I’ve hit 30? Heck no. Thirty levels in and I am totally hooked on this game. My whole family is. Over the break my son hit level 26, my daughter 20, and my wife 13 (remember, she spent most of our game-time sleeping in). Eventually, we may be able to field an actual Moldenhauer-Salazar ranked team, maybe with a friend or Rioter thrown into our fifth spot. Now THAT is something to celebrate, if and when it happens. As for now, in most ways I’m still a noob with lots to learn. And since learning seems to be my primary motivator in life, League of Legends is likely a game I’ll be playing for a long, long time to come.
Speaking of which, we are officially two weeks from the Riot Rumble. I just received the schedule and team listing. It looks like about twenty teams will be competing in the Golden Ganks’ bracket, and Week 1 begins on January 20th. Amazingly, the Rumble extends all the way to the Finals in mid-April. That’s three months of competition for those counting at home. Whoah. I am going to learn a lot about how well (or not) my family games have prepared me for taking on fellow Rioters. Somehow, as I’ve said before, I think I’m doomed.
If I’m wrong, though… If our team of old guys somehow manages to not suck… I want me some pomp and I want me some circumstance, dangit.