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Entering into the World of Dota: Defense of the Ancients

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Aakib Ahmed Saad

Dr. Pocklington

English 1301-060

28 September 2015

Entering into the World of DotA: “Defense of the Ancients”

A discourse community is a group of people who share a particular interest and use a certain tone of language to communicate with each other. Joining a discourse community is something we've all experienced, whether it's a specific sports team, band, or even a classroom. Within the first few weeks of being in ENGL 1301, we've discussed discourse communities and the importance of rhetorical skills as means of persuasion to make the audience, in this case you, my instructor and my classmates believe that I have successfully established myself as a part of a discourse community. In this paper, I will show how I entered the huge discourse community of DotA, an online strategy game. And how it shaped my mentality to help understand the world around me better and to be a more refined person in general which would not only help me with my life ahead but would help me join further discourse communities.

On a Friday evening in the winter of 2013, I remember being in my cousin’s messy room, him sitting at his computer with his headphones on and his eyes fixed onto the screen like a predator eyeing its prey.  I was browsing through his book shelf when a howling scream broke the silence in the room and compelled me to turn my attention towards it. He was furiously clicking the mouse and punching the keys away with unwavering determination. Nonetheless, I was intrigued to see his emotional connection with the game and I wanted to experience the same. That’s how I was introduced to DotA. It was an uninformed decision of a budding gamer, but little did I know that choosing to be a part of this community would be a lifelong venture.

First and foremost I had to master the fundamentals of the game. For those of you who have no idea what DotA is, it is best explained as a mixture of chess and soccer. Each team has five members who are randomly matched by an online server. It’s like a bunch of strangers meeting at a field and randomly forming teams. They fight each other in a virtual arena. The aim like and unlike chess is to make strategies and destroy the main enemy building known as “ The Ancient” thus the name defense of the ancient. Each player chooses a character from over a hundred options known as heroes. Each hero has special abilities. They start off weak but as the game progresses they become stronger and the game becomes more intense. The heroes arm themselves with items special to hero types and situation. I have been playing this game for 700 hundred hours now, each game lasting about forty minutes, each game has been a learning experience for me. As you can see the game is quite complicated with the permutations and combinations of heroes, items, situations and strategies it took me a while to learn the game and as logos implies; practice is key. As a newcomer, I was often humiliated for my mistakes. People become a little too zealous and often forget that DotA is just a game. Some players tend to be hard on the ones who can’t perform on their level of expertise. I felt inferior in these times but I taught myself to be persistent and to go through with what I started. Insults made me feel insecure and never helped me improve, what improved me were people who respected me and coached me. As these players connect via internet with usernames, I have met many people who have played with me and coached me to be a better gamer without knowing their real names. Many a time it has happened that through leadership, one member of the team has guided the whole team to victory. They taught me that giving respect is the way to sway people into listening to you and to respect you and to channel my anger into positivity and constructive criticism for better productivity.

Millions of people join a server to play these game and as I mentioned I don’t know these people. But to win games I had to communicate with them to build strategies which is crucial. The lessons of teamwork and communication is inherent to this game. Every game I won would be an example of me successfully mastering these techniques and I have a 2:1 win to loss ratio further proving my point. Also keep in mind that I never knew these people so I had to know the terms commonly used by players in the game to successfully communicate. For example “gank mid” means to attack the enemy hero in the middle, or “stun him” meant to use a special ability on the enemy to disable him. Once I chose a hero called “Blood seeker” while playing a game with my cousins. His special ability is called “Rupture” which, when cast on any enemy hero, movement in any direction by that hero would cause significant damage.  There happens to be an item called “Forced Staff” that is used to cast a spell on a hero to make it move a specific distance in the direction it is facing.  People tend to stand still when hit by “Rupture” so that they don’t incur damage, but I discovered that if I use “Forced Staff” on any such enemy hero, they will incur at least some damage even if they don’t want to. This new strategy awed my cousin and his friends. They saw my dedication and asked me to join their team. . Being a part of this small discourse community, still a part of the whole DoTA community, I played as part of their team for a few months. The rest of my teammates were much better than I was, having a lot more gaming experience. Like soccer, DotA has specific positions for players to choose from. In this case, Supports and Carries. I was assigned as one of the two supports of my team. Carries are stronger heroes who are initially weak, they need the help of the supports to grow stronger and ultimately carry the game to victory, thus the name carry. They are like forwards in soccer and supports are like defenders they help the carries in fights keeps them and the ally units from harm. We participated in a few local tournaments in our city back in my home country, Bangladesh. And in one of them we made it to the semi-finals and won the “Best Newcomer Award”. Hopefully this answered the ones who were skeptical about my credibility as a decent DotA player.

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