There has been a controversy for a while now to decide if video games are actually art. Recently more and more opinions have been feeling that video games ARE art. There are several things that goes into making video games and about them that could consider them art. Things such as collaboration to finish the design of the game continuously making progress to get one final project and the aesthetics factor of the game. I will be arguing that League of Legends is art because it uses progress as in patching every couple weeks changing the game just a little bit causing for players to react to it, the aesthetics of skins allowing you to make your character’s look different with some different animations, how it requires collaboration of designers working together to achieve a certain goal of improving the game more and how you must work together with your team to win the game.
What is League of Legends?
League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena, also known as moba, that was first started in 2006 and was later released by Riot Games on October 27,2009. When League of Legends was first released it was only available to those people that signed up to be a beta tester of the game. For being one of the few beta testers you were given a special icon to display that shows you were one of the fortunate ones to be a beta tester. The main objective of League of Legends is to work together with your team to destroy the enemy’s team nexus. The nexus is what spawns the minions. In order for you to get to that level of destroying the enemy team’s nexus you need to get stronger throughout the game to be able to destroy your opponent’s base. There are currently 136 champions that you are able to play with each one being very different from the rest. Each champion has certain abilities such as healing, shielding, and etc. For the beginning minutes of the game you are spent killing minions to get gold that ranges may vary depending on the minion killed. Another way of getting gold is by getting kills and assists. After you have sufficient amount of gold you are able to buy specific items that results in you getting stronger. Just because you are stronger doesn’t result in you automatically win, it certainly does help because you would be able to kill the opponents resulting in you being able to destroy their base. Initially, when League of Legends first started up there were 3 main maps you can choose to play from which are : Twisted Tree line, Dominion, and the most popular Summoner’s Rift. Later on Riot Games added the map of Howling Abyss and later retiring the map of Dominion. Each map has a different way on how the base is set up.
Maps as Art
With the 3 initial maps each one is very different from the others making it unique. In Twisted Treeline, it’s the only map that is a 3v3 or 3 against 3 map while the rest are 5v5. With Twisted Treeline being a 3v3 map it results in having a smaller map than the other possible maps. In Twisted Treeline there are 2 “lanes” that 2 of the 3 players usually go to with the last player being in the jungle which is the middle area of the map. The jungle spends their time killing monster camps and then tries to attempt the kill the enemy team’s laners to get their own team an advantage. The main differences that Twisted Treeline has from other maps is that it is a map designed for 3v3 and how it has a Vilemaw monster instead of the usual Baron Nashor on Summoner’s Rift.
Dominion Crystal Scar
Dominion is unique in the fact that it is the only map that you’re not trying to destroy the opponent’s base. In Dominion, each team starts off with 500 points and there are 5 pillar towers that are the primary objective. This game mode is very similar to Call of Duty’s Domination. With each pillar controlled your opponent begins to lose more and more points. Eventually when a team reaches 0 points it results in the nexus being destroyed. Dominion is different from the other maps as how there are speed pads that make you run faster and health packs for you to heal from rather than for you to go back to base and potentially lose control over the pillar tower. Even though it seems as an interesting game mode it was not played as much and then was later retired as a result.
Howling Abyss is the most recent map that has been added to the game. Howling Abyss is the map where you play the game mode ARAM or All Random All Mid which is that everyone gets a random champion and tries to win with their randomly selected champion. This game mode has been known to be less competitive because of the fact that you don’t get to choose your champion. Supposedly this game mode is more for fun and messing around. A very cool thing about Howling Abyss is that it’s just all on an icy bridge.
Finally the last map is Summoner’s Rift, which is the most popular map that is played on. Summoner’s Rift is one of the most played maps because it is a relatively large map and has several factors like different types of dragons, a Baron Nashor, and 3 lanes (Top, Mid, and Bot). Being so big it requires more teamwork since if you are left alone in a certain area without your team then it is easier for the other team to come and kill you resulting in your team being down a player for a couple of seconds. As being one of the original maps there are some special events that changes the aesthetics of the map such as in winter the map changes to a more winter type of environment such as with snow and etc. The map design has been finished for a while, but the changing aesthetics gives a different look for the map.
Professional League of Legends
In League of Legends there are seasons, just like how basketball and basically every sport has seasons. So far League of Legends is currently in it’s 7th season, every year there is the World Championships, where the top 3 teams of every main region plus 2 wild card teams battle it out and see who is the best team in the world. Every year the World Championship changes location. Back in season 3(4 years ago) the World Championships were held in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Lakers and Clippers play. You wouldn’t expect for an Esport game to sell out completely a legendary sports arena like the Staples Center. This shows how much progress professional League of Legends has made beginning from playing the Riot Offices to now huge sports arenas around the world. Majority of the professional League of Legends players choose to play competitively than to go to college because it is something they are passionate about and won’t have the opportunity to do so later. There are players that make about 6 figure salaries with all expenses paid for just for being a part of the team and competing. This is an extraordinary number because the average salary right out of college is significantly less than 6 figures.
How is League art?
League of Legends is art because since League of Legends was starting the designers had to continually make progress to have a finished project. Even now that the game is finished with the design there are still changes being made to the game every couple of weeks such as having different patches. In every patch there are several things that are changing such as buffing/nerfing champions, adding new champions, adding a new game mode, adjusting item costs and stats. Howard Becker once stated that
“The list of things that must be done varies, naturally, from one medium to another, but we can provisionally list the kinds of activities that must be performed. To begin, someone must have an idea of what kind of work is to be made and of its specific form. The originators may get that idea long before actually making the work, or the idea may arise in the process of working. The idea may be brilliant and original, profound and moving, or trivial and banal, for all practical purposes indistinguishable from thousands of other ideas produced by others equally untalented or uninterested in what they are doing.”(Howard Becker 1982, p. 2)
As this shows that the designers must go through some process to get the final project as to what League of Legend does with it’s patches every couple weeks or so improving the game making it better. Another quote of Becker says that
“All artistic artwork, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people. Through their cooperation, the artwork we eventually see or hear comes to be and continues to be” (Howard Becker, p. 1)
As this also supports how League of Legends and other game must go through process to get to the final object. Another way of interpreting this could be that you must work together in the game if you want to win if not it will be extremely hard. Working together is the easiest way you will win.
Another way that League of Legends is art because its fundamental amount of aesthetics throughout the game such as having different skins for different champions that have different animations. These aesthetics trap the player into wanting to play that champion even more or to get a specific skin for their favorite champion. As stated by Clark and Mitchell:
Video game art is a constantly evolving and mutating field. This is inevitable as it is not built on one dominant application, programming language, medium, or aesthetic, nor does it consist of a single, homogeneous, community. But this also means that the work is very diverse and cannot, therefore, be easily or rigidly defined in terms of its themes, technology or techniques. Even so, the work shares a number of common characteristics, and although not every work will have or display all of them, we can use these to help to recognize video game art and acknowledge it as a coherent genre of work (and a valid critical term to describe this type of work).” (Clark and Mitchell)
This is can tie in with the aesthetic trappings of League of Legends because no skin is the same but they do have similarities such as the warden set of skins, the championship skins and etc.
“Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press: pp. 1-39.
Andy Clarke and Grethe Mitchell. (2007). “Introduction.” In Videogames and Art. Bristol; Chicago: Intellect. pp. 7-22