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Christopher Lynch
11-03-2014
Final Draft
Defense of the Ancients
What is Dota? An online game and time waster that promotes anti-social behavior? To an
outsider, generally that is the depth of what they see in it. People tend to love to judge gamers
without taking a decent look into the communities. This isn’t just a unique factor of gaming
though, lack of understanding about a subject leads to thinking like this, and oftentimes a deeper
understanding simply isn’t desired. To a member of the community however, it is so much more
than that. To formally introduce it, Dota 2 is an online game that fits under the genre of “Real
Time Strategy Game”. The Name “Dota” comes from an acronym for Defense of the Ancients,
which refers to the main objective or end game of destroying the opposing teams’ ancient located
in the most protected part of a team’s base. It’s impossible to explain in such a short amount of
words, the basics can be explained simply. Each game generally lasts forty to sixty minutes,
pitching two teams of five players to battle against each other. Each team has their own
stronghold, or base, in either corner of the map to defend against; failing that results in defeat.
The player chooses from over 100 unique characters, called heroes, with their different skills and
abilities, then attempts to use that hero in conjunction with their teammate’s heroes to gain
advantages over the other team through small skirmishes and efficient resource management to

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fulfill the objective of destroying the opposing team’s ancient, thus finishing the game. There are
thousands of mechanics in play, including gold and experience gain, sieging enemy towers, item
purchasing, neutral units, and a level of complexity so advance that a single person can never
truly master the game. There is always a way to improve your personal skill level, maximize
efficiency, or improve your team play. Without a doubt, Dota has given a rise to number of
different and varied discourse communities due to the nature of the game; and at its very heart,
has created such a rich culture in which every member becomes deeply engrained in as they
begin to discover the layers of complexity hidden behind the publically viewed face of an online
game.

The Community

There exists many levels on membership in the widespread communities of Dota. All of
the different people share their part in contributing to the game and experience as a whole, and
each of them have unique parts and characteristics that define and separate them from the others.
Deep down at the most casual level exists the players who are only in it to play the game and
have fun with friends with minimal focus on improvement. These players are perhaps the most
widespread and make up the heart of the community. Their role is important due to the fact that
they contribute the most to spreading the game and encouraging a new player base, while
providing a bulk of the players and keeping the system in business. The more serious players are

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more interested in improving their own skill level as well as participating in the upper skill
bracket games and small scale (low prize pool and publicity) tournaments, either in hopes of
breaking into the professional scene or purely for enjoyment. Moving on, there is an actual focus
on the professional scene and the sponsorships that come with it. Certain players have been able
to distinguish themselves, mostly due to individual skill and are able to form a team and compete
in high level tournaments. Higher levels of play coming from these professional players results
in bigger prize pool tournaments, resulting in more media coverage, brand sponsorship, and
many other factors which draw attention to the scene while increasing the popularity and player
base. Other members of the professional scene include “casters” who have a large amount of
game knowledge and who, much like sports casters, narrate the live games to explain some of the
complexities, talk out the strategies being used, and make the games an overall more enjoyment
experience. There are even members of the community who aren’t directly related to the game at
all. These include the previously stated brand sponsors who often host the large scale
tournaments, or otherwise sponsor players or teams to make sure they can keep competing.
Perhaps the group of most importance are the creators of the game, “Valve”. They initiated the
project to turn the original Dota (the original game which was a modification to an existing game
Warcraft III) into an incredibly popular standalone game, Dota 2. They listen to feedback from
members of any level and work tirelessly to improve the game, balance various mechanics, fix
bugs, and host the yearly “International” tournaments among countless other things. They strive

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towards keeping the game up to date and enjoyable for all members. A player can move through
the ranks, into the different subgroups, generally by increasing his skill or game knowledge.
With the right mindset, motivation, or free time; a person can individually move into higher level
play, professional level, or even community relations. Many careers have spawned out of this
game, but it is up to the individual to see what they can make out of it.

Goals we all Share

Among the members of the community exist a general layer of goals that keeps them
communicating and working together. The first and most important, as cheesy or nerdy as this
sounds, is the love for the game. The sheer enjoyment partially comes from the complexity and
depth present in a single game. Every new match of Dota is completely different despite sharing
the same exact map and terrain every single time. Hundreds of millions of possibilities exist just
concerning the hero choice of your team, not even factoring in item choice, personal play and
game choices, and the strategies of your opponents. For instance, a major part of the game
revolves around your teams “draft”, or the heroes chosen for a specific game. For instance, one
hero may perform very poorly in the beginning stages of the game, yet as time goes on gradually
becomes a nearly unstoppable force the late game. Called a “Carry” hero, supports that are more
effective earlier are picked to provide a safe environment for these carries to make sure that the
carry can even get to the point of being an actual threat. Around that, there are strategies and

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hero picks that synergize with each other and promote different play styles. Finding the best
picks and how to use those strategies most effective promotes communication and idea sharing to
continue with the ever present goal of improving play. The competitive and professional level
that exists also play a large part into providing extreme sources of competition that leads to the
ever increasing potential for the game. A goal that almost all members of the community share
and seek to improve upon.

Virtual Communication

No community can be functional without working together, and communicating between
the different levels and communities formed within Dota 2 is no exception. At its most basic
level, players are encouraged to communicate with each other in game either through typing or
the built in voice system. Teamwork is essential towards winning, and communicating with your
four other teammates generally makes games more enjoyable and profitable. One of the things
that makes online gaming so incredible is this exact function. I could be playing from my dorm
room at UCF, while my other teammate could be in any other continent and they might not even
speak English. In fact, this is surprisingly a common problem even playing on the US East server
and it often leads to much frustration and learning interesting phrases in other languages. Outside
of the game, a multitude of forums and other online sites exist where we can share experiences,
learn new techniques, find out about upcoming events, and even air complaints we have about

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the game. Such websites include the Dota 2 section in Reddit, PlayDota forums, various
YouTube Channels, and official forums located inside Dota2.com. These are important because
they keep the community as a whole connected and involved. Because of these places, those who
wish can easily find ways to improve their play and bring them into a higher level. Guides and
How-To’s are made to help out players of any skill level; made by those who have spent the time
and have had enough experience to be able to assume a teaching position. Perhaps the most wellknown member spends his time creating YouTube guides and streaming gameplay to advise
newer players and ease their transition into the game. Due to the way ads work on YouTube and
other sites, he is able to make and maintain a living from doing this.

The Language of Dota
It can’t be stressed enough. Dota 2 is an incredibly difficult and complex game that is
severely daunting to new players. This is heightened by the fact that we, as a community, have
created our own jargon and language to work with. We have redefined simple words and have
created others. Words or abbreviations such as “Miss” “Rax” “bkb” “gank” and “GG team noob”
are instantly recognizable by a Dota player and often appear multiple times throughout matches.
The purpose of these are to mostly ease communication or maximize the efficiency of insults
between players both in game and out. In game, time is a valuable commodity. It is terribly
inefficient to type out a lengthy exposé in the middle of a fight or especially when you can get

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ambushed at any second, thus the creation of our own abbreviations and our own Lexis that are
often completely foreign to an outsider or beginner.

End Results

In the end, Dota is still just a game. A game generally misunderstood by society, but still
a game. Through that, however, it has created a vast community that works together and has
created so much out of so little. Careers have been made, fame has been found, enjoyment and
the thrill of the game keeps people enthralled. It brings the societies and cultures together to
make the world a smaller place. Different states, countries, and even continents; literally any
person with access to the internet and a love for the game can be brought together under one roof
of unity, for a single purpose: to defend their ancients.

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