Arcane still could not convince me to give League of Legends another try

It was a fun watch, though

I’ve only ever played League of legends once in my life. Story time: I was working on a small event where they were holding a tournament, but they did not have enough people to play, so I was turned in, even though I had never touched the game in my life (I had played a bit of at this point Heroes of the storm after my friends insisted a few months before and decided that MOBAs were not really my thing). I crawled up on stage and literally set mine up League account right there and then we were off.

I really had no idea what I was doing and just started clicking randomly. Somehow we won because the other team neglected to kill any of our henchmen, so their base was overrun. Afterwards, my friend who hosted the event informed me that the game was actually streamed to the front page of Twitch, where the commentators decided to burn out my obvious lack of knowledge so everyone could see.

[Image Source: Gamespedition]

It was something of a traumatic introduction to the beloved MOBA, but honestly I probably would not want to play League regardless. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that story-focused games are my absolute favorite, and while the world of League of legends is full of some pretty cool lore, it’s just not enough to grab my attention.

Come in Exciting, and here I thought it would completely change my mind about wanting to play the game. Part of me feared it because I knew I did not have free time to learn and then play a lot League. It turned out I had nothing to worry about.

Do not get me wrong, I had fun watching Exciting. The visuals, music and world structure were all amazing and I hope future shows and movies can take note of all the unique things the show does to push visual storytelling forward. Its polishing and production quality is unsurpassed and it deserves all the praise it receives in that regard. I think it’s a really smart idea to use the characters from your games that players already know and love, and let’s take them on a journey with them, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Riot continues to prove that game properties can flourish like other types of media.

The core of Exciting, but should be its characters. Most of the marketing I have seen has been focused on the relationship between sisters Jinx and Violet, who in theory is the emotional center of Exciting. After watching, I was disappointed with the lack of more full character development from pretty much the entire cast of characters – the motivations were often confused, and I wondered why someone behaved a certain way instead of understanding it as the next natural steps in their arc.

Plot-wise, so many different topics were introduced, as the contrast between those who are privileged and the people they exploit, the dehumanization of drug addicts who are victims of a system stacked against them, the ethical dangers of letting scientists progress drop out. of the hand, or hell, even what it means to be a family, an idea that had more screen time than anyone else. The show does a good job of setting everything up (I had high hopes after the first three episodes), but it lost me with its inability to say anything crucial about its themes.

I can not pretend to know exactly why Exciting was made in the first place. I would think it was because Riot was so passionate about the story they wanted to tell, but the worn part of me who lives in the real world knows that it is at least in part because they wanted to promote their game.

The main reason holding me back from giving Riots games a chance is their lack of focus on narrative-driven entrances to their catalog. It’s not like there’s a problem with that – it’s entirely their privilege to make whatever the hell kind of game they want. I know for a fact that the things they do are amazing if you are a fan of the given genre. But for me, Exciting does not seem like motivation to go and try League, because the experience of watching it is so far different from playing the game.

With Excitings release and subsequent success, I can not help but think of the other intellectual property that has become a pop culture monolith with its game-to-TV adaptation, which also happens to be on Netflix: The Witcher. The games were already insanely popular, but the show is really what pushed it beyond the edge of becoming a household name for more mainstream audiences.

The Witcher is a slightly different matter than Exciting, because the IP actually started as novels first, then went to games and then television. The focus on storytelling was always there from the beginning, and each incarnation provided a new interpretation of its world and characters. I actually think the way the series has made adaptations is really smart – with each medium telegraphing its narrative in its own unique way, I like that they allowed the different versions to do what was best suitable for how the story was told.

After starting as a game, and a non-narrative game, Exciting had another set of challenges. They had to build the story from scratch, and although there is an infinite amount of potential there, it also lacks the inherent structure that The Witcher had the luxury of working out as a starting point. That structure is exactly what I think Exciting would have benefited most from.

The fight scenes in the show were bombastic and dynamic and absolutely evocative of the source material, but all I could think about was, “man, this would have felt even cooler if any of these emotional beats landed.” It was a bit jarring to have a character who merrily mowed down enemies with a giant hammer / gun combination one second, only for them to be horrified by their actions the next. You can not have it both ways.

While The Witchers shows, novels and games feel like close siblings, Arcane and League feel like distantly related cousins ​​who see each other once every few years for a wedding or a funeral. I guess it was stupid of me to believe that unmanageable ‘s story could change my mind. No matter how interested in the characters I may be or not after seeing, the game will always be part of a genre that I just can not quite get into.

Story Beat is a weekly column that discusses everything that has to do with storytelling in video games.

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