Last night I played a bunch of ranked Heroes of the Storm with Pam and one or two other friends. They were all seeding games (i.e. counting towards determining our assigned starting rank) and we only won I think 2 out of 8. It was a little frustrating overall, though in most of the games I had fun.
I don’t know how good I am as a player – certainly nowhere near very good or great – but I like to think that I usually don’t drag a team down. After the results of last night, though, I have to wonder. I had a few games where I did some really stupid shit, and that undoubtedly contributed to our loss, but was that the end of it? Most importantly, is my casual approach to the game hurting my friends and holding them back?
I play Heroes of the Storm like I played (unrated) Battlegrounds and Arenas in WoW. It’s a personal challenge, to see how far I can get and have some fun along the way, without becoming consumed by it. I play ranked because it is the only meaningful measure of progress – quick matches just give me stats, and don’t tell me what my skill cap is or whether I’ve reached it.
In order to maintain the fun factor, I turned off team chat in games. I don’t need that shit, even if it is not directed at me. If I didn’t have that option, I simply would not play the game at all. It is part of my personal challenge to see how high I can go without chat, as I am aware how valuable it is in a team game. In that respect, I know that I am handicapping the team somewhat, although my aim is to be aware enough to compensate. I also, after the second instance of being hunted down in /whispers and told to kill myself, found this lovely button in the options that auto-blocks messages from anyone not on my friends list.
When it comes time to pick heroes, I try to draft in order to plug gaps – playing a support or warrior if there isn’t one already. But I also choose based on what dailies I have, which means I might not take the “best” hero in that role. In addition, I am a reflexive contrarian. I loathe being told how to play my game, and the culture of “optimal builds” “best class” and what have you that has dominated so many multiplayer games in the past decade. I automatically shy away from the “OP” heroes, the ones that top the metagame. So, my support of choice in HotS is Tyrande, even though she is not one of the Top Three. I have been doing my best to master Nova, despite many games where people try to shame me for choosing her. I like E.T.C.’s playstyle, even though Muradin and Johanna and Arthas and Anub’arak are considered better tanks. I love Gazlowe, despite the top players assigning him to the lowest Tier (i.e. the least desirable) of heroes.
I get that this is a team competition. I get that I am not the only one affected by my choices. But I am not a troll. I am not actively trying to sabotage my team. I just want to play and have fun. I don’t really mind if my skill cap ends up being rank 30 or so, which is what I reached before the rankings reset. One of the hate messages I got before I found the blacklist button, insisted that I was not good enough to play ranked. This is ludicrous, even at first glance. Of course I am good enough to play ranked. I made it to 30, after all, so I am not that bad. What they likely meant was that I am not good enough to reach rank 1. That’s probably true. But is that a reason to leave ranked altogether? To go back to quickmatch? Fuck that.
I can say things like “fuck that” when considering my impact on others in a solo queue. But when I am grouping up with friends? How much do I owe them to stick to the meta? To prioritise winning over having fun, or protecting myself from hate chat? These are the thoughts that make me feel guilty, when I have a losing streak like last night with Pam & Co., and I know that my blasé attitude to the game could have contributed – or been the direct cause – of them losing.
NSFW – language