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Finding Love in Ranked Again
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I guess I wanted to preface the highlight video below with some thoughts on why I believe I enjoyed myself so much more with different groups of people.

If you're familiar with myself or my content, you've probably seen me yo-yo between ranked and quickmatch play often. I wanted to be competitive, to get better at the game. But there are many factors that can contribute to falling off the wagon; fatigue, toxicity, keeping up with the meta, draft nerves. All of those things played a part every time I gave up ranked for quickmatch again.

Yesterday I had the pleasure to join Jazzalene again in her weekly Girl Gank Squad show. It reminded me of how crucially important not just what you're playing is, but who you play with.
Generally I played lots of games with viewers on my stream. I aimed to teach those who are new to the game the basics, and tips to improve. It's up to them how far they want to take that knowledge. I like to give people a safe space to give this awesome game a go. A lot of feedback on MOBAs is "I'm too intimated to learn because I don't want to let my team down."

Sadly, the flip side to this is having such a wide variety of players from newbies, to masterful players, to players like myself who have been in the game a long time but aren't necessarily the most skilled. The abrasion that occurs among the team in these instances can be so disappointing, especially when dragged out across a 6 hour long stream. Experienced players can assume that everyone knows everything about the game or become impatient. Newer players might do their best to keep up but ultimately feel deflated every time an aggressive player jumps in too far and exclaims "Where was the [tank/healer/team]?!?" and everyone's feelings get hurt.

Most of my streamer friends hate viewer games. The stress that comes with having to manage the ever-changing personalities on the team every time someone rotates out, the dynamic shifts and synergy wanes, is too much on top of the engagement, production and quality assurance we're already running on a one-man live show. They will not ever do them for this reason. It's frustrating for everyone; the broadcaster, the viewers that feel uncomfortable witnessing conflict, the players have varying expectations. Let's just say that, thanks to Jazzy's play dates, I'm finally seeing the light.

I don't enjoy solo queue. I turn off chat. I turn off voice chat (yes, I've admitted many times, I was wrong). Viewer games stress me out because I can't turn these features off for fear of tensions rising among our team mates, and not being able to resolve those issues because I wasn't present to hear what happened. But let's be real - with all the other things I'm doing in that moment, I'll miss a lot on comms anyway. So what's the point?

The point is: play the game how you know you enjoy it most. I know my time in the game is best spent with these women, even competitively - which is a huge win for me. We synergise. We have upmost respect for each other. We know our roles. We learn from each other. We can play together, fail together and laugh together. Ultimately we end up with a net positive outcome, better content and twice as much of it. We even get to engage with our audiences better. I definitely felt that yesterday with all the new faces that wandered into the stream, saw all the fun we were having and asked about what Heroes of the Storm is and how they can start learning. I definitely love this outcome better, so this is my vow to stick to it.

(YES, KIYE, YOU WERE RIGHT, GAWD.)
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I'm glad there was good advice for you offered, and that you've found pleasure in mixing up how you play and with whom you play:D. I'm 7mths in, but really enjoying getting to know players and forming groups to play different ways with.  I look forward to Storm league, when it feels right and I think I'm ready, and have complimentary team in place.  I really like how you put this together; well said.