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3,600 hours and counting

“I have over 3,600 hours in Dota 2.”

Oftentimes, telling people that I have spent at least 116 days furiously right clicking the mouse on a computer baffles them. My love-hate relationship with the game was rather apparent due to my persistent rambling about it. Those I ramble to might even ask, “Why would anyone in their right mind spend so much time on a mindless video game?”

I was honestly not sure at first.

To those unaware, Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena in which 10 players pick from a list of over a hundred heroes. Each hero is unique, having their own strengths, weaknesses, and learning curves. Due to the nature of the game, the difficulty is amplified when one takes into consideration the need to mix and match heroes in a team to find the optimal lineup. The game needs teamwork, leadership, spontaneity, strategy, and camaraderie to accomplish the main goal: destroying the opposing team’s “ancient”.

I started playing it in 2013, a few years after Valve, the company that develops the game, released beta keys to the public. Thirteen-year-old me just wanted another video game to play. I gathered a bunch of friends to play the game, and some of us never stopped.

The game is notorious for being stressful—something I can’t deny.

The community can be toxic at times, pointing out each and every mistake you make and some players even make unnecessary comments toward your race, your class, or even your worth. I usually end up muting the enemy team so I can listen to my team.

When playing in a team, there are times when people fight because things aren’t going well. When playing with friends, there were times we wouldn’t talk to each other because of how terribly we played. At its worst, we would stop playing Dota 2 for a couple of weeks because of how bitter we were after losing over 10 games in a row.

Dota 2 is incredibly difficult, requiring one to practice for over hundreds of hours just to get the hang of the game. Due to the game being a global phenomenon, it becomes exponentially more difficult when you’re placed with a bunch of strangers where no one in your team speaks English or Filipino. It’s a mentally exhausting game to play.

Despite its drawbacks, it’s still a game I find myself coming back to. In a rather tiring, repetitive life, Dota 2 was my escape.

The thousands of possible hero combinations and strategies intrigued me, fueling my love and interest for the game. Despite its difficulties, the game taught me how to be persistent—that never-ending desire to become better at the game. The difficulty wasn’t a problem for me; I looked at it as a challenge for me to work hard and get better. It is always worth rethinking your strategy: to take a step back and look at the situation clearly before tackling it from a different angle. You don’t have to be talented in the game to be good—you just have to be persistent and passionate.

By forging friendships in Dota 2, I was able to further understand the importance of camaraderie. From online acquaintances, these people then became a staple in my everyday life. There was a certain joy logging into your computer and entering a channel to hear people laugh and joke together, even though sometimes these people haven’t met each other in real life.

Answering the question of why I continue playing was something I couldn’t answer before, but it’s now something I keep close to my heart. Why do I keep playing? I play because of the complexity, the friendships, and the lessons Dota 2 has given me.

Let’s be real though: when you’re doing something you love, 3,600 hours and counting isn’t really enough.

By Rafael Gabriel Arceo

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