Why do we play DotA 2?

Welcome back

Last time I described different psychological features of roles in DotA.

This time I want to discuss one interesting question: Why do we play dota (and other popular games like CS, HoN, LoL) again and again? What makes us coming back to this game? I think all players have heard from their friends such phrases

  • Why do you play this game al the time if there is only one map?
  • How can you play this game over and over, there is nothing new? 
  • You’ve played all heroes (used all weapons) – what’s the meaning of playing more?

Actually why do we return to these games? What do we get while we are playing? Let’s analyze it

Introduction or “Did you know it all along?”

Here I wish to share one psychological phenomenon – hindsight bias. For example, if you tell your friends “It was proved that whether choosing friends or falling in love, we are most attracted to people whose traits are different from our own.” and tell for example your classmates or co-workers that  “it was proved that whether choosing friends or falling in love, we are most attracted to people whose traits are similar to our own”. 100 that you’ll hear something like that “Ou, yeah, I knew it” or “Pff, that’s nothing. Of course I know that”

 In short hindsight bias describes the next mental rule: things seem more obvious after they have already happened. I want to say that after reading this post I’m sure you will have such a feeling “Ok, there is nothing new” and that’s true. I’m not going to blow your mind. I just summarize experience and maybe look a little bit deeper inside about why we play DotA.

Game for game

DotA/CS/LoL/HoN – the most popular games over the world and also they are known as cybersport. But anyway it’s still a game. What do games give to us? First of all, It’s fun. А priori games imply fun and enjoyment. Also game often has hazard: one of the strongest feeling which human have. These two the most important features of the games (doesn’t matter what type of game it is: computer game, board game, card game) bring us to the games. Also here is the reason why Valve gives us new updates from time to time: to keep warm our interest. Last update “Winter 2016 battle pass” provides us some new quests and that makes us setting new goals like “Ok, I wanna get Lina’s set so I gonna “The pass of wanderer”.

Game for win

The first which you can have – why did I separate “Game” and “win”? These things seem very close to each other. Actually, that’s true, but if we learn this idea more, we’ll see that there is a big difference. One of the classifications of personality give us next typology: there are two type of persons: process-oriented and result-oriented. The same situation we can observe in DotA: some players play just to play: these players enjoy the process of the game, they try to make some nice moves (like it was very popular if you could cliff with Rubick or you know how to dodge). Some players focus only on the victory (especially you can find it in ranked games, I think it’s logically). Usually these players try hard and if they don’t win, they are demoralized. While process-oriented players lose the game, they don’t care much. But if they play bad, they are disappointed, ’cause they didn’t get what they need.

The desire of communication

Everybody has heard that DotA is a team game. So everyone plays in a team, it means that we play with other players. So we are forced to communicate. There are a lot of kind of communication in game:

  • Text / Voice
  • Positive / Negative
  • Active (when you give information) / Passive (when you receive information from your teammates)

Playing such games you can meet a lot of nice players over the world: you’d like to play more games with them and so the game is getting not the game, it’s kind of connection between people. You try to come home a little bit earlier just to play 1 more game with your buddies.

The projection of rage

(Here I want to thank my dota-friend, who told me about that)

I’m sure that you’ve met some players who just offend, blame and trash-talk. These players can use the games to take out their negative emotions. So DotA provides a very useful method of relaxinghqdefault

  1. Go to the pub game
  2. Pick Riki
  3. A) If you lose – blame your team B) If you win – blame your team

Players feel in safety: they know well, that other teammates can’t do anything (might be only give reports). They are not able to do in real life, ’cause they would get counteraction. And I know that many dota-players are quite tired about that especially the games when you have nice 3 teammates and 1 player starts feeding, ’cause he didn’t get a tango from support. GG WP. Anyway, that’s already another topic. Here I want to say that dota helps some players to take out their rage.


In psychology, especially in time-management, there is a special idea about time-killer: it’s an activity which doesn’t bring you any benefit. TOP-5 time-killers

  • Internet surfing
  • Watching TV
  • Travel time (to work)
  • Social networking
  • Procrastination

DotA (and other games) can act time-killers also. Imagine the situation: you have about 1 hour until school/work. You don’t know what to do and you think “Mmm, OK, I can play one fast game maybe”. That’s the worst thing about dota, because you just kill your time in such circumstances. You decide to play it only because you have time and you don’t know anything else.


That was about the most typical reasons why we play such games. Also I want to explain in more details two reasons: Game for win and The desire of communication

Game for win and Self-concept

Let’s check two key factors:

  1. These players’ goal is victory (ego)
  2. There are 9 other players during 1 game (group)

You don’t play alone: you play with other people: it doesn’t matter it’s your friends or random players. You show your skill to another 9 persons during 1 game and they measure your skill. Evaluation from other people build up self-esteem – is the way how we value ourselves: it is how we perceive our value to the world and how valuable we think we are to others. As I saw, people whose goal is victory tend to have high self-esteem and in real life they achieve their goals more easily. Important to note: if these players lose the game, they feel burned-out because they couldn’t achieve their main goal – win the game. So these games can be used as an effective ego-boost method.

The desire of communication and sense of community

“Man is by nature a social animal”


A man needs the society and we can’t live alone. DotA has an enormous community. Being a member of this community suffers one of the significant needs. What is it like to be a member of game’s community?

  1. A sense of belonging and identification;
  2. Boundaries: you have connection with other players of the community

    Over 1 million people was watching TI 5
    Over 1 million people was watching TI 5
  3. Shared emotional connection (players from other game communities hardly would understand your feelings about game experience. But also you have your own game history with teammates)
  4. Personal investment: you have the role in game
  5. A common symbol system: in DotA 2 there is a special game-language (once my dad tried to watch Dota Major Championships – 5 minutes later he told me that he hadn’t understood any words).

The games satisfy our need to belong to groups.

That’s the end. Feel free to comment it, I’ll be glad to know what you are thinking.

Next time I am going to make research about how personal drivers (special life program which we get from our parents) connect to roles in dota 2. If you want to help me making research, please, send me e-mail Barybinaleks@gmail.com, you will get 1 test about drivers and of course I will send you back your results. I need about 60 test-persons so feel free to invite your friends 🙂



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