Dota 2 Singapore review: Reasons why multiplayer online games can affect relationships, social lives, and more

Dota 2 Singapore review: Reasons why multiplayer online games can affect relationships, social lives, and more

Tale as old as time

Text: Emily Heng

It goes without saying that breakups are rife with clichés. "It's not you, it's me" is a common refrain. Failing that, they cite irreconcilable personality differences or even extenuating circumstances, such as distance or disapproving parents. As a perpetual commitment-phobe, it's safe to say I've heard it all — and then some. My favourite, strangely enough, is both typical and absurd in equal measure. That is, the dissolution of a relationship when one party spends way too much time playing Dota 2.

Dota 2 Singapore review: Reasons why multiplayer online games can affect relationships, social lives, and more (фото 1)

Laughable as it might sound, it is all too common an occurrence within the Southeast Asian region. So much so that there are even songs written about it. One — aptly titled Dota o Ako (Dota or me?) — is a Tagalog anthem produced in 2013. It has since incurred 3 million views. The lyrics, while simplistic, astutely conveys the hilarity and heartbreak of this phenomenon: "A girlfriend will get mad at you if you play Dota," a jersey-clad youth declares with a kind of gravitas that suggests he's learned the hard way. "But Dota doesn't get mad if you get a girlfriend."

Lauded as one of the "greatest video games of all time", Dota 2 boasts over a million concurrent players at its peak. It comes as no surprise, then, that its hype has yet to die down since its inception in 2009. In fact, it even comprises a large part of the e-Sports scene, where its crowdfunded prize money system makes it one of the most lucrative multiplayer arena games out there. Yes, that means you can earn something out of this other than the smug, deep-seated satisfaction of beating out A.I.'s and friends.

That alone might convince others as to the appeal of this game. I, however, am not entirely persuaded. I might retain only surface-level knowledge with regard to gaming, but I had no doubt that there something deeper surrounding this occurrence.

And so, I decided to plunge into the deep end by playing it myself. What is it about this game that makes it so damn addictive? Why are people foregoing actual human connection in favour of (literal) trolls, magi, and dragons? And for the love of God, can love actually triumph? Here's every single theory I've derived from my arduous, month-long journey, below.

Your S.O. is not texting back because... they're being a good friend

No (wo)man is an island. Particularly not when it comes to games of a multiplayer nature, really, where collaboration serves as the driving force behind the entire venture. For those unaware, Dota 2 is played in matches between two teams of five players. The main aim is to capture the other's team base in the shortest time possible. So, essentially, whenever bae stops to text back re: your commentary on T.Swift's Folklore, they're not fully pulling their weight in this team effort. So, you see, it's not that they're not into you, but rather, that they are choosing to be a good friend by giving their 100% to this project.

There's also a point to be made about how it's a low-effort yet high-reward way to deepen friendship bonds. Nothing expresses affection quite like taking a hit meant for your teammate, or executing a battle maneuver in perfect sync. In my case, I was especially grateful for the patience of my long-suffering friend (and guide) as he scrupulously educated me on the ins-and-outs of the game. Think of it as hanging out, but without having to deal with the whole actual going out part — which is particularly convenient in times of COVID-19.


Your S.O. is not texting back because... they are inherently competitive and love a good challenge

There are a lot of points of contention when it comes to Dota 2. Its steep learning curve, however, is not one of them. Even the most experienced players claim that there is always something to learn and improve on, the result of constant game updates and the introduction of new features. It's the proverbial carrot on a stick; something you'll seemingly never excel at, which only spurs you to keep trying in the hopes that someday, you will. The smallest of mistakes can also induce a ripple effect, resulting in momentous consequences. This only further ups the stakes that can lead to more gameplay than ever, predominantly amongst those who hate to lose.


Your S.O. is not texting back because... they're distracted by the sheer amount of variety Dota 2 brings

It's likely, too, that they're the type with limited attention spans. There are 115 unique characters to play within the game alone, not counting the lore, design, and abilities of each. Not forgetting, of course, that there's also items, terrain, and strategies to look at. The expansive universe proves difficult to navigate, especially if you're the type who gets overstimulated by two Netflix tabs playing in the same browser.


Your S.O. is not texting back because... the game requires two hands, okay?

One poised at the keyboard, and the other positioned on the mouse. Short of spontaneously spawning a third limb, it's just not physically possible for someone to fire off text after text while engaging in Dota 2. Call me a recent convert, or perhaps just a tad too forgiving — but cut 'em some slack, maybe?