The Dota2 Effect

Not too long ago, I downloaded Dota2 (because it is free, and I keep hearing about it) and started playing it with my friends who all seem to be Dota2 enthusiasts. The initial effect of Dota2 was this: Damn I suck. I want to give up.

I had a K:D ratio of 0:20.

Why? I have no idea what was going on in the whole game (I skipped over the entire tutorial) and just went straight into practice. Because, you know, practice makes perfect, they said.

No one told me that practice makes perfect ONLY IF you know what exactly is going on first.

That’s why today I want to talk about the Dota2 effect. Truthfully speaking, there are two Dota2 effects that can be derived from my short experience with Dota.

  1. The Dota Cycle of Suckiness (TDCS)

Basically, the pros gets pro-er and the lame gets lamer in the game. It goes something like that:

  • You are new to Dota.
  • Your last hits basically stink like crazy.
  • You get no coins to purchase necessary items with, so that around mid-game to late game you are still stuck with a couple of tangoes and iron branches.
  • You repeatedly get pwned by other better heros who level up faster and earn coins by pwning your head.
  • You don’t level up as fast (basically stuck at around level 10) because you spent half the time respawning.
  • If you are playing an open game, you have successfully marked yourself out as an easy feeder target because, hello easy coins?
  • You die more often when more heroes pwn your head MORE frequently.
  • The heroes that pwn your head now can purchase Aghanim Scepter and Satanic, whilst all you probably have at best is Power Treads.


I am extrapolating this Cycle onto my real life scenarios. Think about it, it is too painfully similar.

  • You take a module you suck at and you know you suck at it.
  • Nothing makes sense to you and everything you try to say in class sounds retarded.
  • To avoid looking like an ENTHUSIASTIC retard, you no longer speak up in class. So byebye class participation.
  • Smart people says smart things in class and score their class-part points.
  • You are even more aware of how little you know and how bad you are at this, and despite trying, you are still getting nowhere.
  • Some sort of resignation sets in: like how you always get pwned in Dota, you are just there in the module to let others score their As.
  • You kinda want to give up doing all the stuff because of learned helplessness.
  • You suck at your finals.
  • People who are good get As, and all you get out of the module is a wasted S/U.

See the parallel? It is not that strong, but if you think about it, it makes sense.

This is exactly what is happening to my European History module. I took it with the awareness that I totally suck at history. Knowing that did not help because I hate doing things I suck at, and I was initially empowered by a sense of fiery motivation to de-suckify myself so that hey, I can turn my weakness into a strength! But after trying for a while, I feel mildly resigned because I still don’t get the point of studying Napoleon or the French Revolution. Nor can I exactly remember what is going on. At the current moment, I am trying to motivate myself to work hard for it again.

2.  Dota-INDUCED Cycle of Suckiness (DICS)

Another type of suckiness is called the Dota-induced Cycle. What it basically means is simple: delayed gratification from studying hard and achieving good results (assuming you do) is way too difficult, so what we do is to go to Dota (or a game of your choice) to achieve instant gratification. So each time I am stuck in my becursed European history essay, I go and play a few games of Overthrow to make myself feel like I am achieving something rather than really achieving something. (Although I must again suggest that the bench mark of “real achievements” are vaguely arbitrary.)

Basically the quasi-achievement and ephemeral satisfaction you get from Dota is like a drug –  you keep going back for another round after the high dies down. Oh lordy, now I am a drug addict. Great.


Yeah we lost. But I improved!


Anyways, I am trying to break out of this vicious cycles knowing how detrimental it can be to my schoolwork and my personal mental health. Not to say that I can quit Dota-ing completely, but I need to balance.

This morning has been fairly good, I felt stressed by my essay, I have not succumbed to playing Dota (will play it later after I have finished more work) and I spoke to JX about the stress I am facing. Although he is really sleepy and all from his hike, he still tried to comfort me, which I think is really nice of him and a cause of a huge improvement in my mood to have people like that in my life! It is always nice to receive emotional support from all my friends, even if it is just words. Words can heal!

Done with writing this post. Getting back to work now.


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